Gibson create a flawed character who is a “cowboy” (54) and set him up against an artificial intelligence called “Wintermute” (248). But he isn’t just a hacker—that would have been too simple. Instead, he is a drugged-out hacker who can’t jack in because of his condition and has to take an outlandish job offer to be able to live (29). Unbeknownst to him, his employer plants bioweapons in his system and he must complete the tasks or he will die.
This book not only shows pop culture—the mythos of the hacker and the potential of technology, it also creates it. By looking at how Gibson used the terms and how he created a web of information surrounding the cowboy cyberspace jockey Case, writers can learn how to see blossoming technology and speculate about future technologies and trends based on the current trends; writers can then apply the techniques to their own novels.
One of the most disturbing yet most unique ideas in this novel is the idea of “coffins” (6, 20). A coffin is a tiny room rented at cheap rates (20). The idea of anyone sleeping in a coffin-like room because it’s cheap and easy is both bizarre and intriguing because it is so out of the norm. The idea of someone sleeping in a tiny room with only a bed, a power outlet, and a terminal (20-21) shows status of the character—he is an outsider, lower class, hacker. This is an example of the “weirdness” that Gibson embraced. It is because of that weirdness that his novel was so successful and spawned an entire generation of hacker books and movies which continues until today.
This book deserves 5 stars. It’s on my Keep Forever bookshelf.
Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group. 984. Print.
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