Today’s book shelf takes me to a science fiction classic, written by the father of the cyberpunk genre, William Gibson. This novel came out in 1984. I was to turn 12 that year, and if I had been given this book then, or any age shortly around then, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it.
On the other hand, I bet my friend, Sean, would have loved it, and I bet he probably read it fairly early on its publishing history.
What was then and now called cyberpunk definitely feels, at least to me, and with this story more like a tech noir, and it’s a great ride.
Having said that, let me provide a caveat, it took me a while to get into this one. Gibson’s writing style is less literal descriptive than it is impressionistic, conjuring images in your mind’s eye and coloring it with your own experiences.
The story centers around a console cowboy, Case, who gets pulled into a deal that sees him paired with a beautiful woman, Molly, with lenses covering her eyes, and razors extending from her fingers, a computer construct of a dead hacker, and a boss, Armitage, who may not be all that he seems.
But the run they find themselves on is as convoluted as the people who have been hired to do it.
We are thrown into the world where people jack into a matrix (long before the internet was even a thought in the public’s eye) and Artificial Intelligences run companies, but are trapped by their own programming.
Gibson creates a vivid, dangerous world, that may have seemed impossibly bizarre back in 1984, but in today’s day and age is very recognizable, even if things have not come to pass (yet) the way Gibson imagined them.
Case’s dark adventure takes us into orbit, visiting a space station, as well as taking us across the globe, both virtually and in the meat world (which is how Case sees most things – that he is trapped in his flesh, he’s only his true self on the matrix – at least for a while).
There is a lot going on in the story, and lots of interesting moments and characters as we are plunged into a strange, yet close to familiar world. I quite enjoyed this book, and now find that I may lean towards reading another of his tales.
It’s just amazing to me that the world Gibson created isn’t so very far off from what we’re heading towards, and some things we are already doing. The twists and the reveals of the story are well=crafted, and riding with Case and his associates made for a unique adventure that I would never have imagined back in 1984 when the book first debuted.