Part of becoming a better writer is learning from published authors. Observing word choice, sentence style, and paragraph imagery should be a part of every author’s weekly routine. In my last post I shared a few famous sci-fi openers. Let’s take a closer look at these first sentences and ask what makes them so profound and entrancing.

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

Comparing two unrelated objects, a TV and the sky, pulls us into the setting of the story. We know from the first moment that our feet are not firmly planted on earth. The metaphor’s power here is the imagery of tuning. How can a sky be tuned unless it is somehow a creation of some kind. We tune things that are created like a radio or the TV’s of old.

Neuromancer is the novel that started it all and this sentence is a testament to Gibson’s way with words. Neuromancer was instrumental in launching the cyberpunk generation, as well, the first novel to win three awards in science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. With Neuromancer, William Gibson introduced the world to cyberspace. Science fiction has never been the same.

Neuromancer also introduced the notion of a technology dominated dystopian society in which social decay is apparent everywhere and lasting interpersonal relationships are nonexistent. Dark stuff.

If you’ve read this novel or only heard about it, what are your thought? More importantly, how does the first sentence make you feel or see?