25 reasons to read William Gibson’s Neuromancer

Essays by Shalon Sims on education, creative writing and literacy

25 reasons to read William Gibson’s Neuromancer


For the writers (and readers) who have not read (or who have not finished reading) William Gibson’s Neuromancer

! Well, I don’t want to come across as a book snob, but I do have to ask: How can you call yourself a well-read fictionado without having read Neuromancer? In classic Lily-(from How I Met Your Mother)-style, I’m going to give you 25 reasons why Neuromancer is an amazing book, and a must-read for anyone delving into the finer points of fiction-writing (and reading).

Brazilian cover

25 Reasons to Read Neuromancer

#1: It doesn’t follow the rules. The writing makes you work hard; it requires you to think  because it doesn’t follow the rules. If you are a writer developing your fiction writing skills, this extremely successful novel is a refreshing and inspiring break(#2) from most contemporary fiction, which works within the constraints of literary convention.

#3: The reckless freedom of language in Neuromancer gives us (as readers and writers) a rare glimpse, from the outside, at the foolishness of our conventions and rules. It’s enough to make you laugh (#4), and throw your Strunk & White out the window (#5)! (BTW, this outsider’s perspective is one of the main gifts of speculative fiction and science-fiction, but with Neuromancer, you can see this in the structure of the sentences themselves, in the words and how they sit next to each other to form ideas.)

#6: You do realize Neuromancer gave birth to cyberpunk (anything that can give birth to a new genre MUST be worth a read).

#7: You do realize that Gibson coined the word Cyberspace, and other commonplace techno-words came straight from Neuromancer.

#8: Imagery–the book is one big fat image. Its amazing! (see below).

#9: The prose is pure poetry. Okay we touched on prose, but let’s get into it. Gibson did something so radical and so revolutionary in Neuromancer that you probably take it for granted because he’s been copied millions of times since(#10). His crammed prose, his total disregard for traditional sentence structure and his use of completely original words (#11)—it’s beyond science-fiction, it’s beyond art, man, it’s genius. (#12)!  Example:

Sky Over Chiba by George Rigato on Flickr “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

He closed his eyes.
Found the ridged face of the power stud.
And in the bloodlit dark behind his eyes, silver phosphenes boiled in from the edge of space, hypnagogic images jerking past like a film compiled of random frames. Symbols, figures, faces, a blurred, fragmented mandala of visual information.
Please, he prayed, now-
A gray disk, the color of Chiba sky.
Disk beginning to rotate, faster, becoming a sphere of paler gray. Expanding-
And flowed, flowered for him, fluid neon origami trick, the unfolding of distanceless home, his country, transparent 3D chessboard extending to infinity. Inner eye opening to the stepped scarlet pyramid of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority burning beyond the green cubes of Mitsubishi Bank of America, and high and very far away he saw the spiral arms of the military systems, forever beyond his reach.
And somewhere he was laughing, in a white-painted loft, distant fingers caressing the deck, tears of release streaking his face.

#13: William Gibson not only writes punk, he is punk.

#14: William Gibson lives in Vancouver, which is an awesome city.

#15: You do realize that when he wrote Neuromancer there was no “Internet”?  At that point the internet was merely some little government/army file-sharing system and there were only a few people on it. It was called ARPANET. (how retarded is that?)

William Gibson, The ‘Cyberpunk’ Father, by Frederic Poirot on Flickr

#16: There is tons of sex, drugs (#17), and cybernetic implants (#18).

#19: The characters have real personalities. You love them and you hate them (#20)—like all good characters.

#21: The plot: totally going somewhere the whole time; there are no boring spots in the book where you just skip a few pages.

#22: The ending is awesome: it’s not depressing, but it’s not happy-happy-joy-joy… it’s subtle (#23) and revelatory(#24).

#25: The title Neuromancer alone is awesome.

So there, I hope you will now commence to read Neuromancer for the second time, and this time finish it. It’s on my list of must-reads for all of these 25 very good reasons. And if you’re a writer, then you can read it for the sake of becoming a better writer yourself (or a worse one, with more attitude).

Extra Links

The following links go straight to Google Book previews where you can read without paying money:


6 Responses

  1. Tallahassee Timmy says:

    This is the dumbest 25 reasons list i’ve ever read. There are more thought out, better written articles on buzzfeed. This article is embarrassing.

    • Shalon says:

      Well, it’s supposed to be ridiculous… and maybe a little embarrassing? You can’t please everyone, but I’ll take your comment into consideration. Maybe it needs an edit. I basically wrote this when I was a kid.

      Thanks for leaving a comment. This post gets quite a few hits, and Google would only keep sending people here if they found something they were looking for (ie. stayed for more than a second or two). Hopefully not all of those visitors left feeling like they wasted their time.

    • Shalon says:

      Okay, re-read the post and I have to say that it’s awesome and made me laugh out loud at least 10 times. I’m funny. Yes, I’m embarrassing, but I’m also funny. Sorry. There will be no edits. Like I said, you can’t please everyone.

  2. […] novel, Neuromancer.  I won’t get into it here–if readers want to know, they can go to my blog post about this–but suffice it to say that Bill has helped me to learn that conventions and rules of writing […]

  3. Abel says:

    Just got done with Chapter 4. I must say that was THE most confusing sequence I’ve read so far. I will go through with it though, despite being a beginner (at reading).

    • Shalon says:

      Hi Abel,
      This might not be the best book for someone who is a beginner at reading, unfortunately, so please don’t beat yourself up if you don’t manage to finish it. It is a very complex book that is not easy to read. I hope you enjoyed it though, please let me know how it went/is going.


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