Neuromancer (Anglais) Broché – 1 juillet 2000
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"Freshly imagined, compellingly detailed, and chilling in its implications." —New York Times
"Kaleidoscopic, picaresque, flashy and decadent...an amazing virtuoso performance." —Washington Post
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Prenant, plein de suspens, il n'y a rien d'étonnant à ce que ce roman ce soit imposé en son temps comme l'une des références en matières de cyberpunk/science fiction.
Seul avertissement (et qui explique ma note "relativement" basse), j'ai trouvé la lecture de ce livre (en anglais bien sur) particulièrement difficile. Je pense pouvoir dire sans trop me vanter que je possède un niveau en anglais plus que correct et j'ai déjà lu bon nombre de roman, articles et documents techniques dans la langue de Shakespeare. Est-ce du à l'univers cyberpunk et à son vocabulaire si particulier, au style de l'auteur/ à la narration (qui ne vous répétera pas deux fois la même information) ? Je ne saurai le dire. Je me rends compte en tout cas que je suis clairement passé à coté d'un bon nombre de détails ou nuances. A mon avis à déconseiller (en VO du moins) aux personnes totalement néophytes en matière de cyberpunk ou ne jouissant pas d'un (très ?) bon niveau en anglais.
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The first time I tried to read Neuromancer, I stopped around page 25.
I was about 15 years old and I'd heard it was a classic, a must-read from 1984. So I picked it up and I plowed through the first chapter, scratching my head the whole time. Then I shoved it onto my bookshelf, where it was quickly forgotten. It was a dense, multilayered read, requiring more effort than a hormone-addled adolescent wanted to give. But few years later, I pulled the book down and gave it another chance. This time, William Gibson's dystopic rabbit hole swallowed me whole.
Neuromancer is basically a futuristic crime caper. The main character is Case, a burnt-out hacker, a cyberthief. When the book opens, a disgruntled employer has irrevocably destroyed parts of his nervous system with a mycotoxin, meaning he can't jack into the matrix, an abstract representation of earth's computer network. Then he receives a suspiciously sweet offer: A mysterious employer will fix him up if he'll sign on for a special job. He cautiously agrees and finds himself joined by a schizophrenic ex-Special Forces colonel; a perverse performance artist who wrecks havoc with his holographic imaginings; a long-dead mentor whose personality has been encoded as a ROM construct; and a nubile mercenary with silver lenses implanted over her eyes, retractable razors beneath her fingernails and one heckuva chip on her shoulder. Case soon learns that the target he's supposed to crack and his employer and are one and the same -- an artificial intelligence named Wintermute.
Unlike most crime thrillers and many works of speculative fiction, Neuromancer is interested in a whole lot more that plot development. Gibson famously coined the word "cyberspace" and he imagines a world where continents are ruled more by corporations and crime syndicates than nations, where cultural trends both ancient and modern dwell side by side, where high-tech and biotech miracles are as ordinary as air. On one page you'll find a discussion of nerve splicing, on another a description of an open-air market in Istanbul. An African sailor with tribal scars on his face might meet a Japanese corporate drone implanted with microprocessors, the better to measure the mutagen in his bloodstream. When he's not plumbing the future, Gibson dips into weighty themes such as the nature of love, what drives people toward self-destruction and mind/body dualism. It's a rich, heady blend.
That complexity translates over to the novel's prose style, which is why I suspect my first effort to read it failed. Gibson peppers his paragraphs with allusions to Asian geography and Rastafarianism, computer programming and corporate finance. He writes about subjects ranging from drug addiction and zero-gravity physics to synesthesia and brutal back-alley violence. And he writes with next to no exposition. You aren't told that Case grew up in the Sprawl, which is the nickname for the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis, a concreted strip of the Eastern Seaboard, and that he began training in Miami to become a cowboy, which is slang for a cyberspace hacker, and that he was immensely skilled at it, et cetera, et cetera. No, you're thrust right into Case's shoes as he swills rice beer in Japan and pops amphetamines and tries to con the underworld in killing him when his back is turned because he thinks he'll never work again. You have to piece together the rest on your own.
Challenging? You bet. But it's electrifying once you get it.
I've worked by paperback copy until the spine and cover have split, until the pages have faded like old newsprint. Echoes of its diction sound in my own writing. Thoughts of Chiba City or BAMA pop into my head when I walk through the mall and hear a mélange of voices speaking in Spanish and English and Creole and German. Neuromancer is in me like a tea bag, flavoring my life, and I can't imagine what it would be like if I hadn't pressed on into page 26.
'Neuromancer' is the story of Case: a hacker-type, cyberpunk, whatever you want to call him. He makes hackers of today look like amateurs - he totally immerses himself into the machine. Washed-up and raked over the coals, he gets a chance at a come back, even if it isn't on the most pleasant of terms.
Read this book if you are a science fiction fan - if for no other reason than to see what all the hype is about. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
"imaginary" future Gibson has created is somewhat familiar,
yet bizarre enough to leave one grasping for understanding in the beginning pages. Once engrossed, I couldn't put it down! My constant back thought as I read was the absolute awe that I felt for Gibson's ability to envision a computer
world so 1990's true to life at a time when Apple had yet to
create their first Mac! Gibson's description of "jacking in" to the net, and "flipping" is so close to today's "logging on" and "quick-switching" that it gave me goosebumps each time he used the terms! Gibson was truly
touched by the muse of inspiration when writing "Neuromancer", and I'm sure we'll see more of his *prophecies* come to pass before the millenium.
This is advised reading for all who wish to understand the
potential of the internet and the World Wide Web. Just take it slow, by osmosis you'll get the scenario, and by the final chapter--you'll know the concept. You'll be awestruck
too, I guarantee!
Can't wait to read Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive!
I enjoyed the book the way one might enjoy a big Hollywood movie. The characterizations and plot were shallow and taken directly from noir and pulp fictions, no doubt about it. However, for all the times I've seen noir plots, I still enjoy them. I think the author made things fun, and kept the story going along smoothly. The ending did fall a little flat, but cyberpunk as a genre seems to flop the endings, and this was at least decent.
Also, I think it's easy to appreciate the futuristic setting of the book. True, it's a largely outdated view of the future, but it's an interesting world, and it's fun to see just how much Gibson got right back in 1984. I read this when I stayed live in post-bubble Osaka, and the book's view of the fringes of an efficient high-tech society struck a chord with me.
I can, however, understand people not comprehending what the hell's going on. I'd read half the novel before realising what was going on...but that's not the point.
It's very difficult to describe why this book is so great. Strictly speaking, it's not "poetry" or suchlike, it's not the "originality" of his writing style....
I suppose it could be described as a sort of Japanese minimalism and American mass consumerism blend society, which is Gibson's unique vision.
Here we don't have "x flew in spaceship to y, defeats z empire", but we have the world we know today, pushed to absolute overdrive. No pristine environment, or moving descriptions of the peace of space travel - here we have the dirty, hedonistic, consumerist, urban society we have today, driven by brandnames, bright lights, and no future; in essence, the Gen X-er's future.
It's not quite like Blade Runner, where it's a more Film Noir type city. Here we have technology used, not to benefit mankind but to sell to consumers - people who live out their lives as the pawns of corporations.
There is of course the wonderful descriptions of Virtual Reality/Internet, where mankind has created a sort of spirit-world, where depressed outcasts of this society can escape from the "world of meat".
I suppose this is why I think Neuromancer is great.