I’ve read and loved Gibson’s recent work, Pattern Recognition and Spook Country, but I’d never before read this classic cyberpunk novel.
It’s good, but having read his later work it’s clear he has progressed enormously as a writer. This isn’t to bash Neuromancer. The story is fast-paced and gets going from the start, no messing around. However this is an earlier work, and shows it. The talent is there, but not as well-tuned as in his later work. If you’ve never read Neuromancer I’d certainly recommend it, but behind Gibson’s more recent books.
I first read this book when I was twelve, and it was a cool book about a martial arts fighter who gets into some political trouble and ends up exiled in a strange alien jungle.
I read this book again in my early twenties, and discovered instead it was a very interesting take on society, sexuality, and nature.
Reading it again in my mid-thirties, the book is still highly enjoyable. The eponymous Kid is a ‘combat artist’ who enters arranged fights for money or honour. He is followed everywhere by his camera drones that record his every action. After a fight he edits and uploads his own tapes for the enjoyment of the masses. At the peak of his art, he is becoming very rich.
It all goes wrong after Kid encounters Moses Moses, the planet’s founder returned after 500 years cryo-sleep. Forced to flee to the planet’s untamed wilds, Kid meets his former mentor and understands the true nature of the planet that has become a playground for the indolent.
The Artificial Kid is all of the things I found the first two times I read. This time I discovered another theme – self. Kid and Saint Anne have denied their true natures for so long, subsumed in distractions until they thought that was their life. Trapped together in the wilds, they discover something unexpected – themselves. Hmm, does that sound like the voice-over to a crappy romance film? It wasn’t meant to. Self. It’s another theme. Go read it, it has nunchuks with guns hidden in them.