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Neuromancer, not to be confused with Necromancer

Posted in Neuromancer on September 26, 2011 by catho89

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?