the Webb blog

Count Zero review

2 minute read

After reading William Gibson's Neuromancer I knew I had to read Count Zero. Once it picked it up, it was difficult to put down.

There are four different story arcs that eventually culminate in a satisfying climax. What does a wannabe hotshot hacker cowboy, a disgraced historian, an extremely rich and dying man, and a hitman for hire all have in common? Well, you're gonna have to read Count Zero to figure out for yourself (I'm assuming you don't want spoilers). There is a lot to love about this sci-fi novel and I hope it becomes a movie someday.

Something that stood out to me was continued references to "the matrix". Count Zero was printed in 1986 (before I was alive!) and because this book is so inventive and fascinating, I wouldn't be surprised if the Wachowski siblings point to it as inspiration for the Matrix film trilogy. There are also references to "decks", which appear to be the interface through which cowboys access the matrix Ghost in the Shell style. I imagine they look like the computer Sam Flynn used in Tron: Legacy to access the Grid.

Sam Flynn in Tron: Legacy

Gibson has an interesting writing style that evokes a sense of longing for the future, which is bizarre considering the book is older than myself. However, as forward-thinking as most concepts are, some of his writing is dated. Not too much to take you out of his world, but just enough to make one think, "Wow, this would be incredible when updated for a film".

What I didn't like was his way of switching to another character's storyline at the beginning of most chapters and taking (what I felt was) far too long to let you know who the new focus was on. This forced me to re-read the beginning of several chapters in order to get the characters' inner voices to make sense in their respective environments. I don't know about you, but I mentally create voices for characters in novels based on their initial descriptions.

Like many futuristic books, this one explores corporate espionage, suspect scientific morals, the disillusionment of the rich, &c. Just fascinating stuff especially as the world seems to go in this direction IRL.

Count Zero is Paul-approved. 🕸