My favorite part of reading a work of science fiction for the first time, like visiting a new country, is that hit of strangeness, of being someplace where I don’t know the rules, where even the familiar is unsettling, where I see everything with new eyes.
In 1984, Neuromancer delivered that to me. I read the book in small bites, like one of those sea-salt caramels that are too big and intense and salty to consume all at once. The first few chapters are especially chewy: I like the almost-brutal profligacy of the prose, new words and ideas cascading out of the book fresh and cold as a mountain torrent, and be damned if you lose your footing. The opening vision of an assaultive future is wide-ranging and obsessive, as if the narrator, dex-driven and frantic in Chiba City, just can’t turn his consciousness off. Everything he sees has layers of meaning and speaks of the past, the present, and the future all at once.