Neuromancer [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus- hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace . . .

Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employees crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister ...
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Neuromancer

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Overview

The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus- hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace . . .

Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employees crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction.

Hotwired to the leading edges of art and technology, Neuromancer ranks with 1984 and Brave New World as one of the century's most potent visions of the future.
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Editorial Reviews

Gerald Jonas
The 21st-century world of ''Neuromancer'' is freshly imagined, compellingly detailed and chilling in its implications....Mr. Gibson's style is all flash, and his characters are all pose without substance....The story moves faster than the speed of thought, but even when I wasn't sure what was happening, I felt confident that Mr. Gibson would pull me through, and he did. The ''cyberspace'' conceit allows him to dramatize computer hacking in nontechnical language, although I wonder how much his somewhat florid descriptions of the ''bodiless exultation of cyberspace'' will mean to readers who have not experienced the illusion of power that punching the keyboard of even a dinky little word-processor can give. (P.S. I still think ''Neuromancer'' is a terrible title.) -- New York Times
Gale Research
Combining the hip cynicism of the rock music underground and the dizzying powers of high technology, the novel was hailed as the prototype of a new style of writing, promptly dubbed "cyberpunk." Gibson, who was also earning praise as a skillful prose stylist, disliked the trendy label but admitted that he was challenging science fiction traditions. "I'm not even sure what cyberpunk means," he told thePhiladelphia Inquirer, "but I suppose it's useful as a tip-off to people that what they're going to read is a little wilder."
Publishers Weekly
William Gibson fans will welcome the 20th-anniversary edition of Neuromancer, the SF novel that launched cyberpunk and anticipated the Internet age. Gibson provides a new introduction, "The Sky Above the Port." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Neuromancer is a fitting commemoration of the tenth anniversary of publication of Gibson's Nebula, Hugo, and Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel. The text is abridged, read by the author, and enhanced with music, sound effects, and other audio engineering. The plot contains sex, drugs, black market body parts, virtual reality, electronic relationships, pleasure palaces, murder, mayhem, cloned assassins, and intrigue in cyberspace, with nary a virtual nice guy in the mix. Wow! There's just enough time to take a deep breath between cassettes, as the listener is bombarded with strong language, tumultuous violence, and compelling imagery. Terrific stuff. Gibson's horrifying vision of our terrible headlong rush to nowhere is a must for science fiction and adult fiction collections.-Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., Ohio
Rolling Stone Magazine
Gibson has revitalized science fiction as no other single force in a generation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101146460
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/1/2000
  • Series: Sprawl Trilogy Series , #1
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 9,990
  • File size: 587 KB

Meet the Author

Gene Wolfe once said that being an only child whose parents are dead is like being the sole survivor of drowned Atlantis. There was a whole civilization there, an entire continent, but it’s gone. And you alone remember. That’s my story too, my father having died when I was six, my mother when I was eighteen. Brian Aldiss believes that if you look at the life of any novelist, you’ll find an early traumatic break, and mine seems no exception.



I was born on the coast of South Carolina, where my parents liked to vacation when there was almost nothing there at all. My father was in some sort of middle management position in a large and growing construction company. They’d built some of the Oak Ridge atomic facilities, and paranoiac legends of “security” at Oak Ridge were part of our family culture. There was a cigar-box full of strange-looking ID badges he’d worn there. But he’d done well at Oak Ridge, evidently, and so had the company he worked for, and in the postwar South they were busy building entire red brick Levitown-style suburbs. We moved a lot, following these projects, and he was frequently away, scouting for new ones.



It was a world of early television, a new Oldsmobile with crazy rocket-ship styling, toys with science fiction themes. Then my father went off on one more business trip. He never came back. He choked on something in a restaurant, the Heimlich maneuver hadn’t been discovered yet, and everything changed.




My mother took me back to the small town in southwestern Virginia where both she and my father were from, a place where modernity had arrived to some extent but was deeply distrusted. The trauma of my father’s death aside, I’m convinced that it was this experience of feeling abruptly exiled, to what seemed like the past, that began my relationship with science fiction.


I eventually became exactly the sort of introverted, hyper-bookish boy you’ll find in the biographies of most American science fiction writers, obsessively filling shelves with paperbacks and digest-sized magazines, dreaming of one day becoming a writer myself.


At age fifteen, my chronically anxious and depressive mother having demonstrated an uncharacteristic burst of common sense in what today we call parenting, I was shipped off to a private boys’ school in Arizona. There, extracted grub-like and blinking from my bedroom and those bulging plywood shelves, I began the forced invention of a less Lovecraftian persona – based in large part on a chance literary discovery a year or so before.



I had stumbled, in my ceaseless quest for more and/or better science fiction, on a writer name Burroughs -- not Edgar Rice but William S., and with him had come his colleagues Kerouac and Ginsberg. I had read this stuff, or tried to, with no idea at all of what it might mean, and felt compelled – compelled to what, I didn’t know. The effect, over the next few years, was to make me, at least in terms of my Virginia home, Patient Zero of what would later be called the counterculture. At the time, I had no way of knowing that millions of other Boomer babes, changelings all, were undergoing the same metamorphosis.



In Arizona, science fiction was put aside with other childish things, as I set about negotiating puberty and trying on alternate personae with all the urgency and clumsiness that come with that, and was actually getting somewhere, I think, when my mother died with stunning suddenness. Dropped literally dead: the descent of an Other Shoe I’d been anticipating since age six.



Thereafter, probably needless to say, things didn’t seem to go very well for quite a while. I left my school without graduating, joined up with rest of the Children’s Crusade of the day, and shortly found my self in Canada, a country I knew almost nothing about. I concentrated on evading the draft and staying alive, while trying to make sure I looked like I was at least enjoying the Summer of Love. I did literally evade the draft, as they never bothered drafting me, and have lived here in Canada, more or less, ever since.



Having ridden out the crest of the Sixties in Toronto, aside from a brief, riot-torn spell in the District of Columbia, I met a girl from Vancouver, went off to Europe with her (concentrating on countries with fascist regimes and highly favorable rates of exchange) got married, and moved to British Columbia, where I watched the hot fat of the Sixties congeal as I earned a desultory bachelor’s degree in English at UBC.



In 1977, facing first-time parenthood and an absolute lack of enthusiasm for anything like “career”, I found myself dusting off my twelve-year-old’s interest in science fiction. Simultaneously, weird noises were being heard from New York and London. I took Punk to be the detonation of some slow-fused projectile buried deep in society’s flank a decade earlier, and I took it to be, somehow, a sign. And I began, then, to write.




And have been, ever since.




Google me and you can learn that I do it all on a manual typewriter, something that hasn’t been true since 1985, but which makes such an easy hook for a lazy journalist that I expect to be reading it for the rest of my life. I only used a typewriter because that was what everyone used in 1977, and it was manual because that was what I happened to have been able to get, for free. I did avoid the Internet, but only until the advent of the Web turned it into such a magnificent opportunity to waste time that I could no longer resist. Today I probably spend as much time there as I do anywhere, although the really peculiar thing about me, demographically, is that I probably watch less than twelve hours of television in a given year, and have watched that little since age fifteen. (An individual who watches no television is still a scarcer beast than one who doesn’t have an email address.) I have no idea how that happened. It wasn’t a decision.




I do have an email address, yes, but, no, I won’t give it to you. I am one and you are many, and even if you are, say, twenty-seven in grand global total, that’s still too many. Because I need to have a life and waste time and write.




I suspect I have spent just about exactly as much time actually writing as the average person my age has spent watching television, and that, as much as anything, may be the real secret here.



























Biography

Science fiction owes an enormous debt to William Gibson, the cyberpunk pioneer who revolutionized the genre with his startling stories of tough, alienated loners adrift in a world of sinister high technology.

Gibson was born in Conway, South Carolina, and spent much of his youth in Virginia with his widowed mother. He grew up shy and bookish, discovering science fiction and the literature of the beats at a precociously early age. When he was 15, he was sent away to private school in Arizona, but he left without graduating when his mother died suddenly. He fled to Canada to avoid the draft and immersed himself in '60s counterculture. He married, moved to British Columbia, and enrolled in college, graduating in 1977 with a degree in English. Around this time he began to write in earnest, combining his lifelong love of science fiction and his newfound passion for the punk music evolving in New York and London.

In the early 1980s, Gibson met writer and punk musician John Shirley and sci-fi authors Lewis Shiner and Bruce Sterling. All three were blown away by the power and originality of Gibson's stories, and together the four men went on to forge a radical new literary movement called cyberpunk. In 1984, Gibson's groundbreaking first novel, Neuromancer, was published. Daring and revolutionary, it envisioned such techno-marvels as AI, virtual reality, genetic engineering, and multinational capitalism years before they became realities. Although it was not an immediate sensation, Neuromancer struck a chord with hardcore sci-fi fans who turned it into a word-of-mouth hit. Then it won the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards (the Triple Crown of Science Fiction), catapulting Gibson into superstardom overnight.

Even if he had never written another word, Gibson's impact would be clearly seen in the works of such cutting-edge contemporary authors as Neal Stephenson, Pat Cadigan, and Paul DiFilippo. But, as it is, Neuromancer was just the beginning -- the first book in an inspired trilogy that has come to be considered a benchmark in the history of the genre; and since then, Gibson has gone on to create even more visionary science fiction, including The Difference Engine, a steampunk classic co-authored with Bruce Sterling, and such imaginative post-9/11 cyber thrillers as Pattern Recognition and Spook Country .

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    1. Also Known As:
      William Ford Gibson (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 17, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Conway, South Carolina
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of British Columbia, 1977

Read an Excerpt

The Sky Above The Port

By

William Gibson

             It took at least a decade for me to realize that many of my readers, even in 1984, could never have experienced Neuromancer’s opening line as I’d intended them to. I’d actually composed that first image with the black-and-white video-static of my childhood in mind, sodium-silvery and almost painful—a whopping anachronism, right at the very start of my career in the imaginary future.

             But an invisible one, interestingly; one that reveals a peculiar grace enjoyed by all imaginary futures as they make their way up the timeline and into the real future, where we all must go. The reader never stopped to think that I might have been thinking, however unconsciously, of the texture and color of a signal-free channel on a wooden-cabinet Motorola with fabric-covered speakers. Readers compensated for me, shouldering an additional share of the imaginative burden, and allowed whatever they assumed was the color of static to take on the melancholy of the phrase “dead channel”.

             In my teens, in the Sixties, I read a great deal of science fiction dating from the Forties, a very fertile period for the genre, and recall being aware of making just this sort of effort on behalf of fictions that had grown a bit long in the technological tooth, or whose imagined futures had been blindsided by subsequent history. I cut such fictions just the sort of extra slack, in exchange for whatever other value the narrative might offer, that some readers must be cutting Neuromancer today––not for invisible anachronisms like my color of television, but for unavoidable sins of omission on the order of a complete absence of tiny and ubiquitous portable telephones. (Indeed, one of my own favorite moments in the book hinges around the sequenced ringing of a row of pay-phones.

             Imagine a novel from the Sixties whose author had somehow fully envisioned cellular telephony circa 2004, and had worked it, exactly as we know it today, into the fabric of her imaginary future. Such a book would have seemed highly peculiar in the Sixties, even though innumerable novels had already been written in which small personal wireless communications devices were taken for granted. A genuinely prescient cell-phone novel would have moved in a most unsettling way, its characters acting, out of an unprecedented degree of connectivity, in ways that would quickly overwhelm the narrative. 

             In hindsight, I suspect that Neuromancer owes much of its shelf-life to my almost perfect ignorance of the technology I was extrapolating from. I was as far from the Sixties author who knew everything about cell-phones as it was possible to be. Where I made things up from whole cloth, the colors remain bright. Where I was unlucky enough to actually have some small bit of real knowledge, the reader finds things like the rattling keys of a mechanical printer, or Case’s puzzlingly urgent demand, when the going gets tough, for a modem. Unlike the absence of cell-phones, those are sins of commission. Another vast omission is my failure to have quietly collapsed the Soviet Union and swept the rubble offstage when nobody was looking.

             Though there was a strategic reason for my not having done that. I had already done it to the United States, which cannot be proven to exist in the world of Neuromancer. It’s deliberately never mentioned as such, and one vaguely gathers that it’s somehow gone sideways in a puff of what we today would call globalization, to be replaced by some less dangerous combine of large corporations and city-states. Having disappeared the USA, I though I’d better have the USSR in there for the sake of continuity. (Had I disappeared the USSR instead, I might eventually have been burned as a witch, so just as well.)

             Today’s reader might keep in mind that I wrote Neuromancer with absolutely no expectation that it would be in print twenty years later. I knew that it was to be published, if I could finish it and if the editor accepted the manuscript, both of which seemed constantly unlikely, as a paperback original—that most ephemeral of literary units, a pocket-sized slab of prose meant to fit a standard wire rack, printed on high-acid paper and visibly yearning to return to the crude pulp from which it had been pressed. My best hope for the book was that it might find, in whatever modest numbers it would have its debut, some kindred soul or five. Probably in England, as I imagined them, or perhaps in France. I didn’t anticipate much in the way of an American audience, because I felt that I was writing too deliberately counter to what I had come to assume the American audience had been taught to want from science fiction.

             I was doing this because I couldn’t for the life of me seem to do it any other way. Having been talked into signing a contract (by the late Terry Carr, without whom there would certainly be no Neuromancer) I found myself possessed by a dissident attitude that I certainly wasn’t about to share with my editor, or really with much of anyone. The only people who got that were a few of the other tyro writers with whom I would eventually be labeled “cyberpunk”, and they were far away, mostly in Austin TX.

             Like Case at the book’s climax, I was coming in steep, fuelled by…;I couldn’t have to told you, though one element was a smoldering resentment at what the genre I’d loved as a teenager seemed to me in the meantime to have become. Though I know I had neither the intention nor the least hope that what I was doing, tapping out my Ace Special paperback original on an aged manual portable of precision Swiss manufacture, would in any way change the course of science fiction. (Nor did it, apparently, except to the extent of helping to keep open doors I certainly never built, doors I’d found as a teenager, with names like “Bester” and “Leiber” gouged into their lintels.)

             I was recently told that Neuromancer has sold more than a million copies. That would be over the past two decades, and I assume in either North American editions or English-language editions. Abroad, it’s managed to get itself translated into most of the languages books are translated into, though not yet, as far as I know, Chinese or Arabic.

This is something like having an adult child one never hears from, but who evidently does quite well, travels widely, and seems to meet interesting people.

             My real sympathy, though, is with the bright thirteen-year-old curled on a sofa somewhere, twenty pages into the book and desperate to get to the root of the mystery of why cell-phones aren’t allowed in Chiba City.

Hang in there, friend.

It can only get stranger.

                                     —Vancouver BC 5 17 04

CHIBA  CITY BLUES

one

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

“It’s not like I’m using,” Case heard someone say, as he shouldered his way through the crowd around the door of the Chat. “It’s like my body’s developed this massive drug deficiency.” It was a Sprawl voice and a Sprawl joke. The Chatsubo was a bar for professional expatriates; you could drink there for a week and never hear two words in Japanese.

Ratz was tending bar, his prosthetic arm jerking monotonously as he filled a tray of glasses with draft  Kirin. He saw Case and smiled, his teeth a webwork of East European steel and brown decay. Case found a place at the bar, between the unlikely tan on one of Lonny Zone’s whores and the crisp naval uniform of a tall African whose cheekbones were ridged with precise rows of tribal scars. “Wage was in here early, with two joeboys,” Ratz said, shoving a draft across the bar with his good hand. “Maybe some business with you, Case?”

Case shrugged. The girl to his right giggled and nudged him.

The bartender’s smile widened. His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it. The antique arm whined as he reached for another mug. It was a Russian military prosthesis, a seven-function force-feedback manipulator, cased in grubby pink plastic. “You are too much the artiste, Herr Case.” Ratz grunted; the sound served him as laughter. He scratched his overhang of white-shirted belly with the pink claw. “You are the artiste of the slightly funny deal.”

“Sure,” Case said, and sipped his beer. “Somebody’s gotta be funny around here. Sure the fuck isn’t you.”

The whore’s giggle went up an octave.

“Isn’t you either, sister. So you vanish, okay? Zone, he’s a close personal friend of mine.”

She looked Case in the eye and made the softest possible spitting sound, her lips barely moving. But she left.

“Jesus,” Case said, “what kinda creepjoint you running here? Man can’t have a drink.”

“Ha,” Ratz said, swabbing the scarred wood with a rag. “Zone shows a percentage. You I let work here for entertainment value.”

As Case was picking up his beer, one of those strange instants of silence descended, as though a hundred unrelated conversations had simultaneously arrived at the same pause. Then the whore’s giggle rang out, tinged with a certain hysteria.

Ratz grunted. “An angel passed.”

“The Chinese,” bellowed a drunken Australian, “Chinese bloody invented nerve-splicing. Give me the mainland for a nerve job any day. Fix you right, mate....”

“Now that,” Case said to his glass, all his bitterness suddenly rising in him like bile, “that is so much bullshit.”

The Japanese had already forgotten more neurosurgery than the Chinese had ever known. The black clinics of Chiba were the cutting edge, whole bodies of technique supplanted monthly, and still they couldn’t repair the damage he’d suffered in that Memphis hotel.

A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he’d cut in Night City, and still he’d see the matrix in his sleep, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colorless void....The Sprawl was a long strange way home over the Pacific now, and he was no console man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, his hands clawed into the bedslab, temperfoam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn’t there.

“I saw your girl last night,” Ratz said, passing Case his second  Kirin.

“I don’t have one,” he said, and drank.

“Miss Linda Lee.”

Case shook his head.

“No girl? Nothing? Only biz, friend artiste? Dedication to commerce?” The bartender’s small brown eyes were nested deep in wrinkled flesh. “I think I liked you better, with her. You laughed more. Now, some night, you get maybe too artistic; you wind up in the clinic tanks, spare parts.”

“You’re breaking my heart, Ratz.” He finished his beer, paid and left, high narrow shoulders hunched beneath the rain-stained khaki nylon of his windbreaker. Threading his way through the Ninsei crowds, he could smell his own stale sweat.

Case was twenty-four. At twenty-two, he’d been a cowboy, a rustler, one of the best in the Sprawl. He’d been trained by the best, by McCoy Pauley and Bobby Quine, legends in the biz. He’d operated on an almost permanent adrenaline high, a byproduct of youth and proficiency, jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination that was the matrix. A thief, he’d worked for other, wealthier thieves, employers who provided the exotic software required to penetrate the bright walls of corporate systems, opening windows into rich fields of data.

He’d made the classic mistake, the one he’d sworn he’d never make. He stole from his employers. He kept something for himself and tried to move it through a fence in  Amsterdam. He still wasn’t sure how he’d been discovered, not that it mattered now. He’d expected to die, then, but they only smiled. Of course he was welcome, they told him, welcome to the money. And he was going to need it. Because––still smiling––they were going to make sure he never worked again.

They damaged his nervous system with a wartime Russian mycotoxin.

Strapped to a bed in a  Memphis hotel, his talent burning out micron by micron, he hallucinated for thirty hours.

The damage was minute, subtle, and utterly effective.

For Case, who’d lived for the bodiless exultation of cyberspace, it was the Fall. In the bars he’d frequented as a cowboy hotshot, the elite stance involved a certain relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was meat. Case fell into the prison of his own flesh.

His total assets were quickly converted to New Yen, a fat sheaf of the old paper currency that circulated endlessly through the closed circuit of the world’s black markets like the seashells of the Trobriand islanders. It was difficult to transact legitimate business with cash in the Sprawl; in  Japan, it was already illegal.

In  Japan, he’d known with a clenched and absolute certainty, he’d find his cure. In Chiba. Either in a registered clinic or in the shadowland of black medicine. Synonymous with implants, nerve-splicing, and microbionics, Chiba was a magnet for the Sprawl’s techno-criminal subcultures.

In  Chiba, he’d watched his New Yen vanish in a two-month round of examinations and consultations. The men in the black clinics, his last hope, had admired the expertise with which he’d been maimed, and then slowly shaken their heads.

Now he slept in the cheapest coffins, the ones nearest the port, beneath the quartz-halogen floods that lit the docks all night like vast stages; where you couldn’t see the lights of Tokyo for the glare of the television sky, not even the towering hologram logo of the Fuji Electric Company, and Tokyo Bay was a black expanse where gulls wheeled above drifting shoals of white styrofoam. Behind the port lay the city, factory domes dominated by the vast cubes of corporate arcologies. Port and city were divided by a narrow borderland of older streets, an area with no official name.  Night City, with Ninsei its heart. By day, the bars down Ninsei were shuttered and featureless, the neon dead, the holograms inert, waiting, under the poisoned silver sky.

Two blocks west of the Chat, in a teashop called the Jarre de The, Case washed down the night’s first pill with a double espresso. It was a flat pink octagon, a potent species of Brazilian dex he bought from one of Zone’s girls.

The Jarre was walled with mirrors, each panel framed in red neon.

At first, finding himself alone in Chiba, with little money and less hope of finding a cure, he’d gone into a kind of terminal overdrive, hustling fresh capital with a cold intensity that had seemed to belong to someone else. In the first month, he’d killed two men and a woman over sums that a year before would have seemed ludicrous. Ninsei wore him down until the street itself came to seem the externalization of some death wish, some secret poison he hadn’t known he carried.

Night  City was like a deranged experiment in social Darwinism, designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button. Stop hustling and you sank without a trace, but move a little too swiftly and you’d break the fragile surface tension of the black market; either way, you were gone, with nothing left of you but some vague memory in the mind of a fixture like Ratz, though heart or lungs or kidneys might survive in the service of some stranger with New Yen for the clinic tanks.

Biz here was a constant subliminal hum, and death the accepted punishment for laziness, carelessness, lack of grace, the failure to heed the demands of an intricate protocol.

Alone at a table in the Jarre de The, with the octagon coming on, pinheads of sweat starting from his palms, suddenly aware of each tingling hair on his arms and chest, Case knew that at some point he’d started to play a game with himself, a very ancient one that has no name, a final solitaire. He no longer carried a weapon, no longer took the basic precautions. He ran the fastest, loosest deals on the street, and he had a reputation for being able to get whatever you wanted. A part of him knew that the arc of his self-destruction was glaringly obvious to his customers, who grew steadily fewer, but that same part of him basked in the knowledge that it was only a matter of time. And that was the part of him, smug in its expectation of death, that most hated the thought of Linda Lee.

He’d found her, one rainy night, in an arcade.

Under bright ghosts burning through a blue haze of cigarette smoke, holograms of Wizard’s Castle, Tank War Europa, the New York skyline....And now he remembered her that way, her face bathed in restless laser light, features reduced to a code: her cheekbones flaring scarlet as Wizard’s Castle burned, forehead drenched with azure when Munich fell to the Tank War, mouth touched with hot gold as a gliding cursor struck sparks from the wall of a skyscraper canyon. He was riding high that night, with a brick of Wage’s ketamine on its way to  Yokohama and the money already in his pocket. He’d come in out of the warm rain that sizzled across the Ninsei pavement and somehow she’d been singled out for him, one face out of the dozens who stood at the consoles, lost in the game she played. The expression on her face, then, had been the one he’d seen, hours later, on her sleeping face in a portside coffin, her upper lip like the line children draw to represent a bird in flight.

Crossing the arcade to stand beside her, high on the deal he’d made, he saw her glance up. Gray eyes rimmed with smudged black paintstick. Eyes of some animal pinned in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.

Their night together stretching into a morning, into tickets at the hoverport and his first trip across the Bay. The rain kept up, falling along Harajuku, beading on her plastic jacket, the children of  Tokyo trooping past the famous boutiques in white loafers and clingwrap capes, until she’d stood with him in the midnight clatter of a pachinko parlor and held his hand like a child.

It took a month for the gestalt of drugs and tension he moved through to turn those perpetually startled eyes into wells of reflexive need. He’d watched her personality fragment, calving like an iceberg, splinters drifting away, and finally he’d seen the raw need, the hungry armature of addiction. He’d watched her track the next hit with a concentration that reminded him of the mantises they sold in stalls along Shiga, beside tanks of blue mutant carp and crickets caged in bamboo.

He stared at the black ring of grounds in his empty cup. It was vibrating with the speed he’d taken. The brown laminate of the tabletop was dull with a patina of tiny scratches. With the dex mounting through his spine he saw the countless random impacts required to create a surface like that. The Jarre was decorated in a dated, nameless style from the previous century, an uneasy blend of Japanese traditional and pale Milanese plastics, but everything seemed to wear a subtle film, as though the bad nerves of a million customers had somehow attacked the mirrors and the once glossy plastics, leaving each surface fogged with something that could never be wiped away.

“Hey. Case, good buddy....”

He looked up, met gray eyes ringed with paintstick. She was wearing faded French orbital fatigues and new white sneakers.

“I been lookin’ for you, man.” She took a seat opposite him, her elbows on the table. The sleeves of the blue zipsuit had been ripped out at the shoulders; he automatically checked her arms for signs of derms or the needle. “Want a cigarette?”

She dug a crumpled pack of Yeheyuan filters from an ankle pocket and offered him one. He took it, let her light it with a red plastic tube. “You sleepin’ okay, Case? You look tired.” Her accent put her south along the Sprawl, toward  Atlanta. The skin below her eyes was pale and unhealthy-looking, but the flesh was still smooth and firm. She was twenty. New lines of pain were starting to etch themselves permanently at the corners of her mouth. Her dark hair was drawn back, held by a band of printed silk. The pattern might have represented microcircuits, or a city map.

“Not if I remember to take my pills,” he said, as a tangible wave of longing hit him, lust and loneliness riding in on the wavelength of amphetamine. He remembered the smell of her skin in the overheated darkness of a coffin near the port, her fingers locked across the small of his back.

All the meat, he thought, and all it wants.

“Wage,” she said, narrowing her eyes. “He wants to see you with a hole in your face.” She lit her own cigarette.

“Who says? Ratz? You been talking to Ratz?”

“No. Mona. Her new squeeze is one of Wage’s boys.”

“I don’t owe him enough. He does me, he’s out the money anyway.” He shrugged.

“Too many people owe him now, Case. Maybe you get to be the example. You seriously better watch it.”

“Sure. How about you, Linda? You got anywhere to sleep?”

“Sleep.” She shook her head. “Sure, Case.” She shivered, hunched forward over the table. Her face was filmed with sweat.

“Here,” he said, and dug in the pocket of his windbreaker, coming up with a crumpled fifty. He smoothed it automatically, under the table, folded it in quarters, and passed it to her.

“You need that, honey. You better give it to Wage.” There was something in the gray eyes now that he couldn’t read, something he’d never seen there before.

“I owe Wage a lot more than that. Take it. I got more coming,” he lied, as he watched his New Yen vanish into a zippered pocket.

“You get your money, Case, you find Wage quick.”

“I’ll see you, Linda,” he said, getting up.

“Sure.” A millimeter of white showed beneath each of her pupils. Sanpaku. “You watch your back, man.”

He nodded, anxious to be gone.

He looked back as the plastic door swung shut behind him, saw her eyes reflected in a cage of red neon.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 364 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 364 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    The best kind of Sci-fi...imo

    First off, I have to say that I was introduced to this novel by seeing, loving and researching The Matrix. I believe that the movie was just absolutely fantastic and amazing and any other adjective that I can think of (Just not at the moment). So, I picked up this book from the library to see what it was all about.<BR/>It was pretty good basically sums it up. It had innovative settings and ideas and was generally awesome all around, but I just didn't like how sometimes certain technologies were never explained or were only barely mentioned. That's fine if it is just mentioned in passing, but when you linger on them and detail them without saying what they actually do, that kind of frustrated me.<BR/>Other than that, this book was what I like to call perfect. Everything about it was expertly crafted and written, and I highly recommend it to people interested in cyperbunk or just basic science fiction. I will be getting a copy for my own library.

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Neuromancer: Escape into Cyberpunk's Roots.

    Neuromancer should be on the top of any Sci-fi fans must read list. What can you say about a book that launched an entire sub-genre of literature? With a breakthrough image of the future that we become a little closer to each day, William Gibson has inspired his fellow authors, futurists, and tech guru's since the day it was published. How many other works of art have reached a level of influence that in spawns a whole world with its own spinoffs in the works of Shadowrun?

    Read it. If you have ever dreamed of the future, wanted to see the internet you surf, or use technology to make yourself a better YOU Neuromancer contains all of that and more.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent book

    For years I'd heard about what a great book this is, and how it was one of the defining novels of cyberpunk. Unfortunately, I was not interested in cyberpunk, or Neuromancer. Recently, however, my attitude changed, and decided to pick it up. I'm sorry I waited so long.

    Neuromancer is, almost 30 years after it was published, still refreshingly original. Having read it, I can see the influence it's had on other books and movies, yet it feels different from all of its "offspring." Now that I've finished it, what began as a passing interest, "to see what it's all about," has grown into a deep fascination, and I'm looking forward to picking up more of Gibson's books.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A classic, by all accounts.

    Neuromancer is by no means a long novel, it is under 400 pages composed of many short chapters; this does not mean it is anything like an "easy read."

    Gibson consistently uses words that laymen, or persons-not-from-the-future, will not know in context. Reading this book today the reader most likely feels as if he's missed some crucial background info, possibly a predecessor to the novel that he didn't know existed, but that is not the case with Neuromancer. Throughout the book Gibson weaves his tale while not divulging every detail or aspect about it. By giving the reader a very narrow realistic view, through the eyes of the protagonist, and using technical jargon not invented yet the reader is almost coerced to put himself into the story and try to unravel what is taking place. All of this can make for a confusing read to many readers- and the brilliance of Gibson's work can easily be overlooked.

    I cannot recommend this book for everyone or even avid fans of science fiction. I can only say that I view it as an important book in the history of the science fiction genre and look at it as progenitor to other great masterpieces such as Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson.

    The story of Neuromancer is exciting but difficult to follow if it fails to grab your attention thoroughly. It won't be uncommon to get confused by the plot while reading Neuromancer but as long as you're attentive and keep reading any conflict should resolve itself as the story unfolds. If you're a science fiction fan looking for a challenging read and interested in a classic then you should pick up Neuromancer.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2012

    Fantastic book

    While at times i had to stop and read a paragraph or two over, it was still an understandable and entertaining book. I would definitely recommend to a sci-fi fan, but i think any of the newer generations can appreciate it

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2007

    Choppy story

    I only got about half-way through this book. It reminded me a lot of trying to read Gravity's Rainbow where the writing at times was so choppy that I only ever had a vague idea of what was going on. I read several passages a few times and couldn't help but wonder what exactly had happened or why. If you read books by scimming along and getting the general idea of things as you go, then this won't bother you and for that, I'll say it's a neat sci-fi premise.

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Every bit as good as they say.

    This one's a classic for a reason. This is the book that spawned Cyberpunk, and includes the seeds of ideas that would give us Bladerunner (Do Androids Dream), and eventually The Matrix. So revolutionary that things I've loved have been cribbing off it for years without my knowledge. Good to finally be able to give credit where it's due!

    This one's a must read, whether you're in it for the detective story, the action, or the cybernetic enhancements. Great stuff.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Best ccyberpunk novel of all time

    anyone who says this is a bad book can punch themselves

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Neuromancer

    The most important thing to keep in mind when reading 'Neuromancer' is that it was the first to do what it does. Before there was the Matrix trilogy, before iPods and 3D broadcasting home televisions, there was 'Neuromancer'. Written at the same time the very first home PC was released, Gibson envisioned a vast network of connected information called 'cyberspace'. People who sought to break into the databases of others would use their technical skills to link up with the Matrix and and break through layers of ICE to steal information. So basically, Gibson envisioned the internet as we know it, hackers and firewalls. The writing itself is actually pretty confusing. This is also the book that created the genre of cyber-punk, so it is very technically laden and can be mind boggling at times. The story itself is pretty interesting about an AI that seeks autonomy. The characters aren't all that original, in fact almost all of them feel like stereotypical mid 80's action film characters. Perhaps with the exception of the psychotic Riviera. I chose to read 'Neuromancer' because of all the reviews that referred to it as a mind bender. To that I must disagree. I will say that one chapter is VERY mind bending, but the rest, not so much; pretty straight forward actually. But that also may be me viewing the story through the lens of someone who has lived with things like the internet for most of my life. Either way, it is still a good book and an easy read for the most part.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2003

    Err...best cyber-punk novel ever?

    Well, I bought this book because of the numerous awards it recieved (Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick awards), thinking it couldn't be half bad, and it might even revive my waning love of SF. Well, I think it might've nailed the coffin shut. This is the first 'Cyber-punk' novel I've ever read, and probably my last. I actually started this novel ,like, half a year ago and stopped cuz I had no idea what was going on. Well, I finally finished it, still having no idea what it was about. The only reason why I'm giving it three stars is because of the lyrical, almost poetic prose that William Gibson has going on for him. His diction is truly amazing. Other than that, disappointing.

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2013

    Poor pacing makes for a disjointed narrative

    No doubt some will proclaim that Gibson's choppy, stuttering prose is meant to reflect the setting of this dark story. Intentional or not, it makes for a decidedly unpleasant read. The uneven pacing and drug addled perspective of the POV character makes for a fairly boring read. I found myself unimpressed with the setting (scene setting is quite sparse.) and uninterested in the characters. I would only recommend this novel for hardened fans of the cyberpunk sub-genre. Go for Richard Morgan's Thirteen for a better written novel in a similiar setting.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2001

    As Good As Cyberpunk Gets

    From the first sentence, I can see why this novel would be considered such a landmark work in its specific genre. I compliment Gibson for each and every one of his thoroughly-constructed phrases; such precise language is rarely so stylish, having never been presented in such a modern tech-noir context. However, I felt the characters were all throwaways - I immediately thought of the filmed version of 'Mission: Impossible,' in which almost every member of the team dies without the audience getting a chance to care about any of them. In Neuromancer (a sort of 'M:I meets the Matrix'), the reader is presented with a similarly underdeveloped ensemble. Yet film audiences can tolerate shallow characters much easier than any dedicated reader can. Gibson is obviously a talented wordsmith, and I guarantee he could win more Hugos and Nebulas if he spent some time creating at least one fascinating character.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2001

    Probably the Greatest Work of Cyberpunk Ever

    Unfortunately, cyberpunk is not a very good genre. Most cyberpunk authors generally rehash whatever Philip K Dick book they like the most, and Gibson is no exception. The characters are tired-they're cardboard cutouts-as are the AI machines that the characters encounter. This book has its excellent parts, but the basic idea of plugging one's brain into a computer directly is not explored very well, so thinking readers would be better off watching The Matrix. Neuromancer is not a bad book, and it's certainly unique, but it does not stand up to earlier works of science fiction and its main ideas have been explored more fully in The Matrix and modern Anime.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2013

    Started off OK and got less and less interesting

    I'll make this short. The books characters and ideas were more than a bit strange to begin with but had enough substance to hook me into reading it. However, by he time I had gotten halfway through it I had lost all interest in the book. It didn't really seem to have a point and if it had a point it had a very obtuse way of making it. Also the characters had gotten more and more weird and less and less interesting. At that point I stopped reading it which I do with maybe 5-10% of any book I start to read. Watching the grass grow would probably be more interesting than reading this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2012

    Better than I Remember

    I finished Neuromancer a second time, the first was when I was between 12-14. I barely remembered anything from my first read through of the book so it was practically brand new.

    It's interesting, the way Gibson wrote the book, as his writing mimics the later quick-cuts of first music videos, then later movies. He doesn't languidly slide from one location to another, or one conversation to another. Everything jumps, from viewpoints, to conversations, to concepts.

    I enjoy me a good caper story and I was pleasantly surprised to re-discover this book was a caper of sorts. Gibson certainly withstands the test of time and nostalgia for me. A fantastic book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2012

    Great book

    For those hung up on labels "cyberpunk" is a big pro/con of this book since it basically launched the genre. Ignore all of that marketing hype. This is an excellent near-future science fiction story. It's a perfect combo of action and intricate storyline. Still my favorite of Gibson's works.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2012

    Short answer review.

    Difficult at times to follow as Gibson's descriptions seem bent toward people in the story. Great story otherwise.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Nostalgia

    I am not sure why this was called a new trend setter back in it's day. Those of you over 60 will recognize the writing style as Micky Spillanes in his "Mike Hammer" series.......with profanity, sex. and sci-fi trappings. If it were music it would be Bill Haley and the Comets VS Brian Eno.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    Needs more character development

    Was a good read, but seemed a bit jumpy. A longer read with more development of the characters wouldhave been appreciatec.

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  • Posted January 1, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I must admit that I had lots of trouble following the plot. The

    I must admit that I had lots of trouble following the plot. The work is written from a third person point of view, but most of the time I could not realize who was &quot;she&quot;, or &quot;he.&quot; There were plenty of computer terms I could not follow: I had no idea who or what the &quot;Matrix,&quot; &quot;console cowboy,&quot; ROM module, Sense/Net, icebreaker program, Villa Straylight, Freeside, The Turing Law Code governing AIs (Artificial Intelligence programs), Screaming Fist, Moderns, cybernetic implants, etc. are or mean.....

    I must confess that I had to go to Wikipedia to get explanations to what was going on. If you want to read the book, I suggest you do the same. Here's the Wikipedia summary for your benefit:

    &quot;Henry Dorsett Case is a low-level hustler in the dystopian underworld of Chiba City, Japan. Once a talented computer hacker, Case was caught stealing from his employer. As punishment for his theft, Case's central nervous system was damaged with a mycotoxin, leaving him unable to access the global computer network in cyberspace, a virtual reality dataspace called the &quot;Matrix&quot;. Unemployable, addicted to drugs, and suicidal, Case desperately searches the Chiba &quot;black clinics&quot; for a miracle cure. Case is saved by Molly Millions, an augmented &quot;street samurai&quot; and mercenary for a shadowy ex-military officer named Armitage, who offers to cure Case in exchange for his services as a hacker. Case jumps at the chance to regain his life as a &quot;console cowboy,&quot; but neither Case nor Molly knows what Armitage is really planning. Case's nervous system is repaired using new technology that Armitage offers the clinic as payment, but he soon learns from Armitage that sacs of the poison that first crippled him have been placed in his blood vessels as well. Armitage promises Case that if he completes his work in time, the sacs will be removed; otherwise they will dissolve, disabling him again. He also has Case's pancreas replaced and new tissue grafted into his liver, leaving Case incapable of metabolizing cocaine or amphetamines and apparently ending his drug addiction.

    Case develops a close personal relationship with Molly, who suggests that he begin looking into Armitage's background. Meanwhile, Armitage assigns them their first job: they must steal a ROM module that contains the saved consciousness of one of Case's mentors, legendary cyber-cowboy McCoy Pauley, nicknamed &quot;Dixie Flatline.&quot; Pauley's hacking expertise is needed by Armitage, and the ROM construct is stored in the corporate headquarters of media conglomerate Sense/Net. A street gang named the &quot;Panther Moderns&quot; is hired to create a simulated terrorist attack on Sense/Net. The diversion allows Molly to penetrate the building and steal Dixie's ROM.

    Case and Molly continue to investigate Armitage, discovering his former identity of Colonel Willis Corto. Corto was a member of &quot;Operation Screaming Fist,&quot; which planned on infiltrating and disrupting Soviet computer systems from ultralight aircraft dropped over Russia. The Russian military had learned of the idea and installed defenses to render the attack impossible, but the military went ahead with Screaming Fist, with a new secret purpose of testing these Russian defenses. As the Operation team attacked a Soviet computer center, EMP weapons shut down their computers and flight systems, and Corto and his men were targeted by Soviet laser defenses. He and a few survivors commandeered a Soviet military helicopter and escaped over the heavily guarded Finnish border. Everyone was killed except Corto, who was seriously wounded and heavily mutilated by Finnish defense forces attacking the helicopter as it landed. After some months in the hospital, Corto was visited by a Government military official and then medically rebuilt to be able to provide what he came to realize was fake testimony, designed to mislead the public and protect the military officers who had covered up knowledge of the EMP weapons. After the trials, Corto snapped, killing the Government official who contacted him and then disappeared into the criminal underworld.

    In Istanbul, the team recruits Peter Riviera, an artist, thief, and drug addict who is able to project detailed holographic illusions with the aid of sophisticated cybernetic implants. Although Riviera is a sociopath, Armitage coerces him into joining the team. The trail leads Case and Molly to a powerful artificial intelligence named Wintermute, created by the Tessier-Ashpool legacy, who spend most of their inactive time in cryonic preservation inside Villa Straylight, a labyrinthine mansion located at one end of Freeside, a cylindrical space habitat located at L5, and functioning primarily as a Las Vegas-style space resort for the wealthy.

    Wintermute's nature is finally revealed – it is one-half of a super-AI entity planned by the family, although its exact purpose is unknown. The Turing Law Code governing AIs bans the construction of such entities; to get around this, it had to be built as two separate AIs. Wintermute (housed in a computer mainframe in Bern, Switzerland) was programmed by the Tessier-Ashpool dynasty with a need to merge with its other half – Neuromancer (whose physical mainframe is installed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Unable to achieve this merger on its own, Wintermute recruited Armitage and his team to help complete the goal. Case is tasked with entering cyberspace to pierce the Turing-imposed software barriers using a powerful icebreaker program. At the same time, Riviera is to obtain the password to the Turing lock from Lady 3Jane Marie-France Tessier-Ashpool, an unfrozen daughter clone and the current leader of Tessier-Ashpool SA. Wintermute believes Riviera will pose an irresistible temptation to her, and that she will give him the password. The password must be spoken into an ornate computer terminal located in the Tessier-Ashpool home in Villa Straylight, and entered simultaneously as Case pierces the software barriers in cyberspace – otherwise the Turing lock will remain intact.

    Armitage's team attracts the attention of the Turing Police, whose job is to prevent AIs from exceeding their built-in limitations. As Molly and Riviera gain entrance to Villa Straylight, three officers arrest Case and take him into custody; Wintermute manipulates the orbital casino's security and maintenance systems and kills the officers, allowing Case to escape. The Armitage personality starts to disintegrate and revert to the Corto personality as he relives Screaming Fist. It is revealed that in the past, Wintermute had originally contacted Corto through a bedside computer during his convalescence, eventually convincing Corto that he was Armitage. Wintermute used him to persuade Case and Molly to help it merge with its twin AI, Neuromancer. Finally, Armitage becomes the shattered Corto again, but his newfound personality is short-lived as he is killed by Wintermute.

    Inside Villa Straylight, Riviera meets with Lady 3Jane and tries to stop the mission, helping Lady 3Jane and Hideo, 3Jane's ninja bodyguard, to capture Molly. Worried about Molly and operating under orders from Wintermute, Case tracks her down with help from Maelcum, his Rastafarian pilot. Neuromancer attempts to trap Case within a cyber-construct where he finds the consciousness of Linda Lee, his girlfriend from Chiba City, who was murdered by one of Case's underworld contacts. Case manages to escape flatlining inside the construct by choosing of his own free will not to stay. Freeing himself, Case takes Maelcum and confronts Lady 3Jane, Riviera, and Hideo. Riviera tries to kill Case, but Lady 3Jane is sympathetic towards Case and Molly, and Hideo protects him. Riviera blinds Hideo, but flees when he learns that the ninja is just as adept without his si

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