I actually finished reading Neuromancer a couple days ago. So, um, what did I think of it?
I mean, it's a decent enough read...Gibson's a good storyteller. But THIS is the grandfather of the cyberpunk genre? Forgive me, but it reads like any futuristic speculative fiction book to me. That is, standard sci-fi fare. Nothing about it particularly says "cyberpunk" to me.
I suppose the idea of a computer matrix was pretty heady stuff back in 1983 (or was it? The film WarGames was released in 1983 and so modems and the beginnings of the internet were already in place).
How about people willing to sell their souls/bodies for the money to (invasively) augment their own bodies? Well, there's nothing all pervasive about "getting chromed" in Neuromancer...only a couple characters have elected for augmentation (organ transplants and cosmetic/geriatric surgery being the real ubiquitous procedures). And so what if they're not shook up about it? Didn't people think it would be cool to be the Six Million Dollar Man or Deathlok back in 1983?
No, Neuromancer seems no more cyberpunk than the 1980 film Saturn 3...and it certainly doesn't feel very "noir" or "hard boiled." You've got a futurist world where there are space ships side-by-side with (the equivalent of) 20th century drug addicts? How is that any different from Harlan Ellison's brilliant short story Run for the Stars (originally published circa 1957). Answer: it's not.
This is simply the Stainless Steel Rat in a more dystopian universe. I'm sorry...color me completely disenchanted and even unimpressed. Having read Neuromancer, I can't for the life of me see how it has come to be considered "the archetypal cyberpunk work." Archetypal?
What is cyberpunk about the Rastafari movement?
I'm starting to think there ISN'T such a thing as "cyberpunk." I mean, there's an IDEA by that name, and people have an idea of what it is...kind of like people had an idea of what "Seattle" and "Grunge" music is/was. But Chrome and Drugs and Computer Hackers can (and do) fit into a lot of SciFi genres. It feels (to me) like a whole mountain of pastiche tropes have been created around an idea that was never anything more than a little piece of SciFi with a clever name...and not even an amazingly original piece of SciFi, at that.
Sorry, Gibson...I vastly preferred The Difference Engine to this.