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Neuromancer cover art

Neuromancer

Written by: William Gibson
Narrated by: Robertson Dean
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Publisher's Summary

Twenty years ago, it was as if someone turned on a light. The future blazed into existence with each deliberate word that William Gibson laid down. The winner of Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards, Neuromancer didn't just explode onto the science fiction scene - it permeated into the collective consciousness, culture, science, and technology.Today, there is only one science fiction masterpiece to thank for the term "cyberpunk," for easing the way into the information age and Internet society. Neuromancer's virtual reality has become real. And yet, William Gibson's gritty, sophisticated vision still manages to inspire the minds that lead mankind ever further into the future.

©1984 William Gibson (P)2011 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"Unforgettable ... The richness of Gibson’s world is incredible.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“Freshly imagined, compellingly detailed, and chilling in its implications.” (The New York Times)

"Serious science fiction and fantasy readers cannot resist the classics.... That’s what makes the Penguin Galaxy series so appealing.... Each of the novels here has earned their place in the halls of literary history.... Their small form factor and minimalist covers call out to readers and make them fun to read all over again.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Featured Article: 11 Best Sci-Fi Audiobooks to Listen to Right Now

For the listener who craves exploring new worlds, extraterrestrial life, galaxies, technologies, weapons and even threats and political machinations, there’s nothing quite like an imaginative sci-fi listen. If you’re looking for your next escapist journey full of wonder, discovery and excitement, look no further. These listens are some of the best sci-fi book series available. Each of the titles on this list will whisk you away to another time, place or dimension, and wrap you up in an unpausable story that engages and entertains from the first second to the last.

What listeners say about Neuromancer

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legendary

one of the best writers of fiction to ever put pen to paper. spellbinding and pure.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Classic of Science Fiction

Intense. Vivid. Gritty. Noir almost.
Clearly a massive influence for many blockbuster books, films, and video games generations in the future.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

The narration is ROUGH

The narrator's voice couldn't hold my attention at all. The story seemed fine at the start, but I just couldn't keep going. I'm going to look for a different version of the audiobook.

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Book > Narration

This isn’t an entirely “fresh” review, since I once read part of Neuromancer in text format off of the Internet. I never finished it, though, because the site went offline. I mention this because the existence of the Internet, and even some of its nature, was partially dreamed up by Gibson in the form of “cyberspace”. We still use this word of his and another he coined for it, “the matrix”, when we talk about the technology that connects us all together. It is always changing, losing parts and gaining parts, without respect for what it used to be, just like in the novel.

Upon listening to Dean read the book, I was struck by how little I remembered from my first partial read. It all seemed new to me, even though the concepts have surrounded me in all sorts of media for most of my life. Gibson’s semi-apologetic forward was cute (imagine feeling bad for not predicting the ubiquitousness of mobile phones) and contained enough humility to pardon any perceived sin of birthing the difficult-to-define genre of cyberpunk.

The book was groundbreaking, and its “newness” comes through even now, forty years after it was first published. Besides the very idea of cyberspace, the tone is different than most science fiction that preceded it: nasty, almost pornographic, and with a distinct lack of hope that innovation will save us all. At the same time, it harkens back to earlier times. Certainly, a debt to the hard-boiled detective fiction of the early twentieth century is owed. It reaches back even further, though, when you dissect the passage in which the titular AI explains the origin of his name. Besides the potent power words of “neuron” and “necromancer”, we also see “new romancer”.

There was a “New Romantic” movement in art in the seventies and eighties that is mostly remembered for a few pop music purveyors like Ultravox and Japan, but the original Romantic movement of the nineteenth century was also harkening back, somewhat longingly, to the medieval, a time before the Renaissance when progress was not expected and life was to be faced as it was, not as it might be.

This seems to be the attitude of the book’s protagonist, Case, who enters the stage as a failure, a man formerly of great talent but who must now wrestle for scraps with the vermin of the underworld. He expects nothing better, which makes him an easy mark when hope is suddenly thrust in front of him. It seems too good to be true, and it is. He doesn’t trust this hope, but he has nothing better going on and falls into one confusing situation after another. Like a medieval peasant confronted with demons and ghosts, he doesn’t bother to disbelieve, but interacts with artificial intelligences and the recreated psyches of a dead mentor and lover as if they were real. For all intents and purposes, they are. Maybe the unseen Renaissance is on the horizon in the form of AI, but no one can be expected to see it.

Yes, the book is great, as advertised, but what about the narration? I will admit that although Dean’s slow reading made it easy to catch every word, it was a little monotonous in timbre, making it easy for the reader to lose focus on it. Although he admirably dipped into accents for some characters, they nearly always spoke slowly and that made them all seem a little too similar. My biggest gripe is that Maelcum’s accent changed over the course of the book from a subtly melodic Caribbean when he is first encountered to a dull, almost Tonto-like, grunt. I can make up excuses for these faults (Maelcum’s original accent was a put-on that slips when it is no longer important, the monotonous narrative is what you would expect from a speed-freak who can no longer indulge), but it doesn’t really wash. The reader needs to engage the listener, as well as serve the story and its characters. It’s a tough gig and this one loses points in the engagement category. If other listeners felt the same way, it may explain why the sequels in the Sprawl Trilogy never got an audiobook treatment.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A great story with an okay narration

The legendary cyberpunk novel that ultimately birthed the genre, this book is well worth the time. My only beef is with the reader. The female lead of the book, Molly, is a badass rough and tumble gal with the implants to prove it. Dean's soft, almost subservient reading of her lines detracts from the tone of the story and makes scenes with her in them less impactful. She has no force by his reading, making her a tedious side character, rather than one of the features.

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"ZZZZZZ" for all the good reasons

This is my bedtime book to put me to sleep no other book does it better. But that is not because it is boring the Orator just have a perfect voice for it and the book imagery fluid and abstract in parts for a dreamy rest. Fantastic story and very well read!!!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Enter the Matrix!

Narrator was a little monotone. Story jumped around in a cool way, like a cyber-hallucination. Noir cop story. Lots of elements that were later used in the Matrix series.

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GREAT LISTEN, SLOWS IN AREAS

The content was impressive for the time period considering the web was slowly seeping out of DOD at the time. Narration felt a bit slow at times to the point it was distracting. Great listen.

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oh but that reading!

Such great book! But the narrator was lacking and sometimes just painful to listen to. If I hadn't read this book previously & enjoyed it, the reading would have lead me never give it another look.

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A fun ride that's held up shockingly well

It's surprisingly easy, between the crisp and well produced 2011 recording and narrative structure that feels quite in line with modern storytelling, that Neuromancer is a novel written in 1984 on a typewriter, in a world where 'cyberpunk' wasn't even a fully formed idea yet.

Neuromancer is, at its heart, a heist/mystery novel with a fine coat of science fiction paint. The characters, of which there are many, all have distinct voices and consistent personalities, a tricky feat that most heist novels have a hard time sticking the landing on with their generally large casts.

Additionally, the core mystery, in spite of its age, and the profound genre influence of Neuromancer, is well built and, at many points, will keep the reader guessing.

Even setting aside the cultural significance of the novel, this one is a great listen in its own right. To top it off, Robertson Dean's silky smooth baritone will carry you through the whole thing, putting in a performance that is oftentimes oddly relaxing.

Definitely give this one a look if you're a fan of sci fi or heists.

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