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Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Favorite William Gibson Novel? 298

dryriver writes: When I first read William Gibson's Neuromancer and then his other novels as a young man back in the 1990s, I was blown away by Gibson's work. Everything was so fresh and out of the ordinary in his books. The writing style. The technologies. The characters and character names. The plotlines. The locations. The future world he imagined. The Matrix. It was unlike anything I had read before. A window into the far future of humanity. I had great hopes over the years that some visionary film director would take a crack at creating film versions of Neuromancer, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive . But that never happened. All sorts of big budget science fiction was produced for TV and the big screen since Neuromancer that never got anywhere near the brilliance of Gibson's future world. Gibson's world largely stayed on the printed page, and today very few people talk about Neuromancer, even though the world we live in, at times, appears headed in the exact direction Gibson described in his Sprawl trilogy. Why does hardly anybody talk about William Gibson anymore? His books describe a future that is much more technologically advanced than where we are in 2017, so it isn't like his future vision has become "badly dated." To get the conversation going, we rephrased dryriver's question... What is your favorite William Gibson novel?
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Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Favorite William Gibson Novel?

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  • by inking ( 2869053 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:12AM (#55347795)
    As much as I like the genre, I think they are all bad.
    • Can you elaborate why you think they are bad? If not, then why post at all?
      • Case, you got to read the book, Case. If you do, Case, you'll understand why, Case. Case, its pretty obvious, Case. Case the Case, Case. Case Case Case, Case Case Casing Case.

  • Neuromancer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:16AM (#55347809)

    I wish someone would turn Neuromancer into a film, it would be far better than a lot of the garbage we get at the cinema these days.

    • Re:Neuromancer (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:51AM (#55347895)

      Impossible. You can try, but I am certain you'll fail just like all others did. Try it yourself. Take the novel and turn it into a script. Then gauge just how long it really is and what run time you'd end up with. Not with the whole trilogy, just the first, just NM. You end up with a movie that runs 5 hours and you already left out half of what's important. Cut it more and what you end up with is a movie that makes no sense, explains no character, you will of course get a story out of it but in the end, nobody who knows the novel will recognize it anymore.

      A lot of the novel is internal monologue and information about the characters' mood, ideas, ideals, hopes and expectations. How'd you want to do that, if at all? In a voiceover while they stare meaningful into the evening sky that looks like a TV tuned to a dead channel?

      • I thought Ender's Game translated to the movie well. Perhaps because the author was involved in the screenwriting?

      • Good case in point is "Johnny Mnemonic" Somebody tried to make a movie out of one chapter and failed miserably:

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

      • You end up with a movie that runs 5 hours and you already left out half of what's important.

        So make it a Netflix series, like Sense8.

        A lot of the novel is internal monologue and information about the characters' mood, ideas, ideals, hopes and expectations.

        There are directors and screenwriters who have been very skilled at conveying internal monologue, mood, ideas etc. I think of Kubrick's Clockwork Orange and Charlie Kaufman's Adaptation. Also Scorsese's Taxi Driver and Sam Mendes American Beauty. Lot's

    • After watching Blade Runner 2049 this weekend I believe that Denis Villeneuve should give it a go.

    • Johnny Mnemonic [wikipedia.org] with Kaenu Reeves is kind of that :
      it's an adaptation of a Gibson's short story that introduce the universe and a few characters that Gibson will later use for its Sprawl trilogy.

    • There was a attempt to turn Neuromancer in to a movie around 1986/7: King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp reported [dgmlive.com] that he had started work on music for the soundtrack.

      In August it was reported [hollywoodreporter.com] that Deadpooldirector Tim Miller is to direct an adaptation of Neuromancer for Fox. I think some King Crimson music would go very well e.g. Level Five [youtube.com] as title music.

      • I like Fripp, but I think his music might be a little too conventional for Neuromancer. Some of the contemporary electronica has finally caught up to Neuromancer.

        • by halivar ( 535827 )

          I never thought I'd hear someone call Fripp "too conventional."

          But you also made me sad again that the original King Crimson line-up only made one album. :(

          • I never thought I'd hear someone call Fripp "too conventional."

            Don't get me wrong. Maybe I should have said that Fripp is too influenced by the European classical tradition to be appropriate for a Neuromancer soundtrack. Too serious. I imagine the music for Neuromancer would be more informed by the disposable electronica, dubstep-influenced, and the chopped, sampled stuff. Not that it would be better music, just more appropriate.

            I'm a big fan of Fripp. I've seen various incarnations of King Crimson (an

            • by halivar ( 535827 )

              Lucky! I'm 38, so I must live vicariously through my father's recollections. I yet hope that that down-tempo electronica will one day rediscover the joy of the mellotron.

    • I wish someone would turn Neuromancer into a film, it would be far better than a lot of the garbage we get at the cinema these days.

      It would bomb miserably at the box office, because most of the audience would perceive it as a rip-off of "The Matrix", "Tron", and dozens of other films that have used Gibson's tropes. Most people under the age of 40 have never heard of "Neuromancer" and would never be able to fit the movie into their preconceptions of a story that was written 30+ years ago.

      On top of that, mu

  • by Qbertino ( 265505 ) <moiraNO@SPAMmodparlor.com> on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:28AM (#55347835)

    I know the neuromancer and the bridge triology and like both. Perhaps the Bridge triology is a bit better because the scenarios described are more plausible, as is the character of Chevette in "Virtual Light".
    Then again, in the neuromancer triology all three books where quite memorable, whereas Idoru was sort of meh IMHO.

  • But Neuromancer is one of my favorite books,
  • He has not made one dud book and if I was to choose one to be best I would say The Peripheral but I could change my mind in 2018.

    Please keep writing Bill.

  • None (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday October 11, 2017 @03:46AM (#55347879) Homepage Journal
    I am really enjoying not reading a William Gibson novel right now. Thus, my favorite is None. I hope to continue to enjoy not reading William Gibson for a while. He is indeed one of my favorite authors for not reading.
    • And by the way, I hope to enjoy not reading Walter Jon Williams for some time after I'm done with Quillifer.
    • Also, I'd like to throw in Phillip K. Dick into the same mix. I recently read some of his books for the first time and I'm amazed how much the state of the art in Sci-Fi has advanced since the time of trashy novels.
  • What is your favorite William Gibson novel?

    Actually, although I wouldn't have been able to place the author's name, I did consider reading Neuromancer when I came across it, many years back. Didn't do so, but I might pick it up, now that I've been reminded.

  • At the bottom of the page I see today's fortune is ""The Street finds its own uses for technology." -- William Gibson" which sounds too perfect of a coincidence.
  • "Three megabytes of hot RAM"

  • This was the book that opened my eyes to reading novels in the language they were written in. "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel" just doesn't translate that well...
  • Neuromancer will always be a standout piece of speculative fiction and iâ(TM)ll always love it. His newer works are probably âoebetterâ and more nuanced. The wilder dystopias traded for something far more familiar (but still dysfunctional in their own ways). Pattern Recognition is great and a roughly contemporary story. The Peripheral a good mix of both (though perhaps an increasingly uncomfortable one given what has happened in the world since it was written). Not sure I particularly wan
  • The real world tech we have satisfies his vision. It was interesting before the tech we have today. If someone projects the automobile, it is interesting. If the automobile surrounds us, it isn't.
  • The opening line of Neuromancer: "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." I mean, why not say the sky was a clear, bright, uniform blue? :-P

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      Funny, but for the rest of the millenials, TV tuned to a dead channel was often referred to as an "ant race".

      Think "static" on a monitor screen as projected by 1908s sci-fi shows.

      • by Tal Cohen ( 4834 )

        I know... I know... that was the whole point of my (attempted) joke. NM.

        • I know... I know... that was the whole point of my (attempted) joke. NM.

          I got it, and I even thought it was funny. However, my LCD televisions still generate static and even white noise for nostalgia's sake, which I think might have had something to do with the reception of your joke here in nerdland.

    • Didn't a Terry Pratchett novel use that exact line to describe a clear, blue, sunny day, as a lampshade of that little onwards-march of technology?
  • His shorts stories were better than his novels. The early novels, especially, contained far too much filler in order to stretch out what was really a novella into commercial length.

    Among his short stories, I think Hinterlands is still one of the best bits of any sort of fiction I've read.

  • Off topic a bit, but I noticed that on Amazon, Burning Chrome is cheaper as a paperback than the Kindle version.

    I'm seeing $9.49 for the Kindle and $8.11 for the paperback. As a Prime member, shipping is $0.00.

    https://www.amazon.com/Burning... [amazon.com]

    Trees would seem to be more expensive that bits down the wire. Dystopia.

    • It is for this reason that I have gone back to buying paper books... I am incentivized to do so... not my fault that they apparently want to work a lot harder and eat up all their margins bringing me those words printed on paper rather than make ebooks cheaper....

  • For a long while it was Neuromancer, if for no other reason than that opening line, and the overall tone and mood. Good science fiction? No. Beautiful prose, definitely.

    The Blue Ant trilogy, including Spook Country, took the lead not too long ago. Solid writing, better story, still just on the cusp of our world.

    But the Peripheral is damned brilliant. Wild-ass SF ideas, great writing, probably one of my favorite books of all time.

  • List all William Gibson books and let people vote!

  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Philip K Dick

    But seriously, I read Neuromancer for the first time ~8 years back, and it came across as visionary for the period in which it was released. That is to say, it was kind of a slog to read now, and most everything new in it has been done to death since. Maybe his other stuff holds up more? Maybe I was in a weird headspace and I'd like it a lot more if I re-read it?

    I tried reading Snow Crash as well, by Neal Stephenson, and distinctly thinking "This would ha

    • That's quite pertinent. One of the main plaudits given to Gibson is he always seemed ahead of his time, and had such massive influence on SF to follow. Of course everything he did in the earlier books has been "done to death" because everyone copied him. Although that might make his earlier works seem dated somewhat, it says a lot for the quality of his vision.

    • by shess ( 31691 )

      Dick, though, holds up really well, despite being a lot older. So if you're a freak like me who questions the premise of this article, and you haven't read his stuff, give it a shot :)

      FALSE! After 35 years of reading science fiction and fantasy, I saw that the new Blade Runner movie was coming out, and realized "You know, I've not read much PKD, I should fix that." So I ordered some material and collections, and got to work.

      Some stories like "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" are fine, minor dated bits, but the core story is strong. But other stories have a lot of uninspected misogyny which makes them hard to read - not like he's been mean or anything, it reads more like a young ma

  • I read a lot of SF and Fantasy, so I feel little shame in saying I've read no Gibson outside of Neuromancer.

    It was OK I suppose. But I wasn't really fond of his protagonist. Dude wasn't sympathetic at all, and in the end I just did not like him. I think I would have enjoyed it more if he'd written it from the point of view of his female bodyguard. Also his universe was dystopian and ugly. I already have one ugly dystopia narrated by people I don't like, I don't need more when I go to read.

    OTOH, if that

  • In the Burning Chrome Anthology, this short story, of all of Gibson's work, had a greater impact on my research than any other story he wrote.

    He only co-wrote it too. It was written by Michael Swanwick and William Gibson

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

  • I read all of William Gibson's books from Neuromancer all the way through All Tomorrow's Parties, and I gave the hell up. None of them even approach the quality of Neuromancer. The only one that was any good at all was Idoru, and that was no Neuromancer.

    At this stage I am convinced that William Gibson didn't actually write Neuromancer, at least not on his own. I think, at best, it was a joint project with John Shirley and Bruce Sterling, and Gibson himself may or may not have been involved.

Neutrinos have bad breadth.