This is a seminal collection, issued at the same time as the classic "Mirrorshades" anthology. 1986 was the year when cyberpunk "made it" to the shelves and the critic's approval in one sparkling "download". The recent "Matrix" movies took the veil of enigmatic beauty off the futuristic hacker's lifestyle, and made it commonplace. The good old books and stories, however, did not lose any of the punch and excitement. Still the best, by far. And if cyberpunks are not in vogue anymore, what is? what is next? Well, read the first sentence of this review again. Maybe the anti-consumerism grocery monster stories? We shall see. review: 31-Aug-06 (read in 1997)
Of course, they made it into a movie, with Keanu Reaves wisely cast as a fumbling hacker lost in the mazes of an Asian metropolis.
The movie did not do it for me, but this story already has all the elements of Gibson's and the Matrix world: a spooky mega-bridge, looming over the city as its own mini-universe, a circle of shimmering monitors, aquatic bio-engineered freaks, and the perennial questions of "what reality is" and "who stole my hard drive". Not bad. review: 31-Aug-06 (read in 1997)
3D virtual navigation, as imagined in 1986 (Click to enlarge)
A desire for such retro-future to occur in reality, against all odds of technology and logic; a future somehow more exquisite and noble than the one we see ahead of us. This wish is fulfilled in this story.
Due to some quirk in the continuum, the cumulative dream of the Gernsbeck era (or rather the Thirties' concept designs) comes to life and starts to haunt our present for real... Somebody should make an animated masterpiece based on this. The movie "Sky Captain" came close, but it hardly matches the pomp and scale of the original "fever dreams" of fantastic art Michelangelos. review: 2-Sep-06 (read in 1989)
To understand Gibson's writing, sensibilities, and paradigm you have to be equally fascinated with an intense urban culture (such as of Japanese cities; the photograph below gives you an idea of some of their "cool congestion") and frustrated by the plainness of middle class American lifestyle, lost in an infinity of strip malls. Add frenetic, restless imagination, "noir" mood and pulp action, and you'll get a poetry of neon-lights and metaphors of concrete that will either unravel or "cement-frieze" your soul. review: 2-Sep-06 (read in 1989)
It is also perhaps William Gibson's only venture into the horror genre (guided by the capable John Shirley, who is certainly not a stranger to the murky and weird literary underground). It tells of a strange transformation from human to... something else. A guy meets a girl in a bar, follows her to another bar, and notices that along the way, she has morphed into someone completely different. It turns out to be the "adaptability" technique of a a weird alien kind, but very useful in our society, making our guy obsessed with it and desiring it above anything else. review: 2-Sep-06 (read in 1989)
Contact with aliens is shown as a totally incomprehensible event, prone to drive possible "artifact prospectors" nuts. As one such Gold Rush character says in this story: "The contact with 'superior' civilization is something that you don't wish on your worst enemy" review: 2-Sep-06 (read in 1987)
It is still "a mystery of mysteries" to me, how quite miserable Soviet technology could meet the demands of Russian ambitions in space (or how the rudimentary Sixties computers could put Americans on the Moon). It's almost like the mechanisms and chips themselves smarten up and begin to work better when hearing phrases like "the last frontier" or "the will of the people". Come to think of it, I'm amazed even by the consistent performance of millions of contacts and hundreds of chips in a normal fighter jet. So many things could go wrong and yet they rarely do. review: 2-Sep-06 (read in 1987)
This story has the general look and feel of "Neuromancer", "Count Zero" and other Sprawl series novels. Another significant "brick in the wall" of Gibson's world-building again gives us many thrills, many dangers and very few hopes in a very inhuman future society. Worthy to read due to the sheer pyrotechnics and exuberance of style. Great summer blockbuster entertainment. review: 2-Sep-06 (read in 1987)
WITHOUT A DOUBT ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL COLLECTIONS IN SF HISTORY.
"SF&F Reading Experience" is a part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun!
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