Count Zero
April 17, 2008

Other years I have a fairly good rhythm reading books, but it seems that this year I’m going to have to do a hard effort even to read 12… I hope I can reach at least 18, but time will say.

Count ZeroOriginal title: Count Zero.
Spanish title: Conde Cero.
Author: William Gibson (USA, 1948 – ).
Year: 1986.
Genre: Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk.
Language: English.
Read in: English.
Publisher: HarperCollins – Voyager.
Pages: 336.
Size: 196 x 127 mm.
ISBN: 0-586-07121-0.

TresCinco

Plot outline
Bobby (Count Zero), a newbie hacker without any knowledge of what happens around him. Marly, involved in an art scam while she was owner of a small art gallery. And Turner, a mercenary working for a Japanese corporation. All of them live their own life (and stories) trying to subsist in a hi-tech world dominated by greedy corporations.

Comment without spoilers
Count Zero is part of William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy, which comprehend the first three novels of the author (Neuromancer ES, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive), and which have culturally influenced a lot of later works in films, books, sculptures and music.

The narrative rhythm is quite light for being one of Gibson’s early novels, but there’s still the presence of dense descriptions of people, objects and events. Also, I found Count Zero easy to read, as opposite to Neuromancer. But I think that it’s because while a main part of the previous novel were the technological achievements imagined by Gibson, this one is more focused in relationships between people and corporations.

One thing that helped a lot to be trapped by this novel is the fact that the story is told from 3 different points of view, jumping from one to the other in each chapter, making you curious of what’s going to happen in one part while you’re reading other. Unfortunately, having so much to tell in so few pages, makes the ending of the book look somewhat sudden and abrupt, more or less like in Dune… and that’s a pity.

The characters in this novel are very well defined since the very beginning, with the good point that they have either a strong charisma, or is very easy to sympathise with them, or both at the same time. However, a drawback I see is that some of them are very stereotypical, removing some of the originality that characterizes Gibson works.

The background of the story, in spite of being heavily built over the ones of Neuromancer and Johnny Mnemonic (with which it shares the same dystopic future world), is completely self-sufficient, and it even adds new layers and environments that weren’t previously treated by the author.

The edition by Voyager is decent, with a fairly robust book, not very dark pages and a fine printing. Also, I have to say that the cover showed in this post in not the one of the book I have, but here I have no scanner and I couldn’t fine a good quality scan. Anyway, at least it matches the style of my Neuromancer and Mona Lisa Overdrive editions.

I enjoyed this book, and going back to the Neuromancer world, which I find fascinating, was great; but I don’t recommend to read this book if you haven’t read the previous one, despite the fact that they’re very independent and self conclusive. Anyway, if you’ve read Neuromancer, just go for it.

As I’m writing this lines, I’ve just finished the last book of the Sprawl trilogy (Mona Lisa Overdrive), and I hope to be able to post my comment soon.

William Gibson:

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