The book: Neuromancer, by William Gibson
The edition: Italian translation by Giampaolo Cossato and Sandro Sandrelli, as published by Editrice Nord, 256 pages
The story: see here (full story, spoilers included)
My experience with the book & my thoughts: imagine one of those spy stories or action movies where everyone is double-dealing and possibly triple-dealing and back-stabbing everyone else to the point that you come out of the theater with just a general idea of the plot, but would be hard pressed to explain the details. Now imagine a story set in a world that is completely different from what we know, and full of words that describe things we don’t have and therefore have no words for; and think about how difficult it is to enter this new world. Now combine the two and shake well. There you go, you have Neuromancer.
I read this with all the best intentions, but wasn’t ready for such impenetrable work. I understand that the effect was very much wanted, with Gibson saying:
I enjoy the idea that some levels of the text are closed to most readers.
I was aware that Neuromancer was going to seem like a roller coaster ride to most readers- you’ve got lots of excitement but maybe not much understanding of where you’ve been or why you were heading there in the first place.
Except, I didn’t get the excitement.
What I liked: letting the book scare me for how much Gibson got it right.
What I didn’t like: everything else.
Language & translation: a “less than stellar” translation (yes, that’s an euphemism) didn’t help my understanding or enjoying the book — I don’t think it was my major problem, but it certainly didn’t help. Below the bad translation, I can see why someone would describe the writing as in a Goodreads comment I saw:
Gibson’s writing is poetry, not jargon. It’s personal, internal and emotional, not cold and externally descriptive. It’s the dark, fevered dream of a world where humanity and technology have been inextricably fused together with results both miraculous and profane. His prose is slick and jagged like a serrated knife; beautiful, breezy and hard-edged. His verse is color of gunmetal and electricity and the texture of anger spilling on a meadow of dashed hope and unearned rewards.
but that’s a level on which I cannot comment, obviously. Also, the names of real companies, and the word “microsoft” used as a common word (as opposed to a company name), gave me a strange sense of estrangement.
Links to better understand this book: (very much needed from my part!)
- Gibson talks about the book and much more (I admit that because of the site colors I didn’t read all of it, only peeked at some parts)
- Comments on Goodreads
- 25 years later, what the author got right
Read this if: I guess if you want to know about science fiction and cyberpunk, you’ll need to read this.
Counts as: Back to the classics challenge – a translated classic.