HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

Scroll down for comments...

Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems

Martin Kleppmann

4.8 on Amazon

241 HN comments

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Jared Diamond Ph.D.

4.5 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Cal Newport

4.6 on Amazon

239 HN comments

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

Robert C. Martin

4.7 on Amazon

232 HN comments

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

David Allen and Simon & Schuster Audio

4.5 on Amazon

231 HN comments

The Three-Body Problem

Cixin Liu, Luke Daniels, et al.

4.3 on Amazon

225 HN comments


William Gibson, Robertson Dean, et al.

4.4 on Amazon

218 HN comments

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Hardcover Journal and Elder Wand Pen Set

Insight Editions

4.8 on Amazon

212 HN comments

Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software

Erich Gamma , Richard Helm , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

208 HN comments

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading

Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

4.5 on Amazon

193 HN comments

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Yuval Noah Harari, Derek Perkins, et al.

4.6 on Amazon

191 HN comments

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition)

Benjamin Graham , Jason Zweig , et al.

4.7 on Amazon

188 HN comments

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

Charles Petzold

4.6 on Amazon

186 HN comments

Seveneves: A Novel

Neal Stephenson, Mary Robinette Kowal, et al.

4.1 on Amazon

184 HN comments

Cracking the Coding Interview: 189 Programming Questions and Solutions

Gayle Laakmann McDowell

4.7 on Amazon

180 HN comments

Prev Page 2/180 Next
Sorted by relevance

futureproofdonApr 12, 2021

Neuromancer is cool. Some would say it's the seminal book on cyberpunk, though I don't know how dated it feels now.

There's an excellent HN thread on this very topic that I'm sure you'll find value in: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24304799

epsonJune 14, 2021

Hyperion trilogy is extremely good.

Neuromancer is a must read, a true masterpiece.

Tales of Pilot Pirx is another type of sci-fi, also very enjoyable.

mandmandamonJuly 15, 2021

Not a William Gibson fan I take it - I heartily recommend you read Neuromancer if you enjoyed the Matrix / any cyberpunk at all.

m12konJan 4, 2021

See also the Dixie Flatline construct from Neuromancer (1984), an AI-reconstruction of a brilliant hacker https://williamgibson.fandom.com/wiki/Construct

FnoordonSep 10, 2019

Snow Crash, Cryptonomicon, Jennifer Government. Also, read through the thread. I saw Neuromancer recommended already :)

robotresearcheronOct 20, 2017

Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson (sequels to the more famous Neuromancer) have this idea. AIs obtain independence from humans in cyberspace (VR) and eventually make contact with AIs from elsewhere.

monknomoonApr 14, 2020

Pretty sure Neuromancer isn't a utopian novel, and that Gibson isn't a utopian.

jcubiconJuly 22, 2018

My Favorite Sci-Fi book is Neuromancer by William Gibson. Also Philip K. Dick books like Ubik or his short stories are awesome.

pmoriartyonJune 22, 2018

Neuromancer started it all, but I've always found Count Zero to be by far the best book in the trilogy.

dilaponDec 29, 2014

Wow, his books have changed (and Neuromancer is an absolute classic...you don't get that with every book), but I think all of his output that I've read has been quite good. His most recent, The Peripheral, is excellent.

cwilsononSep 30, 2015

Not only "what's wrong with you", but I took his addiction to amphetamines as a response to his addiction to the instant gratification the Internet provides, which is 100% relevant today.

Now I want to read Neuromancer again. Great book.

symmitchryonAug 6, 2020

That's definitely far-fetched. If anything, The Matrix is almost a word-for-word remake of Neuromancer by William Gibson (which is an amazing book). Plus a bit of Ghost In The Shell, perhaps.

blitmaponAug 19, 2018

Could you define the 'cypherpunk vision of a sovereign Internet'? I am genuinely curious. Is it just a decentralized internet? I grew up watching anime like Serial Experiments Lain and reading Neuromancer so I think I have some idea of what you're talking about.

pier25onJune 9, 2020

- Sapiens

- The Lord of the Rings

- Siddhartha

- Chaos: Making a New Science

- The Death Gate cycle books

- Neuromancer

- Head First Design Patterns

- Valis

- Dune

- The name of the rose

I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones off the top of my head.

lincolnqonApr 5, 2009

Neuromancer is the only one that I've read, and it was excellent. (I think it's also his most famous)

fishonMar 19, 2008

Neuromancer by William Gibson, though it might not be inspiring, is a must-read; it's practically internet heritage!

blacksmith_tbonJune 22, 2018

Gibson is a much better prose stylist than most of his SF-writing peers. Neuromancer shows his influences off pretty clearly (Robert Stone, William Burroughs, and a healthy dose of noir a la Hammett and Chandler), but cooks the resulting gumbo into something remarkable.

robin_realaonMay 20, 2011

BBC Radio 4 produced a two-part radio adaptation of Neuromancer around the turn of the century. It’s pretty good, if (understandably) heavily abridged. I’d not going to host it, but there are torrents around if you Google.

jrainesonMar 9, 2008

Damn, Neuromancer was good. Gibson created and transcended the genre in one book.

andyjohnson0onSep 7, 2016

> What would be a comparable read from Stross?

Accelerando [1] isn't in the same league as Neuromancer in terms of style and succinctness, but the idea-density is pretty high and it moves along at a nice pace.

[1] http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/fiction/accelera...

__sonJan 26, 2020

Read the rest of the trilogy this month, after having read Neuromancer a decade ago. Preferred MLO to Count Zero, though both were underwhelming

As for recommendations, if you liked his narrative voice you might also like Margarette Atwood, Oryx & Crake in particular

arkemonDec 30, 2014

I definitely think the Bigend Trilogy is as strong as the Sprawl Trilogy. Pattern Recognition and Neuromancer are my two favorite of his novels.

Sadly however, I'm having trouble with The Peripheral (his latest), maybe it'll grab me but it has yet to do so.

tedshroyeronApr 24, 2009

I remember enjoying Neuromancer by William Gibson

yowlingcatonMar 9, 2021

I absolutely loved "If on a winter's night, a traveller" -- it's in the rarefied company of scant few other works of fiction capable of conjuring such vivid, surreal, and dreamlike worlds -- I can only think of Neuromancer and Paprika off the top of my head.

DanBConMar 20, 2015

To be fair Neuromancer was published in 1984 so computers and word processing was weird and clunky and expensive.

PascLeRasconNov 10, 2017

I'm gonna highjack this thread to ask if anyone has any recommendations for scifi books to read after DADOES and Neuromancer. I sped-read them both after seeing the new Blade Runner and absolutely loving it and both of those books, though PKD's writing is a little 'different'.

JareonSep 15, 2014

The movie War Games came out in 1983, and Neuromancer the book in 1984.

I can't imagine a single tech-minded person in 1985 not dreaming of a connected world, and the myriad dangers it could bring. It's the speed with which it has spread and become mainstream that is astonishing.

bwldrbstonFeb 11, 2015

I've read Neuromancer about once a year since my late teens. It only took me about 10 years to realize there's actually some pretty good comedy in there...

busterarmonDec 9, 2019

I was born the year he wrote Neuromancer and I had already been familiar with his work before I was 10 (and playing Shadowrun since like '91). It's not an age thing.

ddrtonJuly 27, 2020

I recently started reading Neuromancer thinking it was going to be an interesting sci-fi short story. Boy was I mistaken (happy but still mistaken)

drpgqonAug 9, 2014

I ended up reading Neuromancer after playing the C64 game, which at the time I loved, but I'm sure if I saw it today I would laugh pretty hard at.

paultonNov 5, 2017

There's a recording[0] of Gibson reading Neuromancer that I really enjoyed. His reading is very stylistic and might be off-putting for some people, but I think it captures the spirit of the story better than a dry narration.

[0] http://www.bearcave.com/bookrev/neuromancer/neuromancer_audi...

goodgoblinonJuly 3, 2008

Neuromancer is even better than I remember. I saw it at a book sale for $1 and picked it up and started re-reading it. Its awesome. Very believable - gritty and messy like real life. Great characters and just flat out virtuoso writing by Gibson.

germinalphraseonNov 13, 2018

Sure - I started re-read Neuromancer recently and just felt a sense of wonder at knowing it was written in 1984. It was so conceptually solid for the time. So far on the edge.

Who’s doing that now?

bwldrbstonJuly 12, 2018

I've read Neuromancer and Snow Crash about once a year for nearly 20 years.

Michael Marshall Smith's early sci-fi books, Only Forward and Spares, have also had many re-reads.

egypturnashonSep 30, 2019

"Genres are often defined by what they are not, so here are some honourable mentions:


Gibson’s Neuromancer sets the tone for a vast quantity of cyberpunk in its dealings with AI and simulation, though I don’t feel this alone qualifies it."

elhudyonDec 12, 2018

Neuromancer is always at the top of scifi lists but I found it to be astonishingly strange and dull. I'm surprised I was even able to finish the read.

iuguyonMar 12, 2020

An earlier draft did have a chunk on Neuromancer, Gibson's hunt and peck typing approach and his new book but I had to take it out as I was at the length limit. I might do something more on some of the characters in Neuromancer when I do a piece on hackers, fact and fiction.

pjc50onJuly 17, 2019

I suspect it's a lot older than that. Neuromancer (1984) has direct brain control of hacking, and I think it's a trope in various 70s sci-fi. I wouldn't be surprised if someone could find a citation from before the war.

macandoonJuly 27, 2020

Neuromancer is horrible. One of the few books where I gave up midway through. My expectations were so high. I guess it's famous because it pioneered the genre.

jacquesmonJan 6, 2015

Gah, I'm really jealous! Just to be able to read all those books all over again with a fresh eye.

Find a copy of Neuromancer if you can & enjoy!

drallisononOct 19, 2010

William Gibson: Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive
Orson Scott Card: Enders Game
Neil Stephenson: Snowcrash
Isaac Asimov: The Foundation (series)

I am not sure these qualify as space epics, but they are all good reads.

damian2000onMay 28, 2012

I read somewhere that when Gibson wrote Neuromancer he had never owned a computer and so still had some lofty ideals of what they were capable of. When he finally got a Macintosh, the mechanical spinning and whirring of the floppy during boot disappointed him.

hodgesrmonJan 12, 2020

> “I was actually able to write Neuromancer because I didn’t know anything about computers,” he says. “I knew literally nothing. What I did was deconstruct the poetics of the language of people who were already working in the field.

This is one of the most powerful statements about the nature of art I've ever read. It's also a cogent insight into why we should teach the humanities.

algorithmsRcoolonMar 12, 2017

Ah, thank you. I read Permutation City in January right after I read Neuromancer and apparently got my wires crossed.

walrus01onAug 14, 2020

I think Gibson was trying to describe an overcast gray with a lot of reflected city light on its underside. Sort of like VHF/UHF analog TV snow. He literally wrote Neuromancer on a typewriter, despite the subject matter, in the late 70s and early 80s Gibson lived a quite low tech lifestyle.

_0ffhonOct 17, 2012

Both Neuromancer and Cryptonomicon are about "social, cultural and economic dynamics", and they are very good books to boot.

Try as I might, I can't remember any mocking of Turing in the Cryptonomicon. I'm quite confident Neal Stephenson is not a homophobe.

abosleyonOct 16, 2012

I'll have to say Neuromancer by William Gibson. Changed my worldview and what I thought was possible. I'm a huge fan of Ian M Banks, Charlie Stross, Ian MacDonald, Cory Doctorow, Peter Watts and older (90's) Stephen Baxter. Baxter's Titan is a great piece of writing - makes you feel the isolation of being millions of miles from humanity

BjoernKWonOct 9, 2017

Apart from classics like Neuromancer I'd recommend the fairly new Singularity Series by William Hertling and the first novel "Avogadro Corp" in particular.

nathanasmithonOct 10, 2017

A few of my favorites like Accelerando and Neuromancer have been mentioned but I’ll add Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge. It’s set in the near future but features general AI, lots of intrigue and conspiring governments and corporations. Really a great story.

unaloneonSep 15, 2009

Remember that book costs slide downward over time. I got me the complete Sherlock Holmes for a dollar, and a bit of Austen and Dickens for free. I think Neuromancer was about seven dollars, too. So it's not a flat price eating away at you.

schlagetownonNov 9, 2015

Watchmen (Alan Moore)

Origins of Form (Christopher Williams)

Starship & The Canoe (Kenneth Brower)

The Size of Lumber (Nicholson Baker)

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (Shunryu Suzuki)

Deschooling Society (Ivan Illich)

Moby Dick (Herman Melville)

Bolo'Bolo (P.M.)

Le Ton beau de Marot (Douglas Hofstadter)

Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth (James Lovelock)

Mouse or Rat: Translation as Negotiation (Umberto Eco)

Neuromancer (William Gibson)

The Intelligent Investor (Benjamin Graham)

Don Quixote (Miguel Cervantes)

ahionOct 13, 2010

"The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." Gibson in 2003.

I reread Neuromancer and Count Zero this past summer. Still incredible 25 years later. I kept stumbling across tech cliches then realizing Gibson was the original.

virtualwhysonMar 1, 2017

Just read Neuromancer this summer. One of the benefits of renting random people's places are the libraries you run across; that was a great read (though somehow disturbing, mystical/mind blowing, and hollow inducing all at the same time).

CpollonJune 1, 2017

A year before that was Snow Crash, which described the dominance of corporate enclaves in a compelling fashion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_Crash

Of course, the earlier Neuromancer had many of the same themes. Both are seminal works in the cyberpunk genre.

notheruseronOct 2, 2018

Not true that Gibson's prose has a short shelf life. Neuromancer is in my view a timeless masterpiece, and Gibson's most recent book is set in the future.

airlabamonAug 22, 2011

What about Neuromanc--oh. 1984. Drat, that's a good 9 years later. Well, I was/am still very fond of Neuromancer and can't wait to get around to reading more of Gibson's other work, along with Dick's work. Does Lem address Gibson at all at any point?

winkonFeb 19, 2017

If the Neuromancer trilogy is not your first clash with cyberpunk... well at least for me there was hardly anything that was noticibly hard to understand. But if you've played Shadowrun for a while...

more_originalonFeb 4, 2017

I'm currently reading Neuromancer again. Still doesn't feel dated.

polskibusonMay 12, 2020

Neuromancer by Gibson, Black Oceans by Jacek Dukaj.

anoonmooseonJune 9, 2020

"The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress" by Robert Heinlein

"Neuromancer" and sequels by William Gibson

"Slaughterhouse 5" by Kurt Vonnegut

I've read all of them dozens of times over. Hard to explain why, they speak my language, and help me understand myself and the world around me, kind of like my favorite bands do. Hard to put into words.

artie_effimonJuly 10, 2020

Short stories by Haruki Murakami - The Elephant Vanishes

Waiting for Godot (play) - Beckett

Neuromancer - Gibson

sshineonAug 13, 2018

All my recommendations happen to be mentioned on this list, so I'll mention them here:

- Stealing the Network, a collection of short stories. One of those stories was written by Fyodor of nmap and is available online: http://insecure.org/stc/ -- this sort of works like a tutorial for nmap and networking security. :-D

- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

- Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

- Neuromancer by William Gibson

perl4everonSep 8, 2019

I've never actually read Neuromancer, but Alexander Jablokov wrote some novels similar to what I imagine Neuromancer is like. For example, Nimbus and A Deeper Sea. Near future written in the early 90s.

thatusertwoonFeb 26, 2014

A Scanner Darkly - Philip K Dick
Neuromancer - William Gibson
Expanded Universe - Robert A. Heinlein

sagarjauharionApr 9, 2015

Currently reading

  * 7 languages in 7 weeks, Bruce A. Tate
* Coders at Work, Peter Seibel
* Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
* Neuromancer, William Gigson

Just finished

  * The Island of Doctor Moreau, H G Wells
* Brave new world, Aldous Huxley


  * The Martian: A Novel, Andy Weir
* Dune, Frank Herbert
* 2001: A space odyssey, Arthur C Clarke

chmod775onJune 13, 2019

I don't know how old you are now, but Neuromancer was published in 1984, Blade Runner hit the cinemas 1982, and later the GITS movie in 1995 (manga published 1989), which inspired the Matrix movies and so on. Don't forget about Akira.

Dystopian futures aren't really anything new.

pizzaonDec 25, 2014

Books I imagine will have 'tremendous' (what a prior, lol) effect


Slavoj Zizek's Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism

Evgeny Morozov's To Save Everything Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism


William Gibson's Neuromancer

Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky (Zones of Thought)

crucinionDec 29, 2014

Neuromancer was amazing. I realize now that Gibson's books monotonically decreased in quality.

The books have gotten thicker, artier, more self-indulgent, and weaker.

I'm sure he'd like to recapture the magic he had at 34, but maybe it requires the fear he spoke of. And an absolute ignorance about computers and networks.

I think it shares more with The Maltese Falcon than with any SciFi.

Saw WG complaining about GamerGate recently and thought how much he's aged, and how ungracefully, since GG and Operation Disrespectful Nod reminded me of the Panther Moderns.

akanetonJune 1, 2018

I strongly disagree. Pattern recognition broke new ground for Gibson. It was a novel examining the role of information and aesthetics have in shaping a very near-future society. Neuromancer is a grand, outer-space cowboy adventure, with all sorts of interesting technological ideas, but it's certainly distinct from what pattern recognition achieved.

idoescompootersonDec 10, 2013

I picked up Neuromancer recently and for the first time in a while I stopped reading it a little less than half way because it was so bad. I just could not get into it. I like the topic and genre and all, but it was just not grabbing my attention.

jhbadgeronFeb 14, 2020

"Even today Gibson says he is puzzled by older readers who approach him at book signings to thank him for inspiring them to pursue a career in tech."

Yes, it is weird how the world of Neuromancer and his other early novels were dystopian, but many people didn't see it as "gee, we need to prevent this world from coming into being" but rather as "gee, the technology these characters have is amazing".

gdyonMay 18, 2019

Well, my first reaction to your critique of the "Three body problem" was to argue because I liked it, but on the second thought I've decided to ask you for the reading recomendations :)

I guess I'm looking for sci-fi involving grand picture of the universe or 4X-style books, but not necessarily limited to it.

Out of the books you've named, I've read Diamond Age and Neuromancer and while I can't say anything bad about them I still like the Liu Cixin's book more.

"Deepness in the Sky" is on my to read list.

I haven't read Martin Iden, but liked Alaska stories a lot. Remarque is good, but I like Heinrich Böll much more.

jrjarrettonJuly 30, 2014

Count Zero, by Gibson.

Just finished Neuromancer (for the first time! Bad geek! No cookie!), and plan to read Mona Lisa Overdrive next.

joebadmoonApr 5, 2011

I think WG has always said that writing sci fi for him and many SF authors was always really about the present. And if you read Neuromancer again, it really does bear out.

neuromancer2600onOct 12, 2009

+1 for Neuromancer.

I recommend a non-fiction book for a different read: The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank.

mkramlichonSep 1, 2010

Snow Crash came long before Cryptonomicon, and the former dealt more with virtual reality than the latter (IIRC).

However, Neuromancer and the other Gibson Cyberpunk novels came well before Snow Crash.

Also, Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings.

linsomniaconJune 22, 2018

I just finished the audiobook of Neuromancer a week ago, and I didn't really enjoy it. I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read it. I love other what I think of as similar books like Snowcrash and Diamond Age. I had high hopes for Neuromancer, which maybe that was part of it, but I just didn't enjoy it. It kind of turned into a slog and I nearly gave up at around 90%, but just pushed through because I was so close.

Is it just me?

ohaideredevsonMay 18, 2019

What type of books are you interested in? Since you didn't specify, I am going random: Martin Eden by Jack London, anything BESIDES All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque, Neuromancer by Gibson.

If you are fishing for me to run out of books that are "better" than TBP, honestly, it would be a long list. If you are genuinely interested, tell me what kind of books you like, and I will be glad to give you more.

cletusonDec 9, 2019

I knew someone would bring up Neuromancer and honestly I'm with the GP here. I find Gibson highly overrated. I find Neuromncer in particular extremely overrated. It's not bad. It's just nothing exceptional as a piece of writing.

Now I read it many years after it came out so I suspect a lot of the fawning comes from nostalgia and those who happened to be the right age when it came out to be blown away by his ideas.

There GP had it right though. Cyberpunk was a flash inn there pan and a lot less interesting once you realize it was a thinly veiled expression of xenophobia about the Japanese.

Some works are exceptional because their exceptional. Others are viewed as such because they're pioneering and while credit is due for Novell ideas often the only thing holding that up later is nostalgia over what's really a pedestrian work of fiction.

goatinaboatonMar 15, 2021

I hope the best for VR/AR, and the worst for Facebook

It's funny, Tron was one of the most memorable movies of my childhood. Later I watched Star Trek with the Holodeck, read Neuromancer and Snow Crash, dabbled with VRML, played with the SGI CAVE at university. I ought to be hugely excited by the progress in VR. But... I'm just not. Because Facebook and friends are not doing it because it's cool or because it will be useful to humanity, to them it's just another siphon to hoover up and monetise your personal data by steering you into purchasing and voting decisions that benefit them, not you. After literally decades of anticipation, I doubt I will bother to participate in VR.

harelonAug 13, 2018

Two books come to mind (while excluding the obvious absolute classics like Neuromancer (William Gibson) and Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson):

"Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson. It goes from WW2 to modern time.

"Cyberpunk" by Katie Hafner - Read it aeons ago so working from long term memory. 3 real world stories of famous hackers and their "crimes" (Kevin Mitnick, Pengo, Robert Morris).

code_WhispereronMay 30, 2017

Some choice fiction:

Daemon, by Daniel Suarez

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

Gold Bug Variations, by Richard Powers

Galatea 2.2, by Richard Powers

Off to Be the Wizard, by Scott Meyer

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline

Neuromancer, by William Gibson

The Adolescence Of P-1, by Thomas J. Ryan (from when I was just a kid)

elorantonSep 8, 2019

Because we don't always like awarded books. I read "The Three Body Problem" a couple of years ago which had won a Nebula award and found it to be mediocre at best and much overhyped. Last year I read the "Neuromancer" which had won both a Nebula and a Hugo and was for me one of the worst SF books I've ever read. And then there are books which are brilliant, but have never won an award, like "The Martian".

elorantonSep 8, 2019

So, name five other books which are like Neuromancer and you liked them. I'll try one or two of them, if I haven't read them already. Incidentally I've read a lot of Gibson's books and Neuromancer was the one I liked the least. Probably because it was his first and not as polished as the rest. Or perhaps because by today's standards the cyber warfare he's describing sounds ludicrous. I do like his cyberpunk atmosphere though.

jknoepfleronSep 8, 2019

I had a very hard time finding things to like in Neuromancer. It was a long time ago, but iirc the prose is pretty clunky, the characters are made of cardboard, and the plot has all the depth of a Ridley Scott movie. The world building was on point, but there's only so much 80's zeitgeist ("everything is awful, you'll be replaced piecemeal by machines, faceless megacorps rule over vast slums of pleasure junkies bathed in acid rain") that a person can channel with a straight face. Like I love me some weird dystopian cyberpunk universes, but I want that to be the starting point, not the ending point.

(Conversely, by way of making a positive contrast with something in a similar genre that , I really enjoyed A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick).

To be totally clear, I think Neuromancer is probably a thoroughly enjoyable read and I'd recommend it to someone looking for what it is without hesitation. It's just pretty easy to take umbrage with.

chrisherdonDec 12, 2018

- The Prince (get's a bad press, thought provoking)

- Apex [Nexus 3] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Factfulness (Awesome, most important book I read this year)

- Prisoners of Geography (why nations act the way they do)

- Crux [Nexus 2] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Debt: the first 5000 years (slog to get through but interesting)

- Nexus [Nexus 1] (prose is meh, inevitable life goes this way)

- Digitocracy (super short story, super powerful message)

- Artemis (Not as good as the martian)

- Before Mars (Starts out great, fizzles out)

- Down and Out in Magic Kingdom (How reputation based social currency might pan out)

- Blood Sweat and Pixels (How games are really made)

- Masters of Doom (Awesome story of how the game was made and what it led to)

- Foundation [Foundation 1] (Prescient with where the world is, what might happen in reality)

- Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can't... (Ok, not great, read it on blinkist)

- Ender's Game (Under rated, most fun I had reading this year, I know...)

- Neuromancer (classic, must read)

- Pre-suation (interesting and worth reading if starting a consumer facing business)

- The Three-Body Problem (Found it tedious, honestly. Interesting though)

- Radical Candour (A lot of common sense advice we take for granted and could do better with)

- Seveneves (Longggggg, but really worth it. Shame about the ending)

- The Virgin Banker (Really good read, how a bank came into being)

- Why information grows (Great read, could of been half the length, would recommend)

- Babylon Revisited (Meh)

- Money: the Unauthorised Biography (Simplistic history of money before and after coin. Good)

- Hellbent (Enjoyed it, good for a holiday read)

- Snow Crash (Classic, Awesome, read it)

- The little prince (must read)

- To Pixar and Beyond (A different viewpoint on Jobs)

tmalyonJuly 16, 2018

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series is one of my all time favorites.

Larry Niven’d Ringworld is a close second.

Philip K Dick has some great stuff.

I really enjoyed William Gibson’s Neuromancer and all of his other books.

I just picked up a 1961 copy of Stanger in a Strange Land but I cannot comment on it yet.

facepalmonAug 9, 2014

I recently tried to make a list of good virtual reality reads (not all of them cyberpunk, though):

Otherland - Tad Williams

Ready Player One

Daemon - David Suarez

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Shadowrun - ?? there are lots of possibly varying quality, I only read the ones by Nigel Findley which I liked

Snowcrash - Stephenson

Reamde - Stephenson

Der falsche Spiegel - Sergej Lukianenko (not sure about the english name)

Masters of Doom - Story of ID developing the games Doom and Quake - not really a VR story, but it sets the mood.

Pollen - Jeff Noon

Bruce Sterling is great, too, but I don't remember which of his stories are about virtual reality.

I suppose Ian Bank's "The Culture" novels might be a candidate, but I haven't read them yet.

keiferskionDec 6, 2019

This reminds me of the coffin hotels in Neuromancer / one of the Gibson cyberpunk novels, although the real-life version is decidedly less cool (and probably more comfortable.)

In any case: if the cost was lower, I personally would find this somewhat appealing. A private bed and storage space in lower Manhattan for say, $400 a month, would actually be a decent deal. You'd have to be extremely minimalist, but that would be a feature and not a bug for the right audience. Add a VR system to each pod and you won't even notice the lack of space.

blacksmith_tbonSep 30, 2019

I think a lot of people are critical of Gibson for not knowing enough about computers (he did write Neuromancer on a manual typewriter), but I think that misses the point - he had a poet's eye for where technology could go. Of course, on the other side, a lot of people also seem to think he was recommending a dystopian future, instead trying to warn against one... (admittedly by making it beautiful and dangerous he straddles both).

FnoordonOct 6, 2017

Approx 80-100 years according to Wikipedia [1]. Though no source is cited.

The world of Snow Crash, where a few corporations own the entire world with a very tiny government, is also the basis of the book Jennifer Government [2] by Max Barry.

I found that book a bit easier to read. Diamond Age, I can't get through it yet. Cryptonomicon, also by Neil Stephenson is on my list, as well as Neuromancer by Gibson.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diamond_Age#Snow_Crash

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Government

pmoriartyonOct 11, 2014

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" was a minor work of Philip K Dick. The movie inspired by it, "Blade Runner" (the original version, not the director's cuts) was far, far better.

"Minority Report" was also a pretty forgettable short story, and this time the movie made of it was mediocre.

"A Scanner Darkly" was yet another minor PKD work that was made in to yet another movie. It seems this list of scifi books if partial towards books made in to movies. But just because they've been made in to movies doesn't make the original book good, much less great.

As far as PKD books go (which is quite far, as he is one of my favorite authors), I would recommend "Ubik", "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch", and "Martian Time Slip".

And of his short stories, I'd recommend "Beyond Lies the Wub" and "Woof".

Gibson's "Neuromancer" is alright, but "Count Zero" is better. Avoid the rest of his work.

"Brave New World" is an incredibly overrated, heavy-handed propaganda novel, written without a shred of talent. Avoid.

"Dune" is great, though I prefer the last few books of the original (Frank Herbert) series: "God Emperor", "Heretics", and "Chapterhouse". Definitely skip "Children" and "Messiah".

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is utterly brilliant, and is deserving of a place on a top-10 scifi novels list.

I enjoyed "Foundation" and "I Robot" as a kid. Not sure if I'd still like them now, decades later. Likewise for "Farenheit 451" and "Ender's Game".

I haven't read "Atlas Shrugged", but I did read "The Fountainhead", which amounted to a very long-winded statement of Ayn Rand's philosophy with two-dimentional characters serving as mouthpieces for it. It could have easily been stated in 30 pages, but instead was stretched out over 600.

huhtenbergonSep 7, 2016

Stross next to Gibson and Stephenson... hmm.

I tried The Atrocity Archives but I couldn't get past the first half. It felt like a pile of nerd paraphernalia force-stuffed into a story line.

I mean... Neuromancer is a true masterpiece from the story to the concepts to the succinct writing, just perfect. Snow Crash is less perfect, but exceptionally enthralling nonetheless. What would be a comparable read from Stross?

pmoriartyonNov 30, 2020

"what they failed to capture is the dissonant tone of our modern dystopia"

I just reread Neuromancer and Count Zero, and the main thing I was struck by that Gibson didn't predict was today's omnipresent surveillance.

The people in his novels don't voluntarily carry around tracking devices and recoring devices. What they read and watch isn't tracked, and neither are their preferences or the opinions they express. They tend to have much more privacy than most people do today.

In this respect, I find today's society closer to 1984 than to Brave New World. It's 1984, complete with Newspeak, doublethink and Two Minutes of Hate for the boogeyman of the day, telescreens that combine televisions with security cameras and microphones what monitor what you do.

It's interesting that Gibson chose not to incorporate such dystopian themes in his books, and opted for what is in many ways a more optimistic dystopia.

stuxnet79onSep 12, 2015

What I really liked about Neuromancer looking back, is how many black characters it had. Once of the first sci-fi books I read that had characters I could easily identify with.

Maelcum was pivotal in the entire story and was a cool bad boy type. And you can't forget the whole crew in the "Marcus Garvey" spaceship.

Quality stuff. That right there was enough to make me a lifelong Gibson fan.

lowglowonAug 1, 2014

Maker Media (makerfaire, makezine) is Hiring a full-stack hacker (rails, node, web apps)


When you look up and out over the city, does your mind drift towards questions about how the world works? Do you feel like you could do more than what you're doing now? Deep in the vast blue grand planet there exists a voice calling you, growing from a whisper all the way to a roaring rush of inspiration: Build.

We want to do great things too. We want to inspire this driving voice in others. We're a small group inside of Make (makezine, makerfaire, etc), that is setting out on a journey to explore how people interact, share, and publish their experiences online. This isn't code for stealth mode, you'll be shaping a product from its inception, launch, and beyond.

We're looking for critical thinkers that also want to bring smart talent to the pack. If you enjoy building projects from scratch, wearing many hats, and learning a lot along the way, then this is your place.

These are some of the things we're immediately looking for:

- Full-stack developers with startup experience. (Experience scaling is a big plus)
- JS (Front-end frameworks)
- Rails, Node
- Postgres, MongoDB, MySQL, etc (Use what works)
- Bonus: Having read Diamond Age, Snow Crash, Neuromancer
- Extra Bonus: Interest in Machine Learning

What we offer:

- Typical equipment you would expect: Laptop, Monitor, Food/Snacks
- Free passes to Make events

Our culture:

- On Fridays, we'll build extracurricular software/hardware projects. Want to learn how to use an oscilloscope, code some microcontrollers, build an autonomous robot, or talk to a satellite? Cool. We'll hack on that.
- We have access to awesome amounts of makers. We'll bring some of them in every month to chat with us.
- We're also right by the Exploratorium: Expect field trips.

Find out more:

Send us an email with some projects you've created. Bonus points for launching and having actual battlefield stories.

TRcontrarianonJuly 23, 2021

The founding text is Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (1992). It's short, funny, entertaining, and full of new ideas in a freewheeling early 90's spirit. The list in the comment you are replying to is not bad, since most interactions you will ever have with someone about a metaverse will hinge on shared descriptions you have with them of a metaverse, so whichever books you hear about the most are by definition the most useful ones to read.

Almost everyone has read or heard of Ready Player One (2011), which contains extensive descriptions of its own corporate dystopic metaverse, albeit one that I find insufferably cliche and unoriginal.

Metaverse descriptions are descended from the first cyberspace descriptions in Neuromancer (1984) which is a beautiful book worth a read.

DigitalJackonDec 26, 2012

I loved Neuromancer and Burning Chrome, to a lesser extent count zero and mona lisa overdrive.

But, the blue ant books are so boring! I am so genuinely perplexed whenever anybody recommends them. Honestly I can't say anything after Pattern Recognition is any good or not as I never gave it a shot.

I guess I just struggle with what exactly and who exactly I'm supposed to be paying attention to in Pattern Recognition. Too many asides that I only found distracting and not amusing or even interesting.

But I loved the sprawl series so much, I keep trying to pick up Gibson again. I'm just left mystified what anyone sees in his recent 5 or 6 books.

I did read the Sprawl books pretty much as they were published, or within a couple years. I think I was in 6th grade when I read Neuromancer the first time.

RetriconSep 8, 2019

I read Neuromancer in the early 90’s and thought it was very cliched at the time. Granted that’s ~10 years after publication, but it barrows heavily from earlier works.

I suspect people like it for the same reason they liked their first Anime, it’s an unusual style that seems very original unless you have been reading other stuff written in the same vein by say Philip K. Dick.

prionsonMar 1, 2017

Seeing this list inspired me to write about the list I keep for the books I read, many of them cyberpunk/scifi. After reading so many of these types of books, you can't help notice their elements in other media.

It's interesting in seeing the print inspirations for many of these movies. The term "The Matrix" was first coined in William Gibson's Neuromancer and considered to be the seminal Cyberpunk novel, even predating Ghost in the Shell.

Definitely a must read for any Cyberpunk fan!

robotkdickonJune 19, 2018

From a commentary about the linked article:

The common denominator in all of Dick’s fiction is a world beset by an unconstrained and monstrous entropy that devours matter and even time

Reference: https://dynamicsubspace.net/2010/05/09/stanislaw-lems-philip...

And also from the linked article:

The writings of Philip Dick have deserved a better fate than that to which they were destined by their birthplace. If they are neither of uniform quality nor fully realized...

Unlike Stephen King, Dick's books aren't very easy to read from cover to cover, but they're filled with rich references of dystopian tragedy.

William Gibson's Neuromancer is a little easier, but leans more stylistic similar to A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, who relied on a Russian-influenced argot called "Nadsat", which takes its name from the Russian suffix that is equivalent to '-teen' in English to inject the character's language with a certain brand of nastiness to go with the subverted plot.

Stanley Kubrick successfully adapted King's The Shining and Clockwork Orange, but failed to wrap his mind fully around Dick, methinks, as he could never bring a Dick-influenced project to its feet, A.I., which Spielberg couldn't do much with either.

Part of the adventure in reading Dick is figuring out what the hell happened before the novel began to have such a devastating effect on the present he so vividly presents.

Since he died, the imaginative powers of Dick have been tapped and retapped by Hollywood, (Bladerunner, Blade Runner 2049, The Man in the High Castle, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Total Recall, The Adjustment Bureau, Screamers) ...and sometimes the results are even pretty good (despite the esoteric nature of his writing).

There's a lot to be learned about our existential existence from reading Dick, and I associate him more with Kafka and Camus, than his science fiction genre-mates.

vermilinguaonDec 26, 2020

In Neuromancer (William Gibson's 1984 genre-defining cyberpunk novel), the Turing Police enforce laws prohibiting the creation of any superintelligent AI. I don't want to spoil anything, so we'll leave it there.

KineticLensmanonMar 11, 2019

> A great book that still stands the test of time.

Agree. I think one of the reasons is that Brunner doesn't actually precisely describe the technology except in terms like 'the home phone service was tied into the net'. This makes it very easy to superimpose our modern perceptions onto a book that is now 45 years old. It's almost less jarring than the mid-80s cyberpunk classics such as Neuromancer with its no-mobile-phones and line-printers-in-space-stations.

unpythoniconSep 5, 2017

I used to commute in silence or listening to the radio for my daily Silicon Valley drive (237 Milpitas to Mountain View), and by the time I got to work, I'd be angry, frustrated, and cognitively spent.

Listening to audio books has allowed me to relax, enjoy the reading, and get to work excited about the day.

I treat the time as a chance to "read" those books which I wouldn't normally spend either my work hours nor my free time hours on. It's a chance to get informed on topics that are only slightly related to work, but expand your mind in ways that will make you a better thinker, and thus a better programmer.

The books I've found particularly good on audio are:

* Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

* Thinking, Fast and Slow

* How Not to be Wrong

* Ready Player One

* Neuromancer

0_____0onApr 25, 2021

It tickles me to know that, for all the future-gazing technology-laden stories he spun, that his seminal novel Neuromancer was composed on a typewriter

KineticLensmanonSep 10, 2019

From Neuromancer [0], William Gibson's 1984 genre-defining cyberpunk novel

> "Operation Screaming Fist," which planned on infiltrating and disrupting Soviet computer systems from ultralight aircraft dropped over Russia.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromancer

SimucalonJune 1, 2010

I grew up reading Neuromancer and the Sprawl trilogy. I can honestly say that it largely influenced me into my current career (programmer).

I really wish that Gibson wasn't so bored with capital F Future. I would love to see what kind of hard-scifi novel he could produce today.

Everything he wrote seemed so terrible and magnificent at the same time and I strongly believed that it helped shape the direction of technological progress for a generation. You can't capture the hearts and minds of an entire generation of teen geeks and it not leave its mark.

criddellonJune 9, 2020

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller and Neuromancer by William Gibson. Both of these I've read twice.

The Dog Stars held up well on my second reading. Neuromancer did not.

myWindoonnonMay 22, 2018

The essentials, looking at my non-CS shelves:

* "Alice in Wonderland", Carroll

* "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid", Hofstadter

* Either "His Dark Materials", Pullman; or "Illuminatus!", Shea and Wilson

* "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", Adams (all of its sequels are also good)

* "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and "Lila", Pirsig

* Either "Watchmen", Moore and Gibbons; or "1984" or "Animal Farm", Orwell

* "Neuromancer" or "Pattern Recognition", Gibson

Be wary of anybody who recommends self-help, attitude improvement, psychology, business/management, or similar genres.

Also, I notice that some folks have recommended the official Steve Jobs biography. From my biography shelf, I humbly recommend instead "iCon", by Young and Simon, which is unauthorized and much more detailed.

makmanalponDec 30, 2014

Also, having written a classic like Neuromancer early on is a surefire way to screw your career over, if only purely in terms of living up to and topping expectations. Just look at J.K. Rowling and her new book. She (rightfully) tried to get a pen name so that people wouldn't associate the new stuff with the old, but clearly they didn't let her have that. No shit it wasn't another Harry Potter, rarely can people churn out classic after classic. If you write anything that isn't even more mindblowing, it's considered a flop, and I think that's pretty harsh.

I quite enjoyed his essay book "Distrust that particular flavor", and I just read The Peripheral and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Nothing genre-expanding, but solid, and has good ideas.

krapponSep 30, 2019

William Gibson didn't actually know much about computers or networks when he wrote Neuromancer (on a manual typewriter IIRC)... ironic given that he coined the word "cyberspace."

And as far as inspiration goes, it's worth noting that Blade Runner came out as William Gibson was finishing Neuromancer, and he almost gave up on it because he was afraid that by the time the book came out people would think he was ripping off the movie.

I don't think the Matrix needs to "credit" Neuromancer as an inspiration, though. The Matrix draws from a lot of sources, but being cyberpunk, inspiration from Neuromancer is a given.

electricslpnsldonJune 22, 2018

> Neuromancer, William Gibson’s first novel, was published in 1984. It helped to establish the cyberpunk genre of science fiction

Cyberpunk dates at least a decade before Neuromancer -- Brunner's Shockwave Rider form 1974 comes to mind (and is a pretty interesting and strangely timely read, given that it is almost 50 years old).

SangermaineonJune 22, 2018

> I heard from some people that it hadn't aged too well

Good, you'll know who to avoid in the future.

>In particular, the language used to describe drug states and events in cyberspace (such as the Kuang virus) was just so vivid and disorienting. (Or I guess "hypnagogic", to use a Gibsonian word.) A less talented author would have made it feel rote and computery, whereas this cyberspace felt more like a collective fever dream.

It's because Gibson doesn't come from a technical background (he famously wrote Neuromancer on a typewriter and had never even seen a personal computer at the time), but was a hippie deep into the drug subculture of the time.

I think being too into the technical side of things may actually be a hindrance when writing these kinds of books, and that Neuromancer resonated so widely precisely because it wasn't hung up on the details. It didn't need the right descriptions of technology, it needed to evoke the right kind of feeling and look at the right way of interacting with technology.

crucinionDec 12, 2016

OK. I find Neuromancer and Snow Crash pretty similar, as raw, high energy cyberpunk books with no attempt at respectability. Gibson was artier and a better writer (in the narrow sense of prose stylist.) It's kind of hard to picture someone liking one and disliking the other.

Now I could see liking those early books and disliking the later output of both authors; they became wordier, softer, more pretentious - while keeping a lot of merit.

csnewbonNov 28, 2017

Code Complete, Clean Code, and Debugging were profoundly educational to me as a junior developer. The Obstacle is the Way helped me deal with personal issues, but it's still a work in progress. The Joy of Less was a great introduction to minimalism. I just started reading Neuromancer but its got me hooked on the scifi/cyberpunk genre.

ohaideredevsonFeb 4, 2019

I agree with you entirely - books are escapism. But there are levels of escapism - you would agree that a book is better than heroin, right? If so, you agree that there is a hierarchy. Reading teaches a lot of useful skills, such as, you know, reading.

Then there is the fact that both video games and books can teach, but there are diminishing returns. When I first read Snow Crash and Neuromancer, they taught me a lot of things. Now there is virtually nothing I can draw from most sci-fi.

curiousgeorgeonJan 12, 2015

> “The type of person who is attracted to these jobs and thus to the Seattle area seems to be... strangely entitled...." Arlene said that she was once contacted by a Microsoft programmer on OKCupid who required that she read Neuromancer before “he would consider taking me out on a date. He was not joking.”

The idea that a guy should feel grateful for the opportunity to take a girl who looks down on him out to dinner is pretty far up there if we're chalking up examples of self-entitlement. Makes me suspect the real reason for her reaction was surprise at not being in the traditional position of judging and rejecting the guy first.

jlourenco27onSep 2, 2019

In this summer, for my vacations, I've decided to re-read several of sci-fi books, with some popular new ones, and opted for a ebook reader (kindle) to avoid carring several pounds of books to the beach. Started with Isaac Azimov's Foundation triology (all), made a jump to William Gibson's Neuromancer and now, just ended Frank Herbert's Dune (1st volume only).

Coincidence is seeing this article just after returning from the vacation's, still imagining riding on a Shai-Hulud.

The only true comment that would like to add to this thread regarding Blanch's "The Sabre Paradise" is something that I've heard from an old teacher: most, probably all the books are derived from Homer's Odyssey; which created most of the writing styles, characters constructions and interactions, world creations, etc. After, there's not a single book that brought anything new to the writing, except the way you mix or the characters that you replace.

But even with this idea in mind, we cannot say that reading Homer's Odyssey means that you've read ALL the books, and there isn't not even that this is the best of books. To be honest I like the imagination created by it, but it's real "drag" if you try reading it...

At the end, for me at least, what counts is the mood: I prefer Dune over "The Sabre Paradise", the same way that I prefer J.R.Talkien's Lord of the Rings over "All Quiets on Western Front", even if both are based on the developments of the Great World War (I).

If you have time (and mood) read'em all... But still, keep away from "Odyssey" (there are a lot of more fun versions of the same story)! :)

PS: My next books in line are the (new for me) "Hyperion" and "Three Body Problem" from Liu Cixin. And recommended detours? :)

JaumeGreenonMay 10, 2016

Sometimes things go well if the translators are good enough.

I read Neuromancer both in English and Catalan, in there there were programs called ICE (Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics, so a firewall) and the programs to break them were called icebreakers.

The catalan translator (Joan Fontcuberta i Gel) managed to translate ICE to GEL (I don't remember what the acronym mean, but it made sense). "Gel" is "ice" in Catalan, also is one of the translator's surnames. And so we could have "trencagels" as "icebreakers" (literal translation).

So, yes, most things are not easily translatable, so when they are they stand up and show us the craftmanship of the translators.

tekstaronJan 26, 2021

He shows up in a William Gibson novel, in the Neuromancer series.

SiValonJune 30, 2013

At the time this talk was given, I was reading Neuromancer as an ebook. I never read it on paper, only as a commercial ebook. It was implemented as a HyperCard stack on a 3.5" floppy published by Voyager. It was packaged in a glossy cardboard jacket quite similar in size to a cardboard CD package and printed with book cover art.

I no longer have any working 3.5" floppy drive nor a copy of HyperCard. I still have the ebook floppy in its original cover, but I can no longer read it.

mjulonJune 22, 2021

#2 - remember the hype around VRML and how we would have virtual words in the browser?

I remember working with Silicon Graphics gear back then and the 3D guys were quite enthusiastic about it. Of course, we had all devoured William Gibson’s novels like Neuromancer so we were naturally attracted.

We even built some 3D desktop apps as portals to the wider internet. They were too static and too hard to build so the Internet with HTML had much more pull for producers and consumers as well.

In practice, I think the 3D stuff that really worked at the time was more games like Quake and avatar-based web apps like Habbo Hotel.

It would still be fun to go back and read Jaron Lanier’s writing from that era.

veidronDec 30, 2014

An interesting brief history of what is, if I was forced to pick one, (still!) the best among the thousands of novels I've read.

The whole Sprawl trilogy is fantastic, and while I agree with other commenters here that Gibson's subsequent novels have become somewhat less awesome, it's hard to complain too much about that if you believe, as I do, that the author in question's first attempt resulted in the best novel of all time.

Still, Neuromancer is indisputably dated, as any such work would inevitably be, so I am glad to have originally read it in the 1980s.

emidlnonNov 9, 2017

Gibson's Neuromancer touches on this with the backstory for how Molly Millions paid for her cybernetic enhancements as a "meat puppet".

adjkantonAug 30, 2017

Sorry, not well said. Via Wikipedia:

"In his afterword to the 2000 re-issue of Neuromancer, fellow author Jack Womack goes as far as to suggest that Gibson's vision of cyberspace may have inspired the way in which the Internet developed (particularly the World Wide Web), after the publication of Neuromancer in 1984. He asks "[w]hat if the act of writing it down, in fact, brought it about?" (269)."

needle0onJuly 10, 2019

I felt the author was pretty careful in emphasizing that he's not declaring neither Mizumura nor Murakami is superior over the other, just that translatability can be a factor in how works spread.

BTW, all three works you mention has been translated into Japanese (including Finnegans Wake!) The translation for Neuromancer is also something to behold; Hisashi Kuroma, the translator, invented a literary "cyberpunk style" which can only be done with an Asian language. Words in Kanji are sprinkled with ruby text [1] which, instead of annotating the pronunciation of the word, fills in the romanized equivalent English neologism, eg. "接続" would be annotated not as "せつぞく" but as "ジャック・イン" (jack in).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruby_character

mindcrimeonAug 22, 2018

The Four Steps to the Epiphany by Steve Blank would probably top my list.

Some other books that I find deserving of the at least occasional re-read (if not yearly)

The Soul of a New Machine - Kidder

Hackers - Levy

False Memory - Dean Koontz

The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Nineteen Eighty-Four - Orwell

The Mysterious Island - Jules Verne

spapas82onJuly 13, 2018

I tried reading the 1st one of the series (Gardens of the Moon) not once but twice. Both times I was quickly bored and did not make it past page 50. The book (at least in its first pages) is filled with boring descriptions and uninteresting events.

I've heard good things about it (along with that it won't be an easy read as you say) however I don't want to torture myself reading boring stuff for like 1000 pages until something interesting happens.

There are much better books to read and too little time.

Actually, that's more or less a rule I try to follow: If the book can't hook me after some pages and I keep feeling bored and not interesting I just put it away. Other books that I have started but found way too boring to keep reading them:

(* please don't downvote me for this. I know that some of these books are considered classics and many of you won't like this but remember that this is just my personal opinion; I tend to get border easily *)

- The orphan master's son
- The man in the high castle
- Metro 2033
- Neuromancer
- Catch 22
- Digital Fortress (this wasn't so boring but I hated the smart-ass characters)

bsenftneronJuly 21, 2013

I second this. I was identified as "gifted" around 3rd grade, and from that point on, my teachers "guided me" (only allowed me access to) literature and texts they felt were "at my level". Third grade is way too young to be reading literature classics - they are all incredible tragedies, with the worse aspects of human behavior exhibited and analyzed to the extreme. By 5th grade I'd pretty much finished the entire classics section at our library, and I was as dark minded as an individual could get, with the vocabulary to support plus youthful piss and vinegar ready to debate anyone with optimism.

Thank god I discovered literary science fiction, and soon thereafter Phillip K Dick. I found reading "unhappy" literature was comforting, and U.K. post-punk bands like Joy Division also lent a sense of not being completely alone. Also reading Malcome X was hugely uplifting, as a white Iowa boy. And the cyper-punk authors were just starting then; I remember reading Neuromancer when it first came out and feeling completely at home in the reality painted by that novel.

About the only "good" thing that came out of my elementary school teachers only allowing me access to "gifted" activities was their taking me out of math class and leaving me alone with the school's first computer (this was the late 70's) for 2 hours every day.

snake_plisskenonMar 6, 2017

When Corporations Rule The World - David Korten

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Red Storm Rising - Tom Clancy

lhlonMar 23, 2015

Having re-read Snow Crash last year, I'd have to say that while the books have a bit of overlap (the deleterious effects of post-industrialization is something of a theme from the earliest cyberpunk, it's almost a defining characteristic), they differ quite a bit, both thematically and stylistically.

On style/tone, Snow Crash is a bit zanier, more satirical, and boisterous, while The Peripheral is by and large sharper, more grounded, and spare (typical Gibson).

In terms of story/plot (spoilers, obviously), while Snow Crash revolves primarily around a world-domination plot and a world-spanning chase to unravel that plot and the development of a seekrit cyber-weapon, The Peripheral focuses on a much more mundane, chance encounter that spirals out (unraveling much more like a whodunit, including the reveal) that takes place primarily in 2 "locations" (with the central conceit/twist described in the linked article about a historical/simulated world and the future-present) - so in other words, they're totally different, and I'm surprised you'd make any sort of plot connections from the article's description!

While it wasn't perfect (I also reread Neuromancer last year, so maybe The Peripheral suffers in comparison), it was a pretty fun read and had a bit to chew on so I'd certainly recommend it if you're an SF fan.

nikcubonMay 20, 2011

I'd prefer to keep the visualization of Snow Crash in my mind and not have it screwed up by some cheap and tacky production that will never match expectations.

Some books should just remain books, and both Snow Crash and Neuromancer are in that bucket. If Gibson wants to be a screenwriter, then he should write a story for the screen.

metaseanonAug 26, 2015

For those not in the know, this is from William Gibson's Neuromancer (http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/books/neuromancer.asp).

blumkvistonJan 26, 2014

Agreed. Mein Kampf, Atlas Shrugged, Fountainhead and Strike towards freedom deserve mentions too. Also the list shows a striking lack of science fiction. Neuromancer, Do androids dream of electric sheep, Lovecraft, Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy, Dune, Foundation series by Asimov, Jules Vern's works, Time machine by H.G. Wells are some very influential titles.

Shakespeare's work is missing also.

DigitalJackonDec 9, 2013

I pretty much agree with everything you wrote. I'm not a professional coder, but I program as a hobby.

I'm of the opinion that broad spectrum exposure to programming is a good thing, much like exposure to foreign languages in high school.

I don't expecting everyone to take to programming, or German, but without some exposure, you may never know this wonderful world exists. And without knowing, your latent talents might go to waste.

My sister and I had the same exposure to computers as children. I learned to program shortly thereafter, and she never did. I think the main difference there being that I am a self-learner, and she was an other-learner. Meaning she did better in a teacher/student environment and I did better figuring stuff out on my own, asking questions only when I was ready for the answer.

If a brief course in programming had been taught in school when we were growing up, she might have discovered a knack for it. Who knows. Maybe not. She's a doctor now, delving in that messiness that is people, so maybe programming wouldn't have been attractive to her.

I couldn't not program though. I read Neuromancer in 4th or 5th grade, and while I had been programming before then, that book sealed the deal for me.

podikionNov 10, 2017

Perhaps not as well known, but there are two other books in the same world as Neuromancer (The Sprawl Trilogy), with some relation between them (not much in one of the novels, a bit more in the other, but either way helps to have read Neuromancer): Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive

I highly recommend them both.

latchonApr 1, 2012

Non-developer specific good sci-fi books:


-Hyperion + The Fall of Hyperion

-The Book Of The New Sun

-Ilium + Olympos

-Takeshi Kovacs trilogy

-The Culture Series (meh..)

-The Demolished Man

More dev-oriented:

-Reamde (which I hated, but I seem to be in a minority)


I'll always have a special place in my heart for Calculating God (not science fiction), because its the book that got me into reading seriously.

johnchristopheronMay 29, 2012

> I've read Neuromancer multiple times, because I just love Gibson's style, high tech low life has never been done better.
Me too :)
> The multitude of ideas in each paragraph is simply stunning. There are thousand short sci-fi stories hiding behind each allusion.

Still... reading "virtual light" last summer I got confused by the embedded fax machine everywhere (even in the back of car seats if I remember correctly...) trashing out some papers for reading... How did he miss e-mails or "text on screen" for these scenes ?

apionJuly 10, 2014

I think that's a good literary caricature of a very real possibility of how a post-scarcity or even post-singularity economy might look. It would also be in the best interest of your ruling class to occasionally drop money from helicopters-- think potato salad guy but systemic, maybe guided by algorithms to stimulate increases in monetary velocity. Post-scarcity postmodern Keynesianism?

I could see Martian colonization and other difficult endeavors being undertaken by those who see this existence as empty and pointless and who actively desire a real challenge... possibly led and capitalized by factions of the ruling class who share this sentiment.

Wait... are we even talking about fiction here?!? :)

If on the other hand problems like fossil fuel depletion cause us to fail to reach anything like post-scarcity, I could see a scenario very much like William Gibson's Neuromancer. I think Gibson's "sprawl" 'verse is a world where the singularity failed to reach orbit so to speak. Going even more extreme I could see The Hunger Games -- tiny ultra-urban enclaves of super-rich surrounded by and served by feudal peasants. The Hunger Games (as opposed to Mad Max) is probably the most accurate picture of what a worst case scenario peak oil collapse would look like.

mindcrimeonDec 25, 2014

The Four Steps To The Epiphany - Steve Blank

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Predictable Revenue - Aaron Ross, Marylou Tyler

The Fountainhead - Ayn Rand

The Ultimate Question 2.0 - Fred Reichheld‎

The Singularity is Near - Ray Kurzweil

Moonshot! - John Sculley

Zero To One - Peter Thiel

Republic - Plato

Meditations - Marcus Aurelius

Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell

Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury

The Mysterious Island - Jules Verne

Discipline of Market Leaders - Michael Treacy, Fred Wiersema

False Memory - Dean Koontz

NOS4A2- Joe Hill

Revival - Stephen King

Barbarians At The Gate - John Helyar and Bryan Burrough

Into Thin Air - John Krakauer

How To Measure Anything - Douglas Hubbard

and any collection of the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

burnt_chromeonApr 20, 2015

Neuromancer by William Gibson, as directed by Chris Cunningham.


TV or film, really. The distinctions between the two have been greatly blurred these days, for better or for worse. Film, I suppose, is still considered a purer medium, though. Unfettered by commercial interruptions, and syndication or serialization concerns...

beatonJune 22, 2018

Much of the importance of Neuromancer at the time of publication wasn't that it was so technically correct or insightful, but rather that it connected science fiction to the cultural awareness of punk rock. That seems trite and obvious nowadays, but it was a revelation then. And although you sneer at the technology, his cultural insights were profound and remarkably predictive.

twerpy_donAug 21, 2018

I read Neuromancer every two years.

yesbabyyesonMar 6, 2017

Fundamentally changed are so big words but these were pretty cool:

- Douglas Hofstadter's GEB: An Eternal Golden Braid

- Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

- Ursula K. LeGuin's The Word for World is Forest

- Propaganda by Edward Bernays

- Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

- Empires: The Logic of World Domination from Ancient Rome to the United States by Herfried Münkler

- Smedley D. Butler's War is a Racket (more of an exposé)

- In Praise of Idleness by Bertrand Russell (ditto)

- Neuromancer by William Gibson

sireatonMay 28, 2012

I highly recommend re-reading Neuromancer with a copy of Study Guide:

I've read Neuromancer multiple times, because I just love Gibson's style, high tech low life has never been done better.

The multitude of ideas in each paragraph is simply stunning. There are thousand short sci-fi stories hiding behind each allusion.

That said, I have to agree, it is not very accessible to someone new to science fiction.

WorldMakeronAug 28, 2020

> US tech mega corporations are dominant rather than Japan

At the risk of going way out into tangents: Gibson's books had a fascinating mix of tech mega corporations, not just Japanese, but some of the big players were European in origin, and a share of US tech mega corporations.

Gibson absolutely has a kawaii bug about Japanese culture, though that's not his only over-fascination (arguably more of the Neuromancer trilogy is bound to voodoun fascination than Japanese culture fascination), but the important point at the time, and still a useful timeless quality to Gibson's books was how much Gibson got right about the increased weird of a global mega-culture. Much more so than most of his contemporaries, Gibson's cyberpunk much more accurately captured the feeling of the internet before the internet: one minute you might be watching K-Pop on TikTok and then some dude with a Voodoo-based handle sends you some weird files on Discord, before you hop over to Facebook for the latest Eurovision memes.

Gibson used the prominence of Japanese mega corporations not just because a lot 80s tech stock pundits (possibly wrongly; though Sony et al still have a large market presence) thought the Japanese would dominate the future, but as a part of a larger cross-cultural package that the future of "punk" wasn't just white-bread American but a stew waiting to be stirred of global culture. In that Gibson is an interesting comparison to pick when comparing timeless versus time-bound components of cyberpunk, as Gibson's Japanese focus I think was by far one of his most timeless additions to the genre.

0xdeadb00fonAug 30, 2019

Thanks for the reply. I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K. Dick and had almost the exact experience you describe with world building. I'll definitely give Neuromancer a read when I finish the three or so books I've started but not finished (it's not an issue of boredom - I'm just very busy at the moment).

SangermaineonJune 22, 2018

>Cyberpunk dates at least a decade before Neuromancer

No, it doesn't. Proto-cyberpunk ideas existed, certainly (and more than 10 years before Neuromancer; you can trace the roots back to 60s New Wave SF), but the word itself only predates the book by a year. Neuromancer was very much a crystallization of ideas that had been floating around the zeitgeist.

Or 3 years, depending on how you consider it. The word was coined by Bruce Bethke for his short story Cyberpunk, which was written in 1980 but not published until 1983. Gibson began writing Neuromancer in 1981, though it wasn't published until 1984.

eggyonSep 7, 2016

I like Stephenson, but I guess Snow Crash was late to the party for me, having already read Neuromancer and a bunch of other cyberpunk books as well as a lot of cyberpunk-themed movies before finding it.

I enjoyed Snow Crash, but I am more a fan of Cryptonomicon and Anathem. I stumbled upon Cryptonomicon in the bookstore, because of the intriguing title. That and the Perl script for Solitaire in the back of the book.

I wish Cryptonomicon had been made into a movie pre-Bitcoin and Snowden; I hope they still make a movie of it.

galeforcewindsonJuly 13, 2018

William Gibson's Neuromancer continues to hold up well both for adults and teens. Worth a read or re-read.

Travel books can be a good fit for the summer, and Keri Smith's Wander Society is a fun pick.

I also like to make a random pick or two that I'd never normally choose for myself. My next random pick may be off this thread...


mattmanseronDec 17, 2014

I mention other cyberpunk that's not dated, I've read 2 or 3 of the Neuromancer series and that hasn't fared anywhere near as badly, the only glaring plot point I noticed in that is that no-one had mobile phones.

And when I refer to Foundation & Ringworld I meant that they are from the 60s and so have some weird cultural ideals as well as some (unintentional) misogyny & racism in the foundation series.

mindcrimeonOct 3, 2015

I'm sure there are many, but a few that jump to mind, in no particular order, and spanning both fiction and non-fiction:

The Selfish Gene - Dawkins

A New Kind of Science - Wolfram

The Singularity is Near - Kurzweil

Gödel, Escher, Bach - Hofstadter

Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies - Hofstadter

Atlas Shrugged - Rand

The Fountainhead - Rand

Nineteen Eighty-Four - Orwell

The Trouble With Physics - Lee Smolin

Time Reborn - Lee Smolin

Ambient Findability - Peter Morville

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software - Steven Johnson

Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age - Duncan Watts

Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life - Albert-laszlo Barabasi

Artificial Life - Steven Levy

The Four Steps To The Epiphany - Steve Blank

The World is Flat - Thomas Friedman

not a book, but the various writings of Douglas Engelbart - http://www.dougengelbart.org/library/library.html

Glasshouse - Charles Stross

Permutation City - Greg Egan

Neuromancer - William Gibson

The Shockwave Rider - John Brunner

The Society of Mind - Marvin Minsky

The Origin of Wealth: The Radical Remaking of Economics and What it Means for Business and Society - Eric Beinhocker

The Black Swan - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Fooled By Randomness - Nassim Nicholas Taleb

RebelgeckoonApr 11, 2021

Neuromancer is probably the typical example but I personally didn't love it.

I'd recommend Altered Carbon and it's sequels. There's also a Netflix adaption with a solid first season (although s2 went a bit off the rails)

A personal favorite of mine is Snow Crash. It's a very self aware cyberpunk novel (could maybe even be considered a parody, at least in part). If you're not familiar with Stephenson's writing style, be aware that you won't miss too much if you skip the 10 page infodump on Sumerian grammar that pops up in the muddle of the book.

atsalolionFeb 19, 2017

William Gibson came to a local bookstore when I was a teenager. The staff had the public going through a line, issuing a Post-It, a pen and instructions to write the name of the person to whom to make out the book. Efficient and organized, right?

So I wrote "Mother" on my Post-It note. I was curious how the author would react.

I get to the front of the line with my dog-eared copy of "Neuromancer". Mr. Gibson takes my book, reads the Post-It, looks at me briefly, gives a tiny smile and starts writing. Hands me the book. I say "Thank you very much" and get out of the way.

I open the book: "To Mother: Come home. All is forgiven. William Gibson. Summer 1992"

That book was a treasured possession for years. =)

drtse4onSep 2, 2014

_dt47, if you like it read everything else from Hesse (continue with Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund, The Glass Bead Game).

Right now, as late night reading, i'm in the midst of the sprawl trilogy of Gibson, i read Neuromancer more than a few years ago and now i'm checking out the rest.

Other than this, i started "Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies", but i'm quickly getting bored.

vparikhonJan 4, 2016

Neuromancer by William Gibson

tlarkworthyonFeb 22, 2013

Neuromancer had the worst sex scene I have ever read.

dopuonFeb 19, 2017

I found Gibson's writing style to be a bit difficult to get into when I first started reading his work. I started with Neuromancer and I'm currently reading The Peripheral.

At first I was a bit mad -- it seemed to me that he left out a lot of detail regarding the scene and the characters -- he just seemed to give the reader a few hints, and left them to construct the rest of the scene on their own. Dialogue often unfolds without explicit reference to who's speaking, leaving you to infer it based on speaking style and content. He'd also provide you with a couple sentences about a city or a structure and then move right on along with the action, movement, and interaction characters have with the environment.

Since I then have to rely so much on my own mental construction of the characters and the story, I end up surprising myself later on in the novels with how vividly I picture things as I'm reading, and the level of detail I can see. It's as if the reader takes as much of a part in constructing the story as Gibson does.

harshrealityonFeb 9, 2014

I agree, and you made elsewhere the good point that Dune has one foot in the fantasy realm, without much hard science fiction backing it up.

The Hyperion cantos (Simmons) is sadly not taken seriously by very many authors of top-100 lists. It's usually Dune or Stranger in a Strange Land or Ender's Game or Forever War. And heaven forbid they include Neuromancer or Snow Crash or Altered Carbon, or an eco-scifi book like Stand on Zanzibar or Zodiac.

Dune could be a nod to the classic science fiction aficionados who don't care for any of the newer stuff, who love Asimov, Niven, Clarke, PKD, Bester. Is Heinlein too politically charged, perhaps?

nicholassmithonMay 28, 2012

I don't know if I agree with the confusing aspect, I think if you read them for what they are and don't try to overanalyse or question the direction it works a lot better. It's a bit choppy, and definitely contrived in places but it was also his first real work, Neuromancer alone is massively important for science fiction as it kick started an entire shift towards cyberpunk for a good decade or so.

I read it when I was about 12ish, so nearly 15 years ago. Reading it at that point in my life, in that point of human history as computing was starting to become an incredibly large part of daily life made it a lot more interesting, but society and science and fiction have come a long way since this, so it feels quite anachronistic in it's own way.

angry_octetonSep 8, 2019

The writing in the English translation of The Three Body Problem is stilted and dull. Maybe it's better in Chinese? Some languages must be more expensive than others to translate well. Gave up half way through the first book; when I eventually read the synopsis on Wikipedia it sounded exciting.

I'll have to read Neuromancer again. At the time I read it I was skeptical that hacking decks and exploits would ever exist, but that was before JavaScript, internet connected critical systems, rop gadgets and nation state 0day exploit chains. The need to do scene setting for these concepts perhaps weighs on the story.

DanBConNov 4, 2012

They deface sites because that's the aim of the "game" they play - how many sites can that group deface vs this other group?

Tagging - an ugly pointless form of graffiti is popular for similar reasons. It's easy to do, and more tags == more credit among a small group of peers.

It's a good thing that people want to deface websites rather than hunker down and learn the long game. We'd be in real trouble if all the people doing minor stuff turned to major cyber[1] crime.

[1] "cyber" feels so old to me. Neuromancer was written in 1984.

baneonDec 31, 2014

I think there's a huge opening for a talented new author to revisit cyberpunk as seen through the lens of what's actually happened since Neuromancer was published, then project that new understanding forward into the next near future. So much of what the early genre saw has come true in a way (or feels like it's about to), I think it might be useful to clean out what it didn't get right, or revisit how things have changed (the rise of China, advances in computing, etc.) and set those wheels in motion.

I think of cyberpunk, and an awareness of what it talks about as more of a tool for understanding the changing world, in a similar way that 1984 helps provide mental tools for understanding the world.

jdkeeonDec 9, 2019

This reads like someone who did not read Neuromancer when it was released in 1984, so they fail to understand how groundbreaking it was for the time. And someone who doesn't know it was the first novel to win all three major awards of the science fiction genre. And how influential the novel (and the Sprawl trilogy) were to a broader cultural movement.

kabdibonDec 9, 2019

A recently penned introduction to Neuromancer (by Gibson, I think, though it might be by Neil Gaiman) points this out, as well as Gibson's failure to predict cell phones (which he is chagrined by).

Just the other day I was reading some early Neal Stephenson, and it made reference to 32-bit personal computers as being on the cutting edge. I guess you could read it as a period piece. Similarly, a novel about a computer that was written in the 1950s describes a machine a city block on a side, cooled by Niagra falls, with 1000 bits of storage, that somehow still forms the pillar of a surveillance society.

Novel writers are not the best predictors of technology, it would appear. That's okay.

beatonDec 12, 2018

Really? I found Neuromancer to be incredibly exciting when I read it, almost breathlessly so. The first time I read it (back in the 80s), I read through the Sense/Net run to retrieve the Dixie Flatline cartridge in a single sitting, and my adrenaline was pumping.

I re-read it last year, and it still works for me.

skmurphyonJune 22, 2018

I agree that there were a number of earlier novels and stories that were cyberpunk in their sensibilities: John Brunner's "Shockwave Rider" and "Stand on Zanzibar", Vinge's "True Names", Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" are some of the most obvious. I think Neuromancer helped establish cyberpunk because of it's popularity and it's vivid conceptualization of "cyberspace" as a separate parallel realm, similar to the Celtic Otherworlds, that is visited in more of a lucid dream state--to pass the final barrier Case has to flatline and cross over into what is essentially a land of the dead.

I think Shockwave Rider captured the sense of accelerating change and what Toffler called "future shock" (modeled on "culture shock" it's the discomfort from finding yourself embedded in the foreign culture of the future). Vinge anticipated privacy issues (and may other important considerations in his other works like "Rainbows End") and Dick is exploring the nature of what it means to be human.

Gibson's Neuromancer shows a world where extensive body modifications are commonplace, but it does not seem to affect anyone's self-image or concerns about identity. So at some level "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" is more philosophically and psychologically profound.

meekmockmookonDec 26, 2020

The cognitive dissonance and total denial is off the charts with telecom and tech leaders who don't realize (or care) that their massive growth has played a large role in global civil unrest. The general public is terrified and angry at the rapidly shifting technological landscape and the changes in social norms that come with it. Trust in technology is at a low, and for good reason.

We have titanic businesses with almost superhuman like abilities to get under our skin at an algorithmic level. Tech companies can literally, for all intents and purposes, make people disappear from the internet. A small group of companies can casually destroy your life with a small code change and you wouldn't even know it. Everyone's data is being sold, stolen, sold on the black market, and intercepted by governments both local and foreign. An internet outage now means that your thermostat or fridge could go out and you're going to spend the night cold.

I mean, there's a reason that Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most hyped games of the last 5 years. The anxiety resonates. Sometimes I wonder if there are people in tech/cable who grew up reading Neuromancer or Snow Crash and thought "Cool! Let's make it happen!"

wavesoundsonSep 9, 2013

If you like this kind of Science Fiction check out Neuromancer by William Gibson

But seriously saying Technology is Heroin is like saying Obama is Hitler.

Heroin is a serious fucking drug that will destroy your life. If your a heroin addict you can't just stop doing heroin and go back packing in the forest for a week.

Yet people take breaks from technology and the internet all the time and are perfectly fine. Theres plenty of technology to be afraid of; dying in a car accident, sitting in a chair too much, but Instagraming every meal you eat is not one of them, thats just a little weird.

jtbigwooonJune 6, 2013

Neuromancer by William Gibson

cjsleponNov 13, 2014

The app looks nice! Here's anecdotal feedback for my download and account creation experience. I haven't tried reading a book yet and using the annotation feature.

One thing immediately apparent when creating the account is the lack of "search" functionality when asked to select books I already like. Maybe I didn't find it? I tried the "Apple idiom" of pull down to search. The book selection was iffy so I skipped it -- it looks like 10 'recently published' titles instead of stood-the-test-of-time type novels (eg: no Dune, Ender's Game, Neuromancer, Foundation Series for Sci-Fi). Also the "skip" in the top right corner on that page is so super light grey on a white background that I almost didn't see it -- if I am using this app to read the last thing I want to encounter is anything remotely tough to read on my eyes. Especially when goading me into signing up.

Also, when clicking "create account" there wasn't any feedback it was happening (spinners, greying out of the button, etc). My phone is an older generation (4S) with a lifeproof screen protector so it will occasionally hiccup and not register my touches. I kept thumbing thinking it was hiccupping, not realizing it would later create many "Error: Username already taken" dialogs I had to thumb through.

A question I do have is how spoilers are dealt with in annotations. I haven't tried reading a book and using that particular feature yet, but it would be a concern of mine.

I look forward to playing around with it more!

hellotobyonMar 10, 2010

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Anything by Haruki Murakami

dedwardonApr 5, 2011

Read those other two - they're as good, if not a little bit better. Nothing stunningly different.

As a long-time neuromancer and Gibson fan, I can say his writing has changed and approached the modern day just as it should. Neuromancer made sense at the time it was published - the net wasn't around, it was a far out concept - lots of room for imagination. If it were only released today, it would just seem like really bad sci-fi because the net exists, now, and it's not quite what Gibson wrote about.

I'd the pattern recognition/spook/zero set are not so much current day as very near-future. They're entirely plausible with current technology, with a few inventions along the way that don't currently exist, but probably could.
PLus they're a good read.

valdiornonOct 1, 2012

Neuromancer by William Gibson.

duggieawesomeonSep 13, 2012

Neuromancer by William Gibson.

tachyonbeamonAug 9, 2014

I don't read very much paper books, for some reason I always found it uncomfortable, straining on the eyes and tiring. I recently got into audiobooks. Listened to Neuromancer, the first three of the Dune series, The Positronic Man, the first Foundation book, Burning Chrome, and the Steve Jobs Biography. Just started listening to The Last Theorem today.

Audiobooks are amazingly convenient and you can definitely find time to fit them into your life. You can listen to them while walking around, on the bus or subway, while grocery shopping, while cooking, and even in the bathroom.

I also think that audiobooks might be a good way to practice your focus, in the way that mindfulness meditation teaches you to do. You try and pay attention to the audiobook as best as you can, and if you're prone to anxiety and rumination, this will at the very least help provide a useful distraction and quiet down inner chatter.

Thumbs up for audiobooks, helping me get more culture into my life.

latchonMay 28, 2012

I just started reading the Sprawl trilogy, my first Gibson novels. I find them contrived and confusing. I've talked to others about this, and so far no one has disagreed. Also, I've tried to see a reason for it to be like this, and I can't...confusing for the sake of being confusing.

They are still good books (I finished Neuromancer a few days ago) and I'd recommended them to people who are already into science fiction. Having said that, I hope you'll understand when I say that I also consider them the worst that science fiction has to offer. They aren't only inaccessible but actually off putting to anyone but a dedicated reader.

I'm not a fan of it, but Ender's Game is the exact opposite. Not great science fiction, but very accessible. Whatever your thoughts on SciFi, you'll fall in love with Ender and take a very deep interest in his story.

duskwuffonDec 24, 2016

"The sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel."

-- Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere. (In an intentional homage to Neuromancer.)

On another tangent: Gibson wrote, in an afterword in an early-1990s digital edition of Neuromancer, that he had never owned, nor even used, a computer until some years after he wrote the book. He noted that:

> Neuromancer and its two sequels are not about computers. They may pretend, at times, and often rather badly, to be about computers, but really they're about technology in some broader sense. Personally, I suspect they're actually about Industrial Culture; about what we do with machines, what machines do with us, and how wholly unconscious (and usually unlegislated) this process has been, is, and will be. Had I actually known a great deal (by 1981 standards) about real computing, I doubt very much I would (or could) have written Neuromancer.

the_afonApr 14, 2020

I'm specifically arguing about Gibson, Neuromancer and his related works, not about the cyberpunk genre at large. Gibson self-identifies -- or did, anyway -- as a punk writer. Cyberspace is not really a pocket of hope in his stories. The ending of Neuromancer itself is ambiguous and not exactly optimistic. Many of his short stories are similarly dark and depressing, things seldom ending well for his characters.

I'm not speaking of cyberpunk in general. Note that Gibson himself has stated the modern "cyberpunk" genre largely misses the point, mistaking a novel counter-cultural idea for its visual trappings.

iuguyonDec 14, 2010

I would agree. Some of the books I'd highly recommend for anyone looking to be a well-rounded hacker:

* TCP/IP Illiustrated (Volumes 1,2 & 3) - W. Richard Stephens

* The Web Application Hacker's Handbook - Stuttard, Pinto et al

* The Shellcoder's Handbook - Kozoil, Aitel et al

* The Cuckoo's Egg - Clifford Stoll

* Neuromancer - William Gibson

* ARM System-on-chip Architecture - Stephen B. Furber

* Operating Systems Design & Implementation - Tanenbaum

* The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System - McKusick, Neville-Neil

These are just a few, and I'm sure there's plenty of others, even better ones. But to truly round yourself out you need to know more than programming a few languages - you need to know the low-level end of things and the high-level view of the world.

currymjonAug 28, 2020

sure, that's a fair point. Neuromancer trilogy has European family offices, it has an American media/tech company Sense/Net, Zeiss and Braun are mentioned.

but the books really do feel like Japan is the dominant economic power, in a way that seems very stuck in the 1980s (the Nikkei still has never recovered to its peak in 1991). the way this gets translated is always rainy city streets with neon signs in kanji, and synthesizers. a lot of work that is heavily derivative of Neuromancer just copies these choices blindly rather than trying to convey the same spirit as it tells the story. i liked Void Star because it did the opposite.

another thing underappreciated about Gibson is that much of his world is not particularly futuristic. there's implied to be plenty of buildings left around from the 21st century. the bars, hotels, motels, and restaurants are mostly described as being like normal restaurants today. stuff like Cyberpunk 2077 seems to miss this.

redthrowawayonNov 12, 2013

Only tangentially related if that, but I re-read Neuromancer recently and realized with some sadness that its very evocative opening line [1] will quite quickly cease to have meaning for generations who grew up without analog TVs. We tend to think of literature as timeless, but there's a very real, if small, slice of it washed out by the tide of shifting metaphors.

[1] "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel"

ApocryphononFeb 11, 2017

Cool taxonomy, but are there really only four types? Let's try with some examples.

Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut - imagines a future where mechanical automation and IQ-optimized hiring leads to mass unemployment, but extensive welfare systems keeps the mediocre masses well-fed, just demoralized and without dignity. Combination of Huxleyan with Kafkaesque?

The Handmaid's Tale - Orwellian with a pronounced patriarchal-religious emphasis

Anthem by Ayn Rand - generic Orwellian with a primitivist/preindustrial Luddite version of Phildickian.

(Actually, we run into a convergence there. Isn't Orwellian thought control simply the overt forcible version of Phildickian thought control, the latter is more indirect, subtle, and possibly not even enforced by the state but private actors and individuals? Both involve rewriting your mind to reject liberty.)

Fahrenheit 451 - similar Phildickian rewriting of reality through both Orwellian (the firemen, the unspecified war in the background) and Huxleyan (parlor walls, overload of useless factoids) means.

Atlas Shrugged - world/U.S. in the beginning is not totalitarian, but a generic degenerate socialist bureaucratic state in decline. Whether or not Galt's Gulch is totalitarian, and what type it is, can be left as an exercise to the reader.

Neuromancer, Snow Crash, other classic cyberpunk works- not totalitarian, but heavy on the Huxleyan decadent consumerist society coupled with Phildickian distortion of reality themes.

Brazil by Terry Gilliam - perfectly Kafkaesque.

Would appreciate classification of some other classic dystopian totalitarian works, such as We by Zamyatin or even Animal Farm. Do any of them express totalitarianism in a way that breaks the four-type classification system?

waterlesscloudonNov 14, 2011

The Road To Reality - Roger Penrose. Slowly, step by step.

Neuromancer - William Gibson. 6th or 7th time through. Coming to it now after having read Delany's Nova, and the influence is clear.

Little Heroes - Norman Spinrad. All that's good about Spinrad and all that's bad. He does write well about Hollywood.

History Of Film- David Parkinson. A short survey text, sort of a review for me.

walrus01onDec 10, 2020

One could also say that all of Gibson and Sterling's early novels were warnings, describing in some detail near future cyberpunk dystopias.

When reading Neuromancer and Count Zero, the cumulative sum of the evocative description of "the sprawl" and the post war environment led me to form a fairly bleak mental picture of the place. And floating above all that an ultra elite class of the 1% of the 1% (sensenet stars, the tessier-ashpools, etc).

Islands in the Net also paints a picture of radically even more unequal wealth distribution, coupled with massive economic disruptions and civil wars in developing nations.

BlameKanedaonDec 13, 2019

- I've been participating in https://www.reddit.com/r/ayearofwarandpeace since January 2nd of this year. I've stuck with it and we're very close to the end of the book. It's true that the book's long, but nearly every chapter can be read in 15 minutes or less, which is how we've been able to stretch it out.

Books that I've started but haven't finished (primarily due to W&P):

- Dune (Frank Herbert)

- Men At Arms - Discworld (Pratchett)

- The Diamond Age (Stephenson)

- Neuromancer (Gibson)

- The Shadow Rising - Wheel of Time (Jordan)

- Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas)

Books that I plan on reading in 2020:

- Little Women (Alcott)

- Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet (Evans)

- A Walk in the Woods (Bryson)

ApocryphononAug 29, 2019

Neuromancer is a seminal work of cyberpunk, but I'd say that it codified (or maybe just typifies) a lot of the tropes and themes of the genre that were to follow. I would actually go with Stand on Zanzibar as the one that truly predicts the social and political changes of technology and globalization that cyberpunk was to embody, though it's often more difficult to follow and darker than Neuromancer.

eggyonJuly 17, 2019

I remember demoing a game back in the 90s where you placed a headband on and controlled a stone on screen to cause it to rise and then maintaining its altitude. I’m sure it was very simple, however the germ was planted about mind/machine interfaces in me a while ago. I had read Neuromancer previously and this seemed the zeitgeist along with the 90s being the ‘Decade of the Brain’. I had read Patricia Churchland’s book The Computational Brain, and the take off of neural networks and wet interfaces was all the buzz.

YeGoblynQueenneonFeb 26, 2016

Yay, good reference, I remember the story so well I knew the one you meant before I followed the link (I didn't remember the title).

However there have been similar ideas in earlier works, as acknowledged by the author himself. And if you asked the authors of those earlier works I'm sure they'd say they first thought of it when reading someone else's work - it's how it goes.

For what it's worth, the idea is similar to the deadliest joke sketch from the Monty Pythons, that predates most (but not all) the authors cited by Langford as influences:

Langford's later short story comp.basilisk FAQ, [1] first published in Nature in December 1999, mentions William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984), Fred Hoyle's The Black Cloud (1957), J.B. Priestley's The Shapes of Sleep (1962), and Piers Anthony's Macroscope (1969) as containing a similar idea. Examples not mentioned include the short story White Cane 7.25 (1985) by Czech writer Ondřej Neff, A. E. van Vogt's War Against the Rull (1959), and John Barnes' Kaleidoscope Century (1996).

From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BLIT_%28short_story%29

TipVFLonNov 4, 2018

This reminds of an eBook of Neuromancer that I read, it was occasionally missing the letter f.
For the most part I just added it back mentally without really thinking about it, but then sometimes I hit a passage like this:
"He turned, pulled his jacket on, and licked the cobra to full extension."
That one took a moment.

andyjohnson0onMar 1, 2013

I remember at the time reading usenet postings about the worm as it spread, and I got the impression that for a couple of days many people really didn't know what was happening. The response was very improvised. I was an intern at IBM in 88-90, and all gateways between IBM's internal network (VNET at the time) and the internet were cut without warning - even though I doubt that IBM had many VAXes or Sun3s.

I'd also read Neuromancer the previous summer and me as a twenty-year-old thought this was all rather exciting...

brudgersonJuly 22, 2016

As a reader of books, one of the good things about growing older is that the books the younger version of myself read are books that this older version of myself hasn't and there is great pleasure in rereading the books the younger version of myself read as the older person I am.

And that makes this exercise impossible for me. The books I would tell the younger version of myself to read wouldn't resonate the same way (or not at all) with that other person I used to be. Picking books that might have appealed to the younger version of myself accurately would mean picking the books I actually read -- e.g. The Fifth Discipline -- and not books that the younger version of myself tried to read but couldn't but that I read and recommend today: e.g. TAoCP.

Part of the complexity is that the world in which I read books today is radically different from that of my younger self. Today I can get a MIX interpreter from the internet [1]...there's even help on StackOverflow. My younger self couldn't because even in the time when there was an internet bandwidth was low and Google didn't exist.

Like I said it's great to pick up a good book and realize it is better than I remember when I remember it being really good, but it's hard to see how it could have been better for my younger self.

1. Neuromancer

2. Blood Meridian

3. A Pattern Language


coldteaonMar 25, 2017

>In 2005 few people thought mobile phones would change much at all.

In the immediate future (e.g. in 2007 when the iPhone appeared) no. But everybody though mobile phones will ultimately be little computers -- even MS had Windows OS version (a crappy one) for smartphones.

>* In the 1950's the President of IBM supposedly said there was a market for maybe 5 computers in the world.*

And he was right. Though he never really said it, it was more of a misattribution of a quote by another, "Originally one thought that if there were a half dozen large computers in this country, hidden away in research laboratories, this would take care of all requirements we had throughout the country."

Which, if you think of it, is how Cloud computing works. Sure, there are not 5 computers -- but a huge part of the internet traffic is from 5 services and their data centers (Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, etc).

>In 1990 no one thought there would be a global network for anyone and everyone that would change the world a few years later.

People expected and talked of such a thing since the 50s and communication satellites.

Heck, it was the main theme in books like Neuromancer and the whole cyberpunk movement.

overcastonDec 12, 2016

My first experience with Stephenson was Snow Crash, and it was an abomination. I tried Cryptonomicon next, and while slightly more coherent, it was the end of the line for me and this guy. Stephenson likes to write like he's smarter than he really is, plots that are literally everywhere, and characters I really don't care about. Let's not forget the third person present tense writing style.

Regarding Gibson, I only read Neuromancer, and enjoyed the writing. Obviously the concepts were ahead of its time, so reading it much later didn't have the same impact. But neat story.

ndesaulniersonApr 9, 2015

I have this weird habit where if I sit and read too much about the same topic, I have trouble retaining all of the information I just read. So, I find I can retain everything better if I read small amounts from multiple books. I sit with a stack of a few books and read chapter out of each. Weird, I know. Here's my current stack:

* The C++ Programming Language, 4th Edition (Bjarne Stroustrup)

* Effective Modern C++: 42 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of C++11 and C++14 (Scott Meyers)

* Interactive Computer Graphics: A Top-Down Approach with WebGL (7th Edition) (Edward Angel & Dave Schreiner)

* Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture (David Kushner)

* Neuromancer (William Gibson)

I most recently finished:

* Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn't Want You to Know---and What to Do About Them (Cynthia Shapiro)

* C++ for dinosaurs (Nick Economidis)

I am highly anticipating the final(?) book of the Ender's Game Series by Orson Scott Card titled Shadows Alive.

I just learned about and probably will buy:

* The Denial of Death (Ernest Becker)

keiferskionDec 22, 2020

I don’t really follow the gaming press and couldn’t tell you what generation of PlayStation / X-Box / etc. we’re on, so I’m unfamiliar with how previous buggy games were received.

My experience is that it’s a fun game with some minor problems. If you like cyberpunk books or media, you’ll love it. The writing team put a lot of effort into crafting a backstory of the world.

Overall it reminds me of the original Neuromancer novel; moments of sheer brilliance mixed with moments of tacky, embarrassingly bad writing. That specific quality is part of the genre’s history, to me, and I think a lot of the criticism toward 2077 is from people who haven’t read much of the previous books.

AJ007onMar 19, 2019

Science fiction seems to resonate strongest when it introduces new ideas which are reachable. Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash seems to be particularly influencial. Sticking some plot line in the future isn’t enough.

I miss those moments I had when I was younger, reading Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and the Diamond Age for the very first time. Certainly they all played a driving role in orienting me toward what I ended up spending my life doing. The stories and the characters mattered, but the technology drowned it out.

lmmonDec 8, 2015

"Seems pretty clear"? Maybe you should give some examples of what you're talking about? The Hugos reflect some kind of merit (plot, worldbuilding, plausibility) but it's in areas that the literary establishment places very little value on, and winners IME often have less of the literary virtues - less characterization, much less exploration of characters' mental states, often even less polished prose - than other works of (nominal) SF, simply because there isn't time for both.

Foundation's Edge is possibly the least literary book I've ever read; I don't think Asimov wrote a deeply-characterized human in his life. The same applies to most Heinlein, a lot of Dick, A Canticle for Leibowitz, and IME most Clarke (though it seems I haven't read either of his Hugo-winning works); it's true of David Brin and Kim Stanley Robinson and Vernor Vinge. I've heard Neuromancer described as an "obvious first novel", and while there's something distinct about the Ender series, I certainly wouldn't call it literary.

pjc50onJune 15, 2018

> dramatic shift from the classical view of the future

This was always the colonial view of the future, perhaps adapted up to the Eisenhower era. Like everything else, science fiction writing has adapted to post-colonialism. The watershed was probably somewhere around the 60s-70s:

> Technology has not solved hunger, poverty, sickness, or human suffering, in fact in many cases it has made them worse. The environment has been fucked by centuries of industrial abuse, the cities are a mess, drugs and crime are rampant, the streets are dirty, even the rain is dirty.

i.e., the present western milieu from about the 1970s: acid rain, nuclear rain, superfund sites, New York as "no go area". Many of which have actually improved since then but survive as tropes.

Remember that the "cyber-" prefix relates also to control systems, both in the sense of industrial control like PID loops and by analogy social control systems through feedback. Look for the control systems. Neuromancer (1982) provides lots of great examples of this; almost every character including the AIs are labouring under external control which they are trying to shake off.

angersockonAug 22, 2015

Wow, not well done.

Author glosses over Watchmen, Stranger in a Strange Land, Neuromancer, The Stand, Snowcrash, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Left Hand of Darkness, and several others that actually had some very interesting things to say on gender roles and treatment of minorities.

Author also ignores entirely the actual depiction of homosexuality and gender roles in The Forever War, and the various ways the protagonist treats (and is treated by!) them.

Author was clearly looking to be offended, and in their zeal ignored both things that countered their position (not surprising) and things that would've substantiated it!

Lucifer's Hammer, for example, can be read to literally depict African Americans and urban youths as savage cannibals. It's a good story otherwise, but there is certainly some facepalming in there.

pasbesoinonAug 21, 2011

The "sci fi" distributions channels that you're describing were taken over by the "horror/moneymaking" people. I wouldn't even call most of that science fiction.

For more recent works, you might like:

  Vernor Vinge
"Rainbow's End" -- more near term and what you describe
"A Fire Upon the Deep" & "A Deepness in the Sky"

David Brin
"Earth" -- again, more near term, although with a fantastic ending
The Uplift Trilogy (a bit more fantastic, but very well done, particularly the 2nd and 3rd novels)

There are many "classic" authors and novels. One novel that receives somewhat less attention/accolades, but which I think speaks to some of what you ask, is:

  Arthur C. Clarke
"The City and the Stars"

Neal Stephenson' The Diamond Age might also resonate. And while both more "near term" and historical, his Cryptonomicon has some very worthy reflections and speculations.

And I guess I really can't pass up suggesting Carl Sagan's Contact. Superb.

As for films, I'm not the most versed, but the following, more "real" science fiction films come to mind:

Blade Runner (yeah, yeah, but I just re-watched it)
And I'll mention that Star Trek (particularly, for me, The Next Generation), is now on or coming to Netflix

P.S. And of course, William Gibson's Neuromancer and, was it the next one or the next two novels? His short story collection, "Burning Chrome", fits well into these two or three.

And as for a certain pragmatic perspective on human psychology, behavior, and possible near term societal/political developments, the classic Heinlein ouvre, while perhaps sexist or interpretable as such, and also in other ways somewhat "archaic", is nonetheless insightful.

Probably not what you're looking for, but now that I've rambled on, there it is.

P.P.S. I found Asimov's original "Robot" trilogy a very insightful allegory for the competing demands of public knowledge and privacy in the modern world. Set aside the robotic aspect, per se, and look at how the different societies lead there lives and social conduct.

pemulisonMay 29, 2012

Ah, good point, I forgot about that. As a general rule, though, Card's novels aren't very quotable, and when they are, the quote is closely tied to the plot. If you didn't know how it related to Ender's development as a tactician and thinker, "The enemy's gate is down" wouldn't be a very impressive line. Meanwhile, Gibson throws off eye-popping lines every other page. Compare these two examples:

"Knocking him down won the first fight. I wanted to win all the next ones, too." - Ender's Game

If you don't know what Ender is referring to, this quote loses almost all of its power. If you've read the story, though, this line is killer.

"The Sprawl was a long strange way home over the Pacific now, and he was no console man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he'd cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, his hands clawed into the bedslab, temperfoam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn't there." - Neuromancer

You don't need to have read the novel to appreciate the quote. Beyond the novelty and aesthetic beauty of the writing, it's very information-dense: You can get an excellent sense of the novel's setting, themes, conflict, and main character just from these three sentences.

m0nasticonMay 28, 2012

I don't know if it's of any help, but I offer my own experience:

I read Neuromancer as a teenager, and it had a profoundly transformative effect on my life (probably more than any other book). It first introduced me to the idea that a person like a hacker existed. That it was a viable thing to become. I may have discovered this at a later time on my own, but I'll never know.

I was so enraptured by the ideas contained in it, that I was able to look past what was mechanically, a style of writing that I really didn't like (the prose felt very disjointed).

When I moved on to Count Zero, I found that the story wasn't sufficiently enthralling to make up for the issues I had with the style, so I could never get through it.

About ten years later, somehow or another I came to find myself in possession of Gibson's Pattern Recognition (I don't remember if I bought it because of a good review, or just wanted to give him another shot).

For whatever reason, I found that I didn't have any of the issues with his style getting in the way for me. I don't know if his writing actually changed (a possibility, as it was his 7th novel), of if I was just a different person by that point, and now more able to appreciate the way he writes.

I ended up liking Pattern Recognition immensely (and both of the other novels in that trilogy), even though people have made valid complaints about the actual plot of the novels.

I then went back and re-read the rest of the Sprawl trilogy, and found it easier to digest this time.

So you might also find that his later work is less confusing.

I don't really have an opinion as to how it relates to SciFi as a whole, as I really don't like SciFi as a genre in and of itself (as a contrast, I actually hated Enders Game when I read it as a kid).

Patrick_DevineonOct 24, 2013

I remember feeling incredibly bad assed as a young teenager prying the old 8088 chip out and slotting in this new processor which came in the strange plastic tube which I bought at some random hole-in-the-wall PC shop in Vancouver. I think I had just read Neuromancer for the first time at that point. It was a definite Future Shock moment for me.

navbakeronApr 9, 2015

Neuromancer by William Gibson.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.
Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C Clarke.
A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, both by Vernor Vinge.

Also, the Culture series by Iain M. Banks, but I would recommend not starting with the first published book, Consider Phlebas. YMMV, but I personally found it hard to get in to and almost didn't continue the series. Later I read lots of reviews of the second book, The Player of Games, and decided to give it a chance and have since read most of the remaining books. I have now gone back and re-read Consider Phlebas and love it now that I have a better handle on the setting, universe, and concepts from the series, but I definitely feel that The Player of Games is a much better intro into the series.

AJ007onSep 22, 2014

Stroll through a few blocks of midtown Manhattan and you'll end up on hundreds of security cameras and in the backgrounds of a handful of tourists photos. Add a few more years and your image and gait will be continuously recorded by a swarm of 3D camera phones, self driving vehicles, and police drones. Authentication of a crime may require not one but a diverse set of recordings from multiple entities. Validating that the person you are talking to on Skype is indeed your mom may require a cryptographic key exchange (and a damn good reason it won't be Skype but a tool that can be verified by third parties.)

For those of us who grew up reading Neuromancer, Snow Crash, and other cyberpunk yarns: that is today, we are living in that world at this moment.

lhlonDec 30, 2014

I recently re-read Neuromancer this year as part of my VR research, and while it basically had no technical relevance, it stood head and shoulders above the rest (Snow Crash, etc) as a literary work, and if you rework some numbers/treat as slang the few bits of technical flavor ("three megabytes of hot RAM"!!!) it actually doesn't feel very dated to me - mostly due to just how clear/strong the writing is.

I was surprised by how strongly it evokes this sort of late-80s oppressive paranoia though. A reminder/argument for science fiction as a lens on contemporary society I suppose.

mindcrimeonMay 29, 2017

Gosh, there's so many. But these come to mind:

1. Neuromancer - William Gibson

2. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

3. Hackers - Heroes of the Computer Revolution - Steven Levy

4. How to Measure Anything - Douglas Hubbard

5. Godel, Escher, Bach - Douglas Hofstadter

6. The Pragmatic Programmer - Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas

7. The Soul of a New Machine - Tracy Kidder

8. Code - Charles Petzold

9. The Shockwave Rider - John Brunner

10. Ambient Findability: What We Find Changes Who We Become
- Peter Morville

11. Don't Make Me Think - Steve Krug

12. The Design of Everyday Things - Donald A. Norman

13. The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering - Fred Brooks

14. Decline and Fall of the American Programmer - Ed Yourdon

15. Cube Farm - Bill Blunden

16. The Philip K. Dick Reader

17. The Cuckoo's Egg - Clifford Stoll

18. The Prince - Niccolò Machiavelli

19. The 48 Laws of Power - Robert Greene

20. The Atrocity Archives - Charles Stross

21. Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System - Bill Gates

ThevetonOct 5, 2014

Lots of things to take issue with in this piece (among other things, the author seems to imply that Gibson coined the term "dub music") but this bit raises an interesting point about the ways that canonical near future books like Neuromancer and Snowcrash actually shape the near future:

"Thirty years after the novel’s publication, it’s difficult to tell whether Gibson foresaw the future or whether the future, designed by technologists who idolized Gibson’s novels, self-consciously imitated his novel."

smosheronMay 20, 2011

I think that apology was a mistake. Gibson got it right when he said the future is harder to predict now. I think that covers any 'mistakes' he might have made. If he'd known the future in fact he wouldn't have been able to write such good fiction.

When I first read Neuromancer it (obviously) didn't feel dated. I think going back and correcting things would make it bland. At the time the bit with the payphones was eerie, but now if you did that with cellphones and GPS it feels like less of a deus ex machina is messing with me and more the gov't is overstepping again. sigh. Which is really not the right vibe. I don't expect a youth to pick up Neuromancer today and comprehend it, no matter what you do to it.

More than anything Gibson writes culture. He once said he writes descriptions, but he's focusing on describing people and subcultures. I think the cultural era which he wrote his first trilogy for has past. The cultural era he wrote the second trilogy for is waving goodbye, but I think it's still very accessible to youth. His following books practically document the very era they were written for, which is a fun consequence of writing science fiction set in the plausible present.

pvgonMar 12, 2010

Commercial success?

The gushing letter he wrote predicted it's going to be a commercial success. I like the movie too (well, not the terrible theatrical release) but that doesn't mean that letter isn't somewhat nuts.

Heck, it changed the direction of WRITTEN science fiction

Except it didn't. Science fiction was already going there anyway. William Gibson on Blade Runner -

BLADERUNNER came out while I was still writing Neuromancer. I was about a third of the way into the manuscript. When I saw (the first twenty minutes of) BLADERUNNER, I figured my unfinished first novel was sunk, done for. Everyone would assume I'd copped my visual texture from this astonishingly fine-looking film.

I don't want to sound like a fanboy

Well, you're not doing a very good job of avoiding it. While you're sputtering at me and using all caps you somehow didn't notice I wasn't even talking about the movie. Simply pointing out it's a crazy letter written by a mentally ill person who hadn't even seen it. This fact is quite independent of the quality or cultural impact of the movie.

aarongoughonMar 29, 2010

I'm a big fan of Sci-Fi because I feel it makes people think about what they want the future to be, as well as avoiding the re-hashing of historical and current events that many fiction books set in the present do. With that in mind a list of great books to read:

  The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson
Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson
Gridlinked - Neal Asher
Neuromancer - William Gibson
The Reality Dysfunction - Peter F. Hamilton
The Dreaming Void - Peter F. Hamilton
Fallen Dragon - Peter F. Hamilton
Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan
Market Forces - Richard Morgan
Blindsight - Peter Watts
The Electric Church - Jeff Somers
Tunnel in the Sky - Robert A. Heinlein
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
1984 - George Orwell

FrogolocalypseonAug 8, 2016


The Emperors New Mind - Roger Penrose

Godel, Escher, Bach - Douglass Hoffstadter

Brocas Brain - Carl Sagan

The (mis)Behavior of Markets - Benoit Mandelbrot

The Black Swan - Nicholas Nassem Taleb


Gates Of Fire - Stephen Pressfield

Neuromancer - William Gibson

Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson

Hardwired - Walter Jon Williams

Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan

Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson

Space - Stephen Baxter

Enders Game - Orson Scott Card

Skeleton Crew - Stephen King

I've given away a lot of books. I'm old.

GFK_of_xmaspastonDec 30, 2014

If, like me, you haven't read Neuromancer in 20 years, from wiki:
"A street gang named the "Panther Moderns" is hired to create a simulated terrorist attack on Sense/Net. The diversion allows Molly to penetrate the building and steal Dixie's ROM."

I'm not really seeing why this (or the fedora squad) is something to be welcomed.

cstrossonAug 9, 2014

Mobile phones as we know them today didn't exist when Gibson was writing Neuromancer. Pub date in 1984 means the MS was handed in in mid-1983 and he was writing it 1981-82 (on a manual typewriter: the royalties from Neuromancer bought him his first computer, an Apple IIc).

While the idea of cellular comms dates to the 1950s (if not earlier), and some limited analog cellular service existed in some parts of the world (notably the Nordic countries from 1981), the UK didn't get analog cell service until roughly 1985; digital (over 2G GSM) didn't come along until roughly 1991. In Canada, cellphone service wouldn't have started until around the time the book was published, if not later. And, uninformed rumor to the contrary, SF isn't actually about prophesying the future.

mkodiakonDec 9, 2019

> A recently penned introduction to Neuromancer (by Gibson, I think, though it might be by Neil Gaiman) points this out

It was Gaiman in his series introduction to the Penguin Galaxy [1] reprint in hardcover of Neuromancer, Dune, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Once and Future King, The Left Hand of Darkness, and Stranger in a Strange Land.

[1] https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/series/PGX/penguin-galaxy...

calebmonDec 19, 2017

* The Unconsoled (Kazuo Ishiguro)

* Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)

* Influx (Daniel Suarex)

* Sputnik Sweetheart (Haruki Murakami)

* Apex (Ramez Naam)

* One Second After (William R. Forstchen)

* Anna Karanina (Leo Tolstoy)

* Neuromancer (William Gibson)

* A Farewell to Arms (Ernest Hemingway)

* Crux (Ramez Naam)

* A Moveable Feast (Ernest Hemingway)

* Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of the World (Haruki Murakami)

Built withby tracyhenry


Follow me on