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.
This is a book I read in a couple of days, and then spent a couple of months thinking about. Then I read it again.
It starts off, as many SF stories do, with humanity exploring the galaxy, colonising planets, and then coming into contact with an implacable alien force bent on humanity’s destruction.
Humanity is reduced to a few colonists sent off in a desperate last-ditch effort to re-establish the species, and stay low-tech and out of sight until humanity is ready to face the aliens and win. Instead, the colony directors brainwash the colonists into believing them to be angels, sent by god to rule over them. The military directors argue against this, there is a fight, and the ‘angels’ manage to wipe themselves out.
Nine Hundred years later, a robotic body is activated, complete with the memories of a young ship’s officer. Her task, given via recorded message, is to go out into a society ruled over by a rigid church that has banned technology, and prepare the way for the second coming of humanity.
Her name is Nimue Alban and hers is one hell of a story.
Alan’s Moore’s tale of costumed heroes grown old revolutionised the comics industry when it was published in the 80s. Writers like Moore and Frank Miller made comics something people had a reason to read.
Revisiting the series, it does not disappoint. It strikes me this time round that the story is principally about what happens when life moves on and leaves you behind. Where do you go?
This is a question asked by the original heroes, now ageing and dying, and also their generational replacements. The story starts and ends with the murder of one costumed hero by another.
For me the best moment of the tale is on Mars when Laurie finally learns the truth of her parentage, a truth she has known her whole life but never consciously admitted to herself. As Jon helps her bring the truth to the surface, it’s very moving.
If you’ve never read The Watchmen before, now is the time to do so. If you’ve never read a graphic novel before, The Watchmen is an excellent place to start.
With this, the 10th Y: The Last Man collected edition, the series ends. For those just joining here, Y: The Last Man is a graphic nivel series written by Brian K. Vaughn. It begins with a mysterious plague that wipes out every male mammal on the planet.
As societies fall and reform, Yorick Brown, one of only two surviving males, must find out what caused the plague and why he and his capuchin monkey are the only males alive.
Now survivalist literature like this is hardly new, neither is the ‘world as run by women’ scenario. Vaughn adroitly avoid the usual geek misogyny of this story type through great characterisation and storytelling.
Yorick becomes fixated on reuniting with his girlfriend, who was holidaying in Australia when the plague occurred. In this, the tenth book, that reuniting finally takes place. I’m giving nothing away.
The story culminates, not with a bang, but with a bullet. A very important bullet. I’ll say no more. Well maybe a little. The whole Miss Haversham thing was disappointing, but otherwise it was a fitting end to a great series. If you haven’t tried this saga yet, I recommend it.