I started reading Gibson in the Blue Ant trilogy era, so this is my first time reading Neuromancer and I could see all the different ways it’s influenced sci-fi over the last ~40 years.
Parts of it still feel so fresh, particularly in this moment of debate around AI/machine learning applied to creating art. In one scene Case, a human hacker, converses with a computer construct created from the consciousness of a former acquaintance, and they get into the finer points of sentience/humanity:
“Motive,” the construct said. ”Real motive problem, with
an AI. Not human, see?”
“Well, yeah, obviously.”
“Nope. I mean, it’s not human. And you can’t get a handle
on it. Me, I’m not human either, but I respond like one. See?”
“Wait a sec,” Case said. “Are you sentient, or not?”
“Well, it feels like I am, kid, but I’m really just a bunch of ROM. It’s one of them, ah, philosophical questions, I guess…” The ugly laughter sensation rattled down Case’s spine. “But I ain’t likely to write you no poem, if you follow me. Your AI,it just might. But it ain’t no way human.”
Other parts haven’t aged as well: the ethnic descriptors for some places/characters feel very tied to 80s-era “Japan Rising” panic, and the women in this book feel less developed than later Gibson characters like Cayce Pollard and Flynne Fisher.
I don’t feel an immediate push to read the other two Sprawl novels, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, but I’ll get to them eventually.