Neuromancer

For my personal essay, I decided to read and analyze Neuromancer by William Gibson. This book was published in 1984 and had an enormous impact in the genre of science fiction.

William Gibson was born in 1948 on the coast of South Carolina, and he had a rather tragic childhood. His father died choking on some food in a restaurant when he was six, and his mother died 12 years later. He became interested in science fiction when he was a young boy in an old fashioned town. After becoming a book worm, his mother shipped him to a private boys’ school in Arizona where he stayed until she passed away; he dropped out at the age of 18.

William Gibson
William Gibson

Gibson ended up in Canada and eventually married, and one day in the 1970s his childhood passion of science fiction resurfaced. He began to write, and has been ever since. He has authored 10 novels and 25 articles to date and many stories as well (Gibson 2002).

The title Neuromancer is quite conspicuous, but Gibson defines it as a combination of neuro, romancer, and necromancer: “Neuro from the nerves, the silver paths. Romancer. Necromancer. I call up the dead” (Gibson, Neuromancer 1984).

Neuromancer Cover
Neuromancer Cover

Neuromancer was his first book, and it follows the anti-hero Henry Case through a somewhat confusing plot line. It begins with Case in Chiba City, Japan; he is despondent due his central nervous system having been damaged by his previous employer after he tried to steal from them. Because of this he is unable to work. He is picked up by the street samurai, Molly, who tells him that her employer, Armitage, wants to see him. Armitage informs Case that he can have his CNS fixed, but Case must perform a job for him after the procedure. Case agrees and is launched into a fast paced story line.

Case is what they call a cowboy—a data hacker that works by entering cyberspace, otherwise known as the matrix.

The Matrix
The Matrix

After his CNS is fixed, he performs a preliminary job for Armitage and succeeds wonderfully. Following that they recruit more people for their real task: entering the Villa known as Straylight on the luxurious space habitat that is described as the Las Vegas style resort for the wealthy. After the team enters the villa—while Case simultaneously performs a hacking job in the matrix—they coordinate their efforts to release protocols that have restricted an AI from becoming a super consciousness, and they discover in the process that the AI has been organizing the job from the very beginning through Armitage. The story winds to a bittersweet ending with Case finding a new girlfriend and resuming his old work. He is later visited by the super consciousness while in the matrix, and it informs him that it has become, “the sum total of the works, the whole show” (Gibson, Neuromancer 1984).

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence

Some of the more pertinent scientific topics explored in the book include cyberspace, Artificial Intelligence, biomedical engineering, and many other futuristic technologies. His take on these technologies is quite unique in some respects, and it becomes hard to follow the book in some parts due to the lack of explanation of several of the futuristic devices. All aspects considered, Neuromancer was an exceptional read and lead the way in science fiction in its time winning the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards.

Citations:

Gibson, William. 1984. Neuromancer. New York City: The Berkley Group.

–. 2002. “Source Code: “Since 1948″.” William Gibson Books. November 6. http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/source/source.asp.

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