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Count Zero by William Gibson
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Count Zero (original 1986; edition 1986)

by William Gibson

Series: Sprawl (2)

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5,07640884 (3.83)56
Member:AlanPoulter
Title:Count Zero
Authors:William Gibson
Info:London : Grafton, 1987, c1986.
Collections:Your library
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Tags:science fiction

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Count Zero by William Gibson (1986)

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Originally posted at FanLit.

They plot with men, my other selves, and men imagine they are gods.

Several years have passed since Molly and Case freed the AI who calls himself Neuromancer. Neuromancer’s been busy and now his plots have widened to involve several people whom we meet in Count Zero:

Turner is a recently reconstructed mercenary who’s been hired by the Hosaka Corporation to extract Christopher Mitchell and his daughter Angie from Mitchell’s job at Maas Biolabs. Mitchell is the creator of the world’s first biochip, and he’s secretly agreed to move to Hosaka. Extracting an indentured research scientist is a deadly game, but Turner is one of the best.

Bobby “Count Zero” Newmark, who wants to be a console cowboy, has just pulled a Wilson (that means he majorly screwed up) on his first attempt at running an unknown ... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/reviews/count-zero/
( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

"They plot with men, my other selves, and men imagine they are gods."

Several years have passed since Molly and Case freed the AI who calls himself Neuromancer. Neuromancer’s been busy and now his plots have widened to involve several people whom we meet in Count Zero:

Turner is a recently reconstructed mercenary who’s been hired by the Hosaka Corporation to extract Christopher Mitchell and his daughter Angie from Mitchell’s job at Maas Biolabs. Mitchell is the creator of the world’s first biochip, and he’s secretly agreed to move to Hosaka. Extracting an indentured research scientist is a deadly game, but Turner is one of the best.

Bobby “Count Zero” Newmark, who wants to be a console cowboy, has just pulled a Wilson (that means he majorly screwed up) on his first attempt at running an unknown icebreaker. He nearly died in the matrix but was saved by a girl he’d never seen before. Now he’s freaked out, on the run, and buildings are exploding behind him as he’s being hunted by a mysterious helicopter with a rocket launcher.

Marly Krushkova lost her art gallery after her boyfriend tried to sell a forgery. Now she’s been hired by Joseph Virek, the world’s richest man, to find the artist who’s creating and selling some strange shadowboxes. These expensive and enigmatic objets d'art seem like collections of random pieces of junk, but they speak to Marly. Using her intuition, and Joseph Virek’s money, she hopes to find the unknown artist.

Other memorable characters are the voodoo priests and priestesses, The Finn, Tally Isham the Sense/Net celebrity, the prophet Wigan Ludgate who thinks God lives in the matrix, a bar owner named Jammer, and a whole mob of Gothicks and Kasuals. All of their stories eventually collide as we discover who’s haunting cyberspace.

Count Zero is the first sequel to William Gibson’s cyberpunk classic Neuromancer. If you haven’t read Neuromancer yet, you’ll probably be lost because Gibson just drops you into his world without instructions, explanations, or technical support. Even though you think you’ve been to his world before (it’s Earth after all), you haven’t, and Gibson never tells us what happened to make it unrecognizable. It appears that large biotech companies are in control (or maybe I should say they’re out of control) and there are no authorities to check their ruthless behaviors. What happened to the U.S. government? Why are so many cities ruined and abandoned? What is “the war” that people keep referring to? Where is the middle class? There are still rich people who buy art, wear stylish clothes, and set trends for the masses, but many of those who try to keep up are illiterate, addicted, and without electricity and clean water. They escape their lives with designer drugs and by plugging into cheap simstim fantasies.

It’s partly these questions, which are never answered, that make Neuromancer’s sequel work so well. Many sequels feel pallid because the world and the characters are no longer new and exciting, but Gibson avoids sequel stagnancy by creating a gaudy and grueling world that we feel like we should understand, and making us desperate for more information (but rarely delivering it).

It also helps that in each book of the Sprawl trilogy, we have new characters to get to know. And you have to admire Gibson’s characters. Not as people, perhaps, but as characters. For example, Bobby (Count Zero) is a total loser. He’s like that obnoxious kid in high school who was always trying so hard to make people like him. Gibson gets this just right, never explaining Bobby to us, but letting us gradually figure him out just by listening to him talk or by seeing things from his perspective. This is carefully and cleverly done for every character.

The plot of Count Zero is fascinating, unique, and unpredictable as Gibson finally brings together all of these weird and colorful events and characters. There are some answers in the end, and the story's connection to Neuromancer is eventually made clear. But there are many questions left to answer, so after you finish Count Zero, you’ll want to have Mona Lisa Overdrive, the concluding novel of the Sprawl trilogy, ready to go.

I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version of Count Zero which was read by one of my favorite voice actors, Jonathan Davis. He is always wonderful and his grimy and jaded male voices are perfect for this kind of novel. My only issue is one I’ve had with Davis before: he has essentially one female voice. I have listened to so many books read by Mr. Davis that I actually feel like this one woman is showing up in all these different novels. (Hey, what are Thecla and Agia and Vlana and Ivrian doing in the Sprawl??) Count Zero has only a few female characters who don’t overlap much, so Davis does well with this story, but I’ll be listening for Angie and Marly next time I’m in Lankhmar. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
( read this but don't remember anything about it ) ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
On rereading, this one holds up well. I forgot how similar the plot is to Pattern Recognition. It gets either hard to follow or hand-wavy at the end, or possibly both... I didn't care enough to try to reconstruct everything that was happening, and why. ( )
1 vote wirehead | Jul 9, 2013 |
*note to self.copy from Al.
  velvetink | Mar 31, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Gibsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berry, RichardCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Häilä, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Quiero hacer contigo/
lo que la primavera/
hace con los cerezos - Neruda
COUNT ZERO INTERRUPT - on receiving an interrupt, decrement the counter to zero.
Dedication
For my D
First words
They set a slamhound on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair.
Quotations
"The street tries to find its own uses for things, Mr Turner." [Chiba medic: 69]
As she walked from the Louvre, she seemed to sense some articulated structure shifting to accommodate her course through the city. The waiter would be merely a part of the thing, one limb, a probe or palp. The whole would be larger, much larger. How could she have imagined that it would be possible to live, to move, in the unnatural field of Virek's wealth without suffering distortion? Virek had taken her up, in all her misery, and had rotated her through all the monstrous, invisible stresses of his money, and she had been changed. Of course, she thought, of course: It moves around me constantly, watchful and invisible, the vast and subtle mechanism of Herr Virek's surveillance. [Marly: 73]
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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Book description
Count Zero's world of the Sprawl is closer to the connected world of today than Gibson's earlier work Neuromancer.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0441117732, Mass Market Paperback)

Turner, corporate mercenary, wakes in a reconstructed body, a beautiful woman by his side. Then Hosaka Corporation reactivates him for a mission more dangerous than the one he's recovering from: Maas-Neotek's chief of R&D is defecting. Turner is the one assigned to get him out intact, along with the biochip he's perfected. But this proves to be of supreme interest to certain other parties--some of whom aren't remotely human.

Bobby Newmark is entirely human: a rustbelt data-hustler totally unprepared for what comes his way when the defection triggers war in cyberspace. With voodoo on the Net and a price on his head, Newmark thinks he's only trying to get out alive. A stylish, streetsmart, frighteningly probable parable of the future and sequel to Neuromancer

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:16 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Turner, corporate mercenary, wakes in a reconstructed body, a beautiful woman by his side. Then Hosaka Corporation reactivates him for a mission more dangerous than the one he's recovering from: Maas-Neotek's chief of R&D is defecting. Turner is the one assigned to get him out intact, along with the biochip he's perfected. But this proves to be of supreme interest to certain other parties--some of whom aren't remotely human. Bobby Newmark is entirely human: a rustbelt data-hustler totally unprepared for what comes his way when the defection triggers war in cyberspace. With voodoo on the Net and a price on his head, Newmark thinks he's only trying to get out alive. Untilhe meets the angel. A stylish, streetsmart, frighteningly probable parable of the future.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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