You can read this book online on several sites, including Archive.org. On PDF Whale, you can download the PDF version free, and you’ll also find a link to the author reading the full book on Youtube. Link to PDF Whale’s Neuromancer page.
I read the book, and I listened to a 2 hour radio play produced by the BBC, which was pretty cool to listen to, and it helped me get a better grasp on the story. Here’s a link to the radio play. My review is below the vid.
Descrip: Here is the BBC radio play of the novel that started it all, launching the cyberpunk generation, and the first novel to win the holy trinity of science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. With Neuromancer, William Gibson introduced the world to cyberspace–and science fiction has never been the same.
Case was the hottest computer cowboy cruising the information superhighway–jacking his consciousness into cyberspace, soaring through tactile lattices of data and logic, rustling encoded secrets for anyone with the money to buy his skills. Then he double-crossed the wrong people, who caught up with him in a big way–and burned the talent out of his brain, micron by micron. Banished from cyberspace, trapped in the meat of his physical body, Case courted death in the high-tech underworld. Until a shadowy conspiracy offered him a second chance–and a cure–for a price..
This book was published in 1984. It has so much to unpack! If it were released today, for the first time, it would still make a major impact on bestseller lists. As a testament to the genius of the author, not only does it stand up to modern cyberpunk, but it continues to offer a lot in terms of advancing the genre forward. The Matrix Trilogy of movies, as great as it was, is a watered down version of Gibson’s work. As far as movie comparisons, I found Neuromancer as good as the Bladerunner movies, and as far as literature, it ranks just below Dan Simmon’s Hyperion as the second best sci-fi novel I’ve read in the last 20 years.
Nearly everything you can guess as a cyberpunk trope is jammed into this novel, from the loss of humanity to artificial intelligence, to AI becoming sentient, to hackers trying to get into sensitive computer networks, except it was Gibson who had the first real grasp of all of these complex ideas, and who thrust them into the collective awareness like a hybrid fetus of man and machine. Is this a perfect novel?
No, I think, because it reads like an action-packed TV show, in that it jumps from one location or situation to another with no breathing room in between, and it forces the reader to have to run along to keep up. At times, it reads more like a James Bond fast and loose espionage thriller, with the protagonists nation-hopping all over continents and revealing only street level descriptions for each location, including outer space. Also, the novel assumes too readily that the reader is familiar with a ton of specialized hacker jargon, so if you don’t catch it right away, and absorb it, Gibson does not take much time to remind you about it later. Lastly, the ending is a little soft, in that one antagonist in particular is not dealt with in a satisfying way, but overall Gibson did tie up all the loose ends well for a broad conclusion that could (and did) lead to sequels. Overall, however, Gibson’s descriptions, innovations and thematic grandness are top-notch, and that’s why I rate this novel at a resounding 5 stars.