Sunday, August 7, 2011

Neuromancer by William Gibson (Hats off, a Genius)

NEUROMANCER by William Gibson is a science fiction masterpiece and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick awards.  In some ways it had an effect on how the internet was developed, as Gibson coined the word "cyberspace," and it described "the matrix" in detail.  With a plot involving a hacker hired to steal a code allowing an artificial intelligence to merge with its twin identity, the book is light years beyond the cyberpunk genre that it created.  Now, with a movie version in pre-production, a new recording on audio of this iconic and visionary 1984 novel is read by Robertson Dean.  Below is an excerpt.  The novel is available from Audible. Be sure also to pick up a great collection of Gibson stories, including one of the best sf stories ever written by anyone, "Hinterlands," titled BURNING CHROME.  
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Author Philip K. Dick was an imaginative seer who enjoyed playing with alternate realities and perceptions. In his SF novel THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH he explores the subjective nature of reality. In this future age the Earth is hot, but escape to the colonies is not a pleasant alternative, although you could be drafted to go there against your will, in which case you may want to hire someone to help you fool the required psych exam (including, for one enterprising resister, the acquisition of epilepsy). As in another of Dick's stories, made into the Tom Cruise movie "Minority Report," pre-cogs exist who can see the future, or at least the possible derivations. However, here most are not cops, but "pre-fash" cogs, meaning they can anticipate what will become fashionable. Enter Palmer Eldritch, who has returned from deep space with a new designer drug that he claims can open one's eyes to the ultimate mysteries, if not immortality itself. Except then we learn that Eldritch is dead. Or is he? Everything is not spelled out here, even in Dick's typically muscular prose, all of which gives the reader a disconcerting yet oddly satisfying sense of the miraculous. Remember the director's cut ending of "Blade Runner," (based on another Dick story), where Harrison Ford's eyes seem to glow in the dark for a second, causing speculation among viewers as to whether he too was an artificial human? Sometimes it's good to leave a few question marks lying around. This new recording of "The Three Stigmata" is by actor and voiceover talent Tom Weiner, whose delivery embraces the ethereal nature of the text while evincing yet another sign (or rather stigmata) that Dick still lives in the imaginations of readers.

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