Top critical review
Fascinating, but leaves a hollow aftertaste
Reviewed in the United States on July 22, 2020
Admission -I did not like the Neuromancer. I usually remember the plots, and even whole sentences from books and short stories that I liked, but with Neuromancer I draw a blank. That's why I thought Gibson's short stories would be interesting to read. And initially they were, at least most of them. Gibson's technical writing skills are awesome and deserve five stars for sure. After a few stories, however, I felt uneasy. There are two weighty problems about the basic designs of the story - 1. Gibson describes, or better, wallows in his futuristic universe of software-hardware-biowere interfacing with added accents on psychoactive design drugs. His descriptions create a hype throwing various words that create atmosphere without really trying to get to the nitty-gritty and explain (at least some of it). Moreover, he creates an atmosphere in which an iconoclastic reader who might say "Come on. What did you really mean by that? Is it remotely possible or likely?" is posed as ignoramus and unbeliever. In a word, if you do not swim with this current, you're an old fuddy-duddy out of touch and out of grace. 2. Although the setting is 'the future according to Gibson', the skeleton underneath are the deathless motifs. Boy meets girls, boy loses girl, boy loses friend, greed is bad for your soul, etc, etc, etc. The tension is created not by waiting breathlessly for the hero's synapses to snap, but by a question as old as the world, will he/she score? I felt cheated when I realized that all that cyberspace is just a window dressing for our old spy story. Just substitute multinational behemoths or crime syndicates for evil government - and its Dr. No with electrodes. All said, I liked 'Fragments of Hologram Rose' best with 'Hinterlands' a close second, while 'Burning Chrome' is only so-so and 'Red Star' Winter Orbit' is definitely the last on the list and in my opinion shouldn't be in this anthology at all.