The Aftermath of Neuromancer

According the book, Neuro means from the nerves referring the silvery paths and mancer is derived from the regular word Romancer (whereas mancy means gaining knowledge through supernatural or unnatural means). I didn’t know what the title meant when I first glanced at it. I thought that it might be related to some sort of information processing through brains and that sort of thing. I thought it would be an easy read because I was in “sci-fi only” reading mode then. Little did I know that it would take me almost six months to complete this book.

I stumbled across the title and a vague relation of Neuromancer with Mr. Robot in one of my Facebook conversations. I did a brief wiki about it and realised that it is apparently one of the best books written about cyberspace and the web when the entire concept was quiet new in 1984. A lot of credit also went to the author for idealising such a concept during that era. So I was basically all hyped up about reading it.

I read the first few pages and fell instantly in love with it while at the same time I didn’t understand a single thing it meant. I loved it because it had a Japanese landscape reference (neon lights and Chiba – I also love the fact that most of the futuristic references are always centred on Japan) and after that I was lost. I couldn’t piece the smallest human sensations and feelings that the character felt with the city and everything else because the story just jumped right off from the first page. There was very little background information regarding basically everything in the book. William Gibson (the author) used a very poetic jargon that literally makes you use every single neuron in your brain to picture the story. I couldn’t get through the first few pages at the first read. I read it again once and twice and then I finally started to get a feel of the story. But by then I got tired (mentally) and couldn’t continue further. And this was just five pages into a book of 271 pages (though I felt like I have read more).

The story just confused me after that point. I realised that the author would just pop in characters out of nowhere with no history at all into the story like salt and pepper! I had to go through word by word to figure out where the story changes and his vocabulary was used with completely different references that kindle’s verbal dictionary was of no use. I had to google most of the words to get a pictorial understanding of it. He uses many Romaji (Japanese words in English) references like sarariman, zaibatsu, ono sendai, chatsubo etc which I didn’t understand in the first go but then thank god for google. I will say the same goes for his characters. I understood a bit about Case (the protagonist) but it was his partner/sidekick Molly who intrigued me the most. I wouldn’t call her a cyborg but she had made modifications to her body like getting glass disc eyes, razor blades retracting underneath her nails and many more which I found it hard to picture initially. I googled her character and when most of the sketches by fanarts matched the image which I had in my mind, I felt a little glimmer of hope in continuing to read this book.

If there is one thing I loved about the book, it was the way the different places and landscapes were described. These weren’t like your average artist painting a picture. It was more than that. Imagine your senses involved in a breathing technology that is not an AI. That’s what his scenes felt like. He gave life to them using the mundane objects. He even describes the fight scenes in a more beautiful and lucid manner that you would be pleased with the bloodshed and broken limbs. There is this one scene where he describes Molly's stance before a major fight and it is absolutely breathtaking. The same goes for the ninja Hideo and his movements and the subtlety in which he describes sex. I never understood all this at the first go rather only after reading the paragraph again did I get the whole picture and I was left completely spellbound.
This was the reason why it took me six months to complete this book. I often tried comparing the story with elements from Ghost in the Shell (sci fi anime) and understood certain terms like deck, flip, flatline, construct etc. I needed pauses in between to get a grasp and understanding of the story. There have been nights when I slept thinking and muttering Tessier – Ashpool and the complex structure of this AI. It’s at moments like these I feel proud for being a computer science student.

It was only after I was 40% done with the book did I read it without any breaks in between and I was so glad I did. It’s truly an amazing book and I can’t wait to finish the trilogy as well as other books by William Gibson! I kind of admire him like Murakami. And I think W. Gibson is like the technocratic version of Murakami.

Neuromancer is an amazing story written on a typewriter that was way ahead of its time during its publication and I still believe it is.


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