Apr 3, 2013

Neuromancer, by William Gibson (audiobook)

First, a note on audiobooks, this being my first foray into the field (I know, I'm a little behind the times). I have only two bones to pick with audiobooks: the first is that one naturally gets distracted in reading and often has to reread a sentence or paragraph a couple of times. The same thing happens with audiobooks, except it's so much more difficult to go back and "reread" a section you've missed. I therefore lost bits and pieces of the narrative, which is frustrating. My second problem is the way male readers voice female characters. I understand that they're trying to make them different so you can more easily follow the conversation, but the affected falsetto is too soft for female characters with hard personalities. Molly, in "Neuromancer," is a hardened fighter, but the reader's voice made her sound like a mewling lamb. Hardly fitting, I believe.

This is a seminal piece of science fiction, and has both affected and in some cases created our modern world. Written nearly 30 years ago, Gibson's impressive work instigated the phrases and concepts of cyberspace and cyberpunk, notions that still very much hold sway. This book is also the inspiration for The Matrix trilogy of movies, one of the best known cinematic works of the 2000s. Even just listening to it (I would like to go back some day and read it in the traditional paper format), one gets a sense of how huge an undertaking the imagining of this world was. Even more impressive is how well the book is written. It's so easy to get caught up in originality and grand ideas, thereby excusing an author for less-than-stellar writing - awarding them an A for effort, in a sense. But Gibson is a beautiful writer, too. His descriptions are easy to follow but lovely as well, and the emotions of the protagonist are laid out for the reader but not thrust upon him/her. I see why this has been such a popular book, even beyond its groundbreaking ideas, and I will definitely be reading more of Gibson's novels.

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