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William Gibson, Neuromancer 1984


The Sprawl Series: Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), Burning Chrome (short ... Has also written screenplays, poetry, essays, and song lyrics ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: William Gibson, Neuromancer 1984

William Gibson,Neuromancer (1984)
William Gibson
  • American-born, Canadian-based writer (has dual
    citizenship), b. 1948
  • Began writing SF during an English degree at UBC
    published his first story in 1977
  • Influenced by the Beat Generation writers, esp.
    William S. Burroughs and by punk music

Gibsons Books
  • The Sprawl Series Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero
    (1986), Burning Chrome (short stories, 1986),
    Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)
  • The Bridge Series Virtual Light (1993), Idoru
    (1996), All Tomorrows Parties (1999)
  • Mainstream Books Pattern Recognition (2003),
    Spook Country (2007)
  • The Difference Engine with Bruce Sterling (1990)
  • Has also written screenplays, poetry, essays, and
    song lyrics

Cyberspace From Fiction to Reality
  • First mentioned in Burning Chrome (1981), but
    popularized in Neuromancer
  • Did Gibsons fictional cyberspace influence the
    development of the real Internet?
  • Viruses, antivirals (ICE / firewalls), jacking in
    (literal or metaphorical), gamer and hacker
    cultures, data as commodity

Cyberspace as Alternate Possible World
  • Similarities and differences between the
    cyberworld and the real world?
  • Gibsons use of both cyberspace and outer space -
    transition between traditional SF and
  • Dream/hallucination/simulation/reality scale
  • Artificial stimulation drugs, electronics,
    cybernetic implants (e.g. microsofts) cyberspace
    as addiction

Gibson and AI
  • How smarts an AI, Case? . . . Some arent much
    smarter than dogs. . . .The real smart ones are
    as smart as the Turing heat is willing to let em

  • Human/AI interactions - suspicions of each by the
  • Communication through human agents
  • Which is the superior intelligence, and why?
  • Tessiers plan for Wintermute and Neuromancer a
    symbiotic relationship with the AIs, our
    corporate decisions made for us....each of us
    units of a larger entity
  • The merger of Wintermute and Neuromancer
  • Allusion to SETI on the Internet?

Other Technology
  • Bionics
  • Neurosurgery / organ replacement
  • Cryogenics
  • Cloning
  • Gibsons relations to real-world technology

Gibson on Technology
  • The street finds its own uses for things - uses
    the manufacturers never imagined
  • Other technological artifacts unexpectedly
    become means of communication, either through
    opportunity or necessity
  • Im sometimes asked whether or not I think the
    Net is a good thing. Thats like being asked if
    being human is a good thing
  • While SF is sometimes good at predicting things,
    its seldom good at predicting what those things
    might actually do to us

Urban Dystopia
  • Night City was like a deranged experiment in
    Social Darwinism, designed by a bored researcher
    who kept one thumb permanently on the
    fast-forward button
  • The Sprawl (eastern US) Chiba City other
  • cyberterrorism
  • Post-apocalyptic society?

Gibson and Japan
  • Gibson didnt visit Japan until after the
    publication of Neuromancer
  • Japan is the global economys default setting
    for the future....The Japanese are the ultimate
    Early Adaptors
  • The Japanese love futuristic things...because
    theyve been living in the future for such a very
    long time
  • The result of this catastrophic triple whammy -
    catastrophic industrialization, war, the American
    occupation - is the Japan that delights,
    disturbs, and fascinates us today a mirror
    world, an alien planet we can actually do
    business with, a future

  • The otaku, the passionate obsessive, the
    information age's embodiment of the connoisseur,
    more concerned with the accumulation of data than
    of objects, seems a natural crossover figure in
    today's interface of British and Japanese
    cultures... There is something profoundly
    post-national about it, extra-geographic. We are
    all curators, in the post-modern world, whether
    we want to be or not.
  • Tokyo is...sheer eye candy. You can see more
    chronological strata of futuristic design in a
    Tokyo streetscape than anywhere else in the
  • Gibson has said Tokyo reminds him of both Dicks
    and Lems fictional worlds, or at least their
    film counterparts

Gibson and Corporate Culture
  • Gibson also popularized the term
    megacorporation (zaibatsu in Japanese)
  • The Tessier-Ashpool family, and its attempts to
    attain immortality
  • Corporations reflecting the whims of the founder?
  • ghosts in the corporate cores
  • Gibson on the society of Neuromancer there is
    no middle class. There are only very, very
    wealthy people and desperately poor, mostly
    criminal people. It's a very Victorian world.

Molly and Case
  • How do they challenge traditional gender roles?
  • Symbolism of Mollys modifications
  • Empathy / shared POV in cyberspace
  • Its just the way Im wired
  • Intertextuality Johnny Mnemonic and Mona Lisa

Gibson and Religion
  • Gibsons skepticism I dont know because I
    cant know. I am that which knoweth not the word
  • Role of Rastafarianism reggae music, the Marcus
    Garvey (named for a founder of the movement),
    Zion/Babylon (references to the sacred/secular
  • Cyberspace as quasi-religious experience
  • The Panther Moderns use of religion
  • AI as new gods, esp. after the Wintermute/Neuroman
    cer merger?
  • Wintermute, he mumbled to his knees. Jesus,
    he said.
  • Does Gibsons society have a master narrative?

  • Neuromancer. The lane to the land of the
    dead.... Neuro from the nerves... Romancer.
    Necromancer. I call up the dead. I am the dead,
    and their land.
  • Also new romancer - suggesting a new twist on
    imaginative fiction

Gibson and Popular Culture
  • Depiction of subcultures, including their
    fleeting nature
  • Influences punk music, action movies, film noir,
    hardboiled mystery
  • Gibsons influence on musicians, artists, and
  • Gibson and gamer culture (e.g. Shadowrun,
    Cyberpunk 2020) influence of real-world gamers
    on Gibsons cyberspace

Gibson on the Real Cyberspace
  • On visiting Second Life for the first time I
    didn't go as myself. I went as the guy that I
    cooked up when signed up, so nobody knew it was
    me. And actually it was like a cross between
    being in some suburban shopping mall on the
    outskirts of Edmonton in the middle of winter and
    the worst day you ever spent in high school. . .
    . It's deserted. It seems like functionally it
    has to be deserted. If it's not deserted it
    crashes. So there's all this empty, empty
    architecture. There's whole cities where there's
    only one other person and they don't even want to
    get close to you. And when you do succeed in
    finding a group of other avatars, people aren't
    very nice.

Gibson and Art
  • References to modern/surrealist artists
    (Kandinsky, Dali, Duchamp)
  • Juxtapositions of classic art and popular
  • Riviera as performance artist bringing his
    imagination to life

Derivative Works
  • 1988 computer game
  • 1989 graphic novel
  • Stage production radio play audiobook with
    music planned film
  • 2000 biographical film No Maps For These

Illustrations taken from www.braid.com
Illustrations taken from www.antonraubenweiss.com/
Gibson and Other Writers
  • Gibson vs. Lem use of visitors role of
    skepticism role of expository narrative
  • Gibson vs. Dick very similar fictional worlds
    and narrative tones (how much influence did Dick
    have on Gibson?) role of AI, esp. in relation to
    humans dystopian/post-apocalyptic societies
  • Gibson vs. Adams diversity of adaptations
    ironic use of expository dialogue
  • Gibson vs. Banks role of gamers
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