Voodoo godlike AIs (4 stars)
“Signature smell of the Sprawl, a rich amalgam of stale subway exhalations, ancient soot, and the carcinogenic tang of fresh plastics, all of it shot through with the carbon edge of illicit fossil fuels.”
The follow up to Neuromancer, Count Zero is another cyberpunk classic that revisits many themes of his previous book. It follows several interconnected stories: a mercenary hired to attack a corporate fortress that escapes with a girl that has undergone experimental modifications and can hack computers without a deck. A hacker that is almost killed as he is played into testing an experimental deck and discover that there are strange entities roaming the matrix. And a small art gallery owner from Paris that is hired by a eccentric trillionaire to find a series of boxes.
The language and descriptions here are top-notch. Gibson has an uncanny talent to makes this now retro-futuristic world come alive, along with several interesting and mind-bending themes. One is how corporations and Big Money end up having a life and will of their own, not only like a living organism, but a colony of different spheres with different agendas that compete among themselves. Another is how artificial intelligences adopt an air of godhood as they incorporate the persona of voodoo gods.