The birth of cyberpunk: Liveblogging Neuromancer

Eegah
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Chapter 1

So, my brother got me Neuromancer for my birthday, widely heralded as the first big cyberpunk book, before that term even existed. And I figured it's been a while since I did one of these, so something so historic yet fun-looking would be a good way to get back into it. Full disclaimer: I knew absolutely nothing about the story going into it.

And right from the first line it's clear that the setting is going to take some getting used to thanks to inevitable Zeerust, describing a landscape as being like a television turned to a dead channel, which in this case means gray static. Luckily I'm old enough to remember what that looks like, so it's not a problem. Slightly harder to get used to is what I'm guessing will be a major MacGuffin of a flask (ie flash drive) with a whopping 3 MB of RAM. It's the '80s, it's the '80s...

Our protagonist is Case, an Anti-Hero if ever there was one, a petty crook who got a bit greedy a couple years back and tried to skim off his boss, who responded by slipping him a drug that destroyed his Brain/Computer Interface like everyone has in this world. His ex-girlfriend Linda screws him over by lying that local mob boss Wage is looking to kill him for the above-mentioned flask, distracting him so she can rob him blind. But he can't bring himself to be angry about it, and seeing as she's portrayed as a promising young woman whose life he destroyed by getting her hooked on drugs, neither can I. At chapter's end he's approached by a mystery woman named Molly who takes Scary Shiny Glasses to the next level by having the lenses grafted onto her face, and also has extendable blades under her fingernails like Lady Deathstrike (who I've discovered was created at the same time this book was written, so Gibson is in the clear about ripping her off). In just a couple pages she's easily the best character introduced so far, and I'm eager to see more of her.

I can't really say the same about Case. The tricky thing about writing an anti-hero is that the audience still needs to be able to root for them despite their rough edges, and with this guy I'm really not. He comes across as an utter scumbag whose one sympathetic trait is something that was forced on him rather than an underlying possibility of redemption, who utterly deserves the con that Linda pulls on him. So far, I'm much more interested in the world Gibson creates than the story, with the differences in how the future has actually turned out just making it more interesting to read. Oh, and I should also mention another favorite character, Ratz, the bartender with a super strong mechanical arm that also happens to be colored pink, in what may be the greatest case of Real Men Wear Pink ever.

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