Book review: Count Zero

Book cover for Count Zero by William Gibson

The first, and only, William Gibson novel I’ve read is Neuromancer. It’s been nearly five years since I read it. I don’t remember a lot of details about the book. What I do remember is that I liked it a lot, and I was impressed by the amount of technology foreshadowing in the novel. The immersive cyberspace environment and human augmentation concepts that he wrote about back in 1984 were way ahead of their time. Those seemingly far-fetched concepts are close to becoming a reality today, if not here already.

Ever since finishing Neuromancer, I’ve wanted to read more of Gibson’s works. It’s taken a while for some reason or another, but I finally got around to it. So, for my second venture into Gibson’s extensive library, I choose to read the follow-up to Neuromancer, Count Zero.

Count Zero was published in 1986, two years after Neuromancer. While the science fiction foundations and environments are the same – cyberspace, human augmentation, The Sprawl – the story and characters are different. The technology basically serves as the only connection between the two books. In other words, if you haven’t read Neuromancer, you can still read and enjoy Count Zero.

As I vaguely remember with Neuromancer, Count Zero can be hard to follow at times. You have to stay engaged while reading the book in order to follow what is happening and where things are going. If you let your mind wander, you’ll find yourself getting lost pretty quickly.

Overall, I liked Count Zero. I may have liked Neuromancer better, but that doesn’t mean Count Zero is a bad book. It’s just, well, different. What I’ve liked about both of the Gibson books that I’ve read is their complexity and unique writing style. Gibson’s novels don’t follow the normal, formulaic plot lines I see in most books I read. Gibson also spends considerable time and effort building up the characters and the environment. The deeper you get into the story, the more you and your imagination become a part of the story.

I’m not going to put Count Zero into my Fun Reads or Must Reads category. I’m going to leave that to Neuromancer. However, if you are a fan of William Gibson and really enjoyed Neuromancer, then I would highly recommend Count Zero.

So while Count Zero may not have made one of my favorites lists, there is one thing I can say with certainty. I will definitely be reading more Gibson novels in the future.