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Neuromancer, not to be confused with Necromancer

Talk about plunging feet first into a new world.

From the very beginning, William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer forces us to take cognitive leaps and bounds with our understanding. By giving us no option but to blindly trust his words (especially the ones we don’t understand), we are submerged deep into Gibson’s cyber world.

As I began to read Neuromancer, it was obvious that the pages were saturated with words beyond my understanding. Not only with Japanese words like “gaijin” or “Yakuza”, which are literally beyond my understanding because they are in another language, but with words like “sprawl”,”dermatrodes”,and “simstim”. Gibson uses a technological language far beyond his own time, but even as a modern reader, I consistently find I don’t understand most words he uses. However, through repetition, my understanding of these words becomes more concrete.

But then, as soon as I start to think I am understanding Gibson’s world, he throws you entire sentences, or even paragraphs as curve balls.

“And flowed, flowered for him, fluid neon origami trick, the unfolding of his distanceless home, his country, transparent 3D chessboard extending to infinity. Inner eye opening to the stepped scarlet pyramid of the Eastern Seaboard Fission Authority burning beyond the green cubes of Mitsubishi Bank of America, and high and very far away he saw the spiral arm of military systems, forever beyond his reach” (53).


“The gate blurred past. He laughed. The Sense/Net had accepted his entry as a routine transfer from the consortium’s Los Angeles complex. He was inside. Behind him, viral subprograms peeled off, meshing with the gate’s code fabric, ready to deflect the real Los Angeles data when it arrived” (60).

These are just a few of many excerpts that leave me more than a little puzzled, because the world I am trying to understand is so abstract. This is Gibson’s concept of cyberspace and the internet before they had even been established. Gibson deals with the theoretical world of cyberspace, and we are seeing it from his point of view, which may be one of the most difficult concepts for a modern reader. Is it more complicated to adapt my own predefined view of cyberspace, or to conceptualize Gibson’s vision without familiarity?


One Response to “Neuromancer, not to be confused with Necromancer”

  1.   bko416 Says:

    You have a really interesting question there, because I find myself trying to adapt my own predefined perceptions of cyberspace throughout this book so far. The book talks about Case going in and out of the matrix, which keeps making scenes from the movie pop into my head. Like when they were getting the ROM from sense/net, I kept picturing Trinity tearing through the building. Anyways, I think it’s almost impossible to just conceptualize all the elements of this book without referring back to familiar visuals. As a reader, it’s hard for me to move on without being able to fully conceptualize what I’m reading, or I’ll forget that part of the book even exists. So usually the easiest way for me is to kind of adapt something I know. However, what if there isn’t anything to reference back to? Like Molly’s eyes, she had like glasses implanted into her face? It was a really cool concept, but it was also really weird to visualize, especially because they end up having sex(albeit, it was in the dark, but still, weird). In conclusion, I see pitfalls going about it both ways, but also opportunities at both ends. I see Gibson giving a little extra attention in description to the latter things I’ve mentioned, like when he describes the Moderns as like scientists when he was a teen, which helps a lot; and also like you said, the use of repetition of those unfamiliar words throughout the book so far.

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