Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why William Gibson Confuses Me

Neuromancer is one of my favorite novels, but I know it's not for everyone. William Gibson is one of those writers who makes his writing as dense and symbolic as possible. A perfect example is the very first line of the novel, "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel."

I know people who love that line, but I always found it bewildering. I always thought he meant "gray," but that doesn't work. A dead channel doesn't have a single color - static isn't gray. With static, the color varies from black to gray. The sky can't literally be the color of static, unless you looked up in the sky and saw clouds flickering like static. So to me, this analogy is strained to the breaking point.

I also got a chuckle out of a chapter in The Difference Engine where he starts out describing a character's cellular structure and keeps expanding outwards to internal organs until it finally turned out he described a woman taking a bath. There's absolutely no reason for him to describe her biology, because it's not relevant to the story. He just decided to do that for reasons known only to himself.

TL:DR - Some of Gibson's writing sucks.

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