You cannot utter cyberpunk without mentioning William Gibson. He painted a weird world with his first book Neuromancer and set the standards for future cyberpunk. Back when I was reading the book and reading a lot more of the genre the picture those books painted didn’t seem so close, but now many things Gibson wrote has sneaked into our current life, and we ignore them, like corporate surveillance (and power,) biohacking (still in its early steps, but getting there,) algorithms, sex robot hotels, individuals (wealthy persons) ability to shape the society, and living solely on the internet, and here they are part of our community. The grim picture which made me wonder then is more mundane than talking face to face with a stranger other than a cashier.
Count Zero continues on Necromancer’s set path. It often feels like a repetition from the earlier book or more like a do-over. The players, issues, and the setting feel the same. It’s a better book, it has a more precise tone, and writing has developed, but the jumping from one person to another was confusing at times, starting a chapter with he or she, and not telling who she or he for a paragraph takes time from the reader to orientate, especially after starting from where you left it last night. This made the reading experience less appealing and frustrating. Then there are the lengthy descriptions of the technology, setting and so on, but that is part of the cyberpunk genre, William Gibson and other genre writers are picturing the future for us, telling what to see, hear, feel, and taste.
Neuromancer is a must-read for anyone who wants to read cyberpunk, anyone who loves utopias and what the future could be. Count Zero, on the other hand, is a good book, but it feels too much the same. What kind of different stories could have been told in the same parameters? Don’t get me wrong, it is a good book and works as a standalone, and you don’t have to have read cyberpunk before, but I wanted development.