©2006 William Gibson; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
Discovering William Gibson and "The Sprawl Trilogy" as I fast approach forty, is like finding an unopened gift behind the Christmas tree, left there wrapped and undiscovered for the last 25 years. I'm kicking myself for not reading him earlier, but his writing is all the more amazing in 2011 for being so visionary in the mid 1980's. There are countless science fiction concepts he describes in this series that other writers have used for seeds of their own books or movies.
Jonathan Davis is brilliant as the narrator. I originally encountered Davis almost ten years ago as the narrator of Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash -- arguably my favorite audio book of all time. He does not disappoint here. All in all an astonishing creation.
I initially found this book to be the embodiment of tedium. I tried listening to it whilst on the go, which after all should be a major advantage of this format. This however proved to be anything but an advantage, as it was so easy to become distracted from the detail of the story and I often found myself zoning in and out of the narrative and wondering who these characters were. It wasn't until two hours from the end that I really got into the story and discovered that it was really rather exciting.
It held my interest right to the end and was so good that I felt compelled to listen to it again from the beginning and WOW! what a difference. I went from only persevering with it because I had paid for it to being reluctant to put it down. It was hard to believe that this was the same book and I was shocked at the amount of detail that I had initially missed. So if you decide that Count Zero is the biggest let down you have ever received from Audible as I did, then stick with it and maybe 're-read' it. You wont be disappointed.
Gibson writes with a very dense, thick weaving of concepts... artistically presented :) This early book is very easy to get into and pretty easy to follow (comparatively speaking). Almost plain English from a Gibson-ion fan sort of standpoint. BUT you will have to pay a little bit of attention until you get your feet under you. LOL. Three separate story lines converge, slowly. Very interesting story. Not terribly dated...but a tad...although not in a too jarring way if you are willing to let the story carry you along. I enjoyed it a LOT... but I'm not really "normal". Form your own opinion :)
Overall, I thought this was a pretty decent Sci-Fi book.
When reviewing science fiction books, the two aspects I consider are the strength of the story and novelty of the ideas introduced and how well they are developed.
The story did a decent job of inter-weaving multiple plot lines, but the characters could have been stronger. Gibson does a good job of creating his own slang, but sometimes relies on this too heavily in his dialog. It can make the dialog sound cool and futuristic, but once undressed, many of the spoken sentences are pretty simple and uninteresting.
The book explores interesting ideas related to different forms of computing, stronger interfaces with computers, and a practical religion tied to many modern issues. He does this better than many authors, but there are times where I would have liked him to explore a bit deeper.
I know this review sounds negative and nit-picky, but I did still very much enjoy this book and am giving it 4 stars.
It was really hard for me to follow what was going on. Gibson is a good writer, but his habit of telling stories from three or four different perspectives without given much backstory or exposition makes it tough to track what is happening. I was lost the first seven hours, and it was only until the second half of the book that I finally started to understand how the threads intertwined.
Gibson is a gifted writer, and Jonathan Davis captured the dark mood of the story. Even when I didn't know what was going on or where Count Zero was going, I kept listening.
This is a great book of the cyberpunk genre and a sequel to Neuromancer. Society as we know it has broken down, hackers (cowboys or cyberspace-deck-jockeys) and private security are being hired to do the bidding of multinational companies. AI, the matrix, advanced biotech... all kinds of cool stuff are going down. These are all forming the background to three interesting stories that converge into the same one.
Davis' narration is amazing. The intensity, the speed, the voices, the accents... it is perfect. It is essentially because of his narration that I listen to more audio books and have joined audible. (I would also recommend Snow Crash and the Windup Girl, also narrated by Davis)
One warning is that Gibson's writing is very dense. Gibson's cyberpunk jargon is in every sentence and concentration is needed in order to understand things. You may still get the overall story, but this kind of writing is quite clever and it is fun to fully understand where the terms are coming from, so I recommend that you listen to this audio book in a setting where you can fully concentrate and you can make use of the rewind and forward buttons sometimes. I do this while walking.
Overall: a great cyberpunk novel from 1986 that feels like it's from 2006 and an amazing narration.
I've read and listened to this novel many times and it's an amazing experience each time. I won't review the book but will only say that Jonathan Davis is quickly becoming one of my favorite narrators. His performance here was outstanding. The pacing and tone of each line read really set the mood and was very well done. He also did Mona Lisa Drive which was another great performance.
I hope they redo the Neuromancer one with Jonathan Davis not only for completeness and consistency but because I'd love to hear him do a reading of it. Neuromancer is coming up on its 30th anniversary, so please make it happen!
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
I haven't read Sprawl # 3 (Mona Lisa Overdrive), but after reading Neuromancer and now 'Count Zero', I think I will start referring to the Sprawl trilogy as the Sprawl Dialectic. 'Neuromancer' = Thesis. 'Count Zero' = Antithesis, so I guess I have to wait to see if 'Mona Lisa Overdrive' = Synthesis.
Gibson's warnings about cyberspace, the matrix, electronic hallucinations, corporate excess, etc., in 'Neuromancer' served only to codify/name the culture/future he was warning about. Instead of serving as a warning, Gibson ended up vibrating, slicking, sexing a whole webby nest of proto-cyberbabies into a real cyberpunk counter-culture. 'Count Zero' appears to be him trying again, but using a different tact. He spends less time with the easy, 'fun', matrix-fueled side of the future and instead spends more time examining the people, the fragments and residue of a dystopian future where corporations have become like people and computers and AI have become like gods.
Gibson trademarks, however, are still swarming all over 'Count Zero'. It is hard to read a page without a sentence where Gibson waxes poetic about an article of clothing, a fabric type, a piece of art, or a stylized way of wearing one's hair. But still, 'Count Zero' appears to be Gibson saying, yeah, that 'Neuromancer' book you are all so turned on about is fine, but it was an adolescent idea. Let me tell you the story again, but from another way, so you can understand that it isn't sexy, it isn't beautiful, it isn't glorious. The future is dangerous, manipulative, and has the potential to completely change our relationships with with each other, with art, with our history and even with our future. Let's just slow it down a bit and think.
I'm not sure if he changed the velocity of 'Neuromancer' or changed any minds, and I'm not sure 'Count Zero' was nearly as good a book (Not a 'Godfather, Part II'), but I'm glad he wrote it and it is interesting as a reader to see Gibson gain some real confidence in his art and his message.
I loved Neuromancer and had already read it before listening to the audiobook. I think this might have helped with Count Zero. The different plot threads get confusing in this format and that's more a testament to how densely Gibson writes. The performance was really good, but it was just much harder to follow than its predecessor. Like I said, this one might be better read than listened to.
The storyline of this book is right up my alley and I was excited to listen to it. Unfortunately I got so frustrated with the narrator's speed of speech that I had to stop listening. There are long "meaningful" pauses randomly in sentences making it hard to follow and concentrate.
I even attempted speeding up the playback speed to help, but this wasn't enough to cover up for the weird distracting pauses.
Very disappointed as I want to read this book, but this one will have to be read the traditional way for me so I can enjoy it.
"The matrix is here"
I really enjoyed the story line and the narration. There is a large part of the matrix here box makers and key makers. Great narration to. Off to listen to the last part of the story now.
Not as good as the first one but still a stunning book. My advice is to set the reader speed to 1.25 or 1.5. Amazing and brilliant Computer Sci Fi
"Couldn't listen to it"
The narrator is awful. Far far too slow. I gave up after 10 minutes
"a great book and an even greater audiobook"
It's hard to explain why I like so much William Gibson's books.In his language, in his narrative, in the pace of his stories, in his characters and in the situations he evokes, there is something that resonates with me and my personality.
Thanks to the audio version of WG's books, I can now listen to them while on the move, so as I walk the streets of London I can immerse myself in my favourite books.
You need to be careful crossing streets, negotiating a busy junction or a busy pavement.
Initially I had to get used to the style of narration, where there is one narrator for all the characters, but I appreciate the craft, the skills of Jonathan Davis and his ability to modulate his voice in a different way for each character, given each his or her (or its) own personality, it's own "mark", making them recognisable.
I found the experience excellent and the quality of the voice narration is so good that very rarely I had to go back in the story to reconnect with the narrative. The biggest problem I had in early attempts with audio books was "disconnecting" from listening the story and spawning a train of thoughts or an external event requiring higher attention and causing a disruptive distraction from the book. With this book and some discipline, I managed to stick to the story almost all the time and never get distracted.
I recommend this audiobook at many levels:
- because I love the book itself - and it's not just for SF fans, William Gibson is certainly much much more than a SF writer, he is one of those writers who leave a deep mark in the century(ies) they inhabit.
- because of the excellent quality of the audio and of the narration and the great voice of Jonathan Davis.
Book readers who approach for the first time audiobooks should be aware that they will have to invest their attention in a different way, and possibly find a new and revolutionary way to enjoy their favourite books while doing something else.
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