“Great Opening Sentences From Science Fiction.”

Yesterday\'s digital blue.All-things-scifi Web site, io9, has a wonderful article today:

As a student of creative writing and hopeful one-day teacher of it, I’m acutely aware of how important a good first line or two is for capturing the attention of the reader, and especially the editor who’s sifting through the slush pile of submitted manuscripts for publishing.

I think my favorite opening line I’ve written so far is:

“Ash was too late to see the end of the universe; it was already dead when he woke up.”

In the comment thread for this article, commentor Timeshredder remarks:

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

Great line. More menacing when a television tuned to a dead channel wasn’t bright blue.

I so agree. When I first read Neuromancer when I was about…(OMG) 22 years old, I lingered over that opening line–it was poetry! It was my kind of poetry. Technopoetic. Then I read it again last year and yeah, the second thing to immediately pop into my head was an unmarred field of urgent blue. The new appearance of the “detuned” television channel creates an entirely and fundamentally new feeling to the atmosphere and tone of the novel.

Of course, as one continues reading they’ll start to appreciate the gritty urban decay Gibson was going for, which will simply conflict with and then overshadow the idea of the sky being a bright digital blue.