Count Zero

by William Gibson
Reviewed date: 2005 Sep 24
Rating: 2
246 pages
cover art

There is a reason I do not like cyberpunk: it isn't any good.

Cyberpunk is science fiction set in cyberspace. The heros are hackers and computer gurus, and the world revolves around virtual realities as much as it revolves around reality. Popular examples of cyberpunk include the movies Bladerunner and The Matrix.

Count Zero is the sequel to Neuromancer, the prototypical cyberpunk novel. Each of the three plot lines appears promising: A mercenary works to help a company researcher defect to another company, an uber-computer hacker called The Count stumbles across a deadly software package, and a disgraced art aficionado is hired to locate the designer of a mysterious piece of art. Much of action centers around virtual worlds, where hackers are heros and spend their time breaking into computer systems, stealing data, and wreaking havoc on the world economy. It's a sad, twisted dream come true for pathetic computer geeks.

In Count Zero William Gibson displays a remarkable ability to focus on the details of the plot without bothering to fill you in on the big idea. Some writers can do this skillfully, allowing the reader to figure out what is going on by examining the details. Gibson is not that skilled. Reading should be fun, it shouldn't be a series of aggravating treasure hunts to find out "What is the author not telling me now?"

William Gibson's Count Zero is a worse book than Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, and that's saying a lot: it's hard to get worse than a book whose hero and protagonist is named Hiro Protagonist. Count Zero scores a big fat two out of five, with no recommendation.

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