Note — Feb 20, 2022

Okorafor, Palmer, and Gibson

Randomly, I happened on these three reviews of books by great authors in the same week. On Nnedi Okorafor’s Noor, Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota series (I finished the first one just hours ago and describing it as “a brilliant, ambitious, exhausting 25th-century epic,” as the author of the review does, is on the money), and a look back at Gibson’s Neuromancer.

Instead of picking one, and since all three include spoilers (although if you haven’t read Gibson’s almost forty-year-old novel yet, don’t blame me for spoilers!!), I’m just linking to all of them with one quote each. Note that unless you are incredibly anti-spoils, they are all readable anyway.

In the eye of the sandstorm: On Nnedi Okorafor’s Noor

Okorafor further notes, “I identify with that idea of viewing yourself as a cyborg. A lot of those ideas are what drive Noor, the idea of accepting and knowing what you are and choosing to move through the world on your own terms.”

Ada Palmer and the weird hand of progress
I’m with Voltaire here.

So what would Voltaire make of the modern world? Palmer likes to imagine him showing up in our time. “He would say, ‘Oh my God, you've eliminated smallpox, and look at your women, who are so alive and controlling their bodies! Divorce is so much easier; that's wonderful. And oh my God, you went to the moon, and science fiction is a whole giant genre! And everyone is mostly naked all the time. And geography is weird, and the continents are different, and Europe is one country in a confusing way, and you have Christian-Muslim religious wars and anti-vaxxers,’” Palmer says. He would be “amazed and delighted” and “curmudgeonly uncomfortable.”

William Gibson’s Neuromancer: Does the edge still bleed?

Everything he sees has layers of meaning and speaks of the past, the present, and the future all at once. […]

Gibson has a talent, evident in all his novels and stories, for observing and analyzing the strangeness of the life around us. He writes on the bleeding edge of everything he observes—technology, politics, human society and consciousness—and he extrapolates beyond that edge into a future created from observation of our own time, so the path to that future is strange but intelligible.