William Gibson: Count Zero (Paperback, 1987, Ace) 4 stars

Turner, corporate mercenary, wakes in a reconstructed body, a beautiful woman by his side. Then …

Enjoyed it more than Neuromancer

4 stars

I had bought the entire Sprawl trilogoy some time ago, together with Burning Chrome. I was quite lukewarm on Neuromancer so I had been putting Count Zero off for a while and only really got around to it after changing how I take things from my to-read shelf (no more putting things off!).

I definitely enjoyed this a lot more, and it solidified my feelings on what it was that prevented me from enjoying Neuromancer as much as I had hoped too.

While Neuromancer had only really one pov character, I found it really hard to orient myself while reading it. Locations seemed to change in a way that I found hazy and indistinct, too transient characters would appear and fade away, and I was never quite sure where we were or who anyone beyond the protagonist and Molly were. Tracking all of this required a level of attention that I honestly didn't really want to give, as I didn't find it rewarding to invest.

Count Zero splices together three points of view that converge at the end in a very satisfying way. But it is far clearer where we are and who is in the scene. There are still some parts, particularly with the mercenary, where there are a few too many characters introduced at once and not well differentiated from one another as they are all other mercs. Other than this though, Count Zero should be harder to follow, but it was very much the opposite. And it made it a lot easier to get into and enjoy.

Until the end, I felt that it was something that could have been enjoyed as a standalone work, but the climax wouldn't make much sense without the context of Neuromancer's climax.

There's definitely something really unique about Gibson's writing as well. I can't sum it up well, but the general sense of the world the characters inhabit as being overwhelming and something they are very much resigned to and powerless under comes across so well. Some really creative turns of phrase that I'm not used to from sci-fi (though it's not my main go-to, so this just could be lack of experience).

I've got a few things to go through before Mona Lisa Overdrive, but I'm looking forward to it much more after this.