Neuromancer strikes my fancy
A few weeks ago Keith Law tweeted this lifehacker list of seminal Science Fiction books. From the age of 10 – 30 the only books I read were nature/baseball/science fiction/westerns so I thought I’d take a look at the list and see how many of them I read.
Turns out I had read most of them (13 of the 17) but it was strange to see that most of the books were written a long long time ago. Several of them were my own personal favorites. Foundation and Stranger in a Strange Land.
The one book I thought I hadn’t read was Neuromancer which was called Cyberpunk Science Fiction and written in 1984. It piqued my interest so I kindled it and set to reading this past week.
This happens to me now and again, reading a book I thought I’d never read but as you get deeper into the story you realize you had read the book but still have no idea what happens. The characters are all vaguely familiar and as they get fleshed out, you start remembering them. While I didn’t know where the plot was headed I could remember enough that I knew who would live and die. I’m a bit strange that way, as I get involved in characters, I want to know if the author is going to let them live or die. I’ve checked many a back page of a book to see if someone I was getting involved with had survived the author’s story.
This happened recently to me when Jim Hitchcock over TBLA suggested Swan’s Song to me after I mentioned a book I had just finished. I kindled it, and sure enough, as I got into it, I realized I had read the book before.
If Neuromancer had been written in 1995 or 2000 or 2005 or 2015 or even 2017 it still would have had some punch, but for it to be written in 1984 before anything he was writing about even existed, was blowing my mind as I was reading it. Was the Matrix based on this book? Looks like it.
When I finished the book I was annoyed with one thing. When did I read it? Was it back in 1984 when it came out? This did not seem like a book I would seek out, but many times as a member of the Science Fiction Book Club I would take chances. I stopped being a member back in 1986 or when my divorce was just about wrapped up.
This was a great book, and deserves all the accolades it got.
What I don’t understand is why I couldn’t remember reading this book. It was unlike anything I’d ever read before so it should have stood out in my memory much as Foundation does or Roger Zelazny Amber series.
This list that Keith Law tweeted were Science Fiction books that were supposed to have greatly influenced the genre. That is a big task, but here are a few of my favorites that captivated my imagination.
A. Merritt – The Ship of Isthar – No one knows this book. It was written almost 100 years ago but I think it is simply brilliant. I also love this book because of how I found it. I was hitting the Glendale Libary when I was about 13 – 14. They had a small Science Fiction section and I’d probably already read most of what they had, but I found this book and the idea intrigued me. The story is captivating but what was amazing to me was that it was written in 1924. Based on my own reading history I kind of feel this was one of the first novels of it’s kind and it seems to be under-appreciated. This guy however gets it.
The novel is not only a rousing fantasy adventure story, but a philosophical exploration of the relationship between material reality and the abstract concepts through which humans struggle to understand it.
I always thought our buddy Hollywood Joe would love this book based on his recommendations to me about books he likes. This isn’t really Science Fiction, kind of crazy historical fantasy fiction.
David Brin – the Uplift Series – Love the hell out of this series, and his stand-alone novel Earth
Roger Zelazny – Amber Series – This would have been way cooler than Game of Thrones
Robert Heinlein – I enjoyed just about everything Heinlein wrote from his young adult stuff to his seminal Stranger in a Strange Land, to his bizarre forays after that but he had one stand-alone novel that was basically a Wild West Alien book called Glory Road.
Isacc Asimov – Foundation was great but I enjoyed his Robot series even more.
Douglas Adams – Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – I find myself reading this series every fve years or so. Still puts a smile on my face.
Arthur C Clarke – I had a strange introduction to Arthur C Clarke. As a yute I was going to be a Marine Biologist and dreamed of scuba diving. Arthur C Clarke wrote The Reefs of Taprobane about diving in the South Pacific and that was how I knew him as an author long before I found out he was a brilliant Science Fiction Writer. Later I gobbled up just about everything he wrote. I cannot name a favorite.
A. E. van Vogt – Slan wrote many short stories and novels but Slan was probably my favorite.
Anne McCaffrey – Dragonriders of Penn What I enjoyed about this series was that the battle was against nature and only through the symbiotic relationship between humans and dragons could they defeat the Thread. Growing up I have always hoped to hit it big financially, and one of the things I would have done with the money was to purchase the rights to this series to make it into a big ass movie franchise. It had everything the kids would have eaten up, Dragons and love, and nobody had to kill anyone, they just had to work together.
Anyway, those are just a few of my favorites. The list is old, other than the Uplift Series I read all these books before 1985.