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Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 9, Chapter10, Chapter 11Chapter 12 Chapter 13, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, Chapter 17, Chapter 18, Chapter 19, Chapter 20, Chapter 21, Chapter 22, Chapter 23Coda When Neuromancer by William Gibson was first published it created a sensation. Orperhaps it would be more precise to say that it was used to create a sensation, for Bruce Sterling and other Gibson associates declared that a new kind ofscience fiction had appeared which rendered merely ordinary SF obsolete. Informed by the amoral urban rage of the punk subculture and depicting thedeveloping human-machine interface created by the widespread use of computersand computer networks, set in the near future in decayed city landscapes likethose portrayed in the film Blade Runner it claimed to be the voice of a new generation. (Interestingly, Gibson himself has said he had finished much of what was to be his body of early cyberpunk fiction before ever seeing Blade Runner. ) Eventually it wasseized on by hip postmodern academics looking to ride the wave ofthe latest trend. Dubbed cyberpunk; the stuff was being talked abouteverywhere in SF. Of course by the time symposia were being held on the subject, writers declared cyberpunk dead, yet the stuff kept being published and itcontinues to be published today by writers like K. W. Jeter and Rudy Rucker. Perhaps the best and most representative anthology of cyberpunk writers is Mirrorshades., edited by Sterling, the genres most outspokenadvocate. Another page on Cyberpunk.
But cyberpunks status as the revolutionary vanguard was almost immediatelychallenged. Its narrative techniques, many critics pointed out, were positivelyreactionary compared to the experimentalism of mid-60s new wave SF. One of the main sources of its vision was William S. Burroughs quasi-SF novelslike Nova Express, (1964), and the voice of Gibsons narratorsounded oddly like a slightly updated version of old Raymond Chandler novelslike The Big Sleep, (1939). Others pointed out that almost all of cyberpunks characteristics could be foundin the works of older writers such as J. G. Ballard, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, or Samuel R. Delany. Most damning of all, it didnt seem to havebeen claimed by the generation it claimed to represent. Real punks did littlereading, and the vast majority of young SF readers preferred to stick withtraditional storytellers such as Larry Niven, Anne McCaffrey and even RobertHeinlein. Gibsons prose was too dense and tangled for casual readers, so itis not surprising that he gained more of a following among academics than amongthe sort of people it depicted. Heavy Metal comics and MaxHeadroom brought more of the cyberpunk vision to a young audience thandid the fiction.
(Art by Heavy Metal artist Moebius, with French text. ) Yet Neuromancer is historically significant. Most critics agreethat it was not only the first cyberpunk novel, it was and remains the ...

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