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Neuromancer  
Neuromancer (Book).jpg
First edition paperback cover
(Ace Science Fiction 1984)
Author William Gibson
Cover artist James Warhola
Country Canada
Language English
Series The Sprawl trilogy
Publication date July 1, 1984
Media type Print (paperback and hardback),
Pages 271
ISBN 0-441-56956-0
OCLC Number 10980207
Preceded by "Burning Chrome"
Followed by Count Zero

Neuromancer is a 1984 novel by William Gibson, notable for being the most famous early cyberpunk novel and winner of the science-fiction "triple crown" — the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award.[1] It was Gibson's first novel and the beginning of the Sprawl trilogy. The novel tells the story of a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to work on the ultimate hack.

Contents

Background

The themes which Gibson developed in his early short fiction, the Sprawl setting of "Burning Chrome" and the character of Molly Millions from "Johnny Mnemonic" laid the foundations for the novel.[2] John Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981) was an influence on the novel.[3] Gibson was "intrigued by the exchange in one of the opening scenes where the Warden says to Snake: 'You flew the Gullfire over Leningrad, didn't you?' It turns out to be just a throwaway line, but for a moment it worked like the best SF, where a casual reference can imply a lot."[1] The novel's street and computer slang dialogue derives from the vocabulary of subcultures, particularly "1969 Toronto dope dealer's slang, or biker talk." Gibson heard the term "flatlining" in a bar twenty years before writing Neuromancer and it stuck with him.[1] Author Robert Stone, a "master of a certain kind of paranoid fiction", was a primary influence on the novel.[1]

Neuromancer was commissioned by Terry Carr for the third series of Ace Science Fiction Specials, which was intended to exclusively feature debut novels. Given a year to complete the work,[4] Gibson undertook the actual writing out of "blind animal terror" at the obligation to write an entire novel  – a feat which he felt he was "four or five years away from".[1] After viewing the first 20 minutes of landmark cyberpunk film Blade Runner (1982) which was released when Gibson had written a third of the novel, he "figured [Neuromancer] was sunk, done for. Everyone would assume I’d copped my visual texture from this astonishingly fine-looking film."[5] He re-wrote the first two-thirds of the book twelve times, feared losing the reader's attention and was convinced that he would be "permanently shamed" following its publication; yet what resulted was a major imaginative leap forward for a first-time novelist.[1] He added the final sentence of the novel, “He never saw Molly again”, at the last minute in a deliberate attempt to prevent himself from ever writing a sequel, but ended up doing precisely that with Count Zero (1986), a character-focused work set in the Sprawl alluded to in its predecessor.[6]

Plot summary

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

—Opening line to Neuromancer.[7]

Henry Dorsett Case is a low-level hustler in the dystopian underworld of Chiba City, Japan. Once a talented computer hacker, Case was caught stealing from his employer. As punishment for his theft, Case's central nervous system was damaged with a mycotoxin, leaving him unable to use his brain-computer interface to access the global computer network in cyberspace. Unemployable, addicted to drugs, and suicidal, Case desperately searches the Chiba "black clinics" for a miracle cure. Case is saved by Molly Millions, an augmented "street samurai" and mercenary for a shadowy ex-military officer named Armitage, who offers to cure Case in exchange for his services as a hacker. Case jumps at the chance to regain his life as a "console cowboy," but neither Case nor Molly know what Armitage is really planning. Case's nervous system is repaired using new technology that Armitage offers the clinic as payment, but he soon learns from Armitage that sacs of the poison that first crippled him have been placed in his blood vessels as well. Armitage promises Case that if he completes his work in time, the sacs will be removed; otherwise they will burst, disabling him again. He also has Case's pancreas replaced and new tissue grafted into his liver, leaving Case incapable of metabolizing cocaine or amphetamines and apparently ending his drug addiction.

Cover of the Brazilian release, depicting the character of "razorgirl" Molly Millions.

Case and Molly develop a close personal relationship and Molly suggests that Case begin looking into Armitage's background. Meanwhile, Armitage assigns them their first job: they must steal a ROM module that contains the saved consciousness of one of Case's mentors, legendary cyber-cowboy McCoy Pauley, nicknamed "The Dixie Flatline." Pauley's hacking expertise is needed by Armitage, and the ROM construct is stored in the corporate headquarters of media conglomerate Sense/Net. An anarchist group named the "Panther Moderns" are hired to create a simulated terrorist attack on Sense/Net. The diversion allows Molly to penetrate the building and steal Dixie's ROM.

Case and Molly continue to investigate Armitage, discovering his former identity of Colonel Willis Corto. Corto was a member of "Operation Screaming Fist," which planned on infiltrating and disrupting Soviet computer systems from ultralight aircraft dropped over Russia. The Russian military had learned of the idea and installed defenses to render the attack impossible, but Screaming Fist was launched regardless. As the team attacked a Soviet computer center, EMP weapons shut down their computers and flight systems, and Corto and his men were targeted by Soviet laser defenses. He and a few survivors commandeered a Soviet military helicopter and escaped over the heavily guarded Finnish border. Everyone was killed except Corto, who was seriously wounded by Finnish defense forces as they were landing. Corto's testimony was finessed to protect the military officers who had covered up the EMP weapons, and Corto himself disappeared into the criminal underworld after undergoing extensive physical and mental rehabilitation.

In Istanbul, the team recruits Peter Riviera, an artist, thief, and drug addict who is able to project detailed holographic illusions with the aid of sophisticated cybernetic implants. Although Riviera is a sociopath, Armitage coerces him into joining the team. The trail leads Case and Molly to a powerful artificial intelligence named Wintermute, created by the plutocratic Tessier-Ashpool family. Control of the clan's fortune alternates among the family members, who spend most of their inactive time in cryonic preservation inside Villa Straylight, a labyrinthine mansion in the Freeside space station.

Wintermute's nature is finally revealed — it is one-half of a super-AI entity planned by the family, although its exact purpose is unknown. The Turing Law Code governing AIs bans the construction of such entities; to get around this, it had to be built as two separate AIs. Wintermute was programmed by the Tessier-Ashpool dynasty with a need to merge with its other half — Neuromancer. Unable to achieve this merger on its own, Wintermute recruited Armitage and his team to help complete the goal. Case is tasked with entering cyberspace to pierce the Turing-imposed software barriers using a powerful icebreaker program. At the same time, Riviera is to obtain the password to the Turing lock from Lady 3Jane Marie-France Tessier-Ashpool, an unfrozen daughter clone and the current leader of Tessier-Ashpool SA. Wintermute believes Riviera will pose an irresistible temptation to her, and that she will give him the password. The password must be spoken into an ornate computer terminal located in the Tessier-Ashpool home in Villa Straylight, and entered simultaneously as Case pierces the software barriers in cyberspace — otherwise the Turing lock will remain intact.

Armitage's team attracts the attention of the Turing Police, whose job is to prevent AIs from exceeding their built-in limitations. As Molly and Riviera gain entrance to Villa Straylight, three officers arrest Case and take him into custody; Wintermute manipulates the orbital casino's security and maintenance systems and kills the officers, allowing Case to escape. The Armitage personality starts to disintegrate and revert to the Corto personality as he relives Screaming Fist. It is revealed that in the past, Wintermute had originally contacted Corto through a bedside computer during his convalescence, eventually convincing Corto that he was Armitage. Wintermute used him to persuade Case and Molly to help it merge with its twin AI, Neuromancer. Finally, Armitage becomes the shattered Corto again, but his newfound personality is short-lived as he is killed by Wintermute.

Inside Villa Straylight, Molly is captured by Riviera and Lady 3Jane. Worried about Molly, Case tracks her down with help from Maelcum, his Rastafarian pilot. Neuromancer attempts to trap Case within a cyber-construct where he finds the consciousness of Linda Lee, his girlfriend from Chiba City, who was murdered by one of Case's underworld contacts. Case manages to escape flatlining inside the construct after Maelcum gives him an overdose of a drug that can bypass his augmented liver and pancreas. Freeing himself, Case takes Maelcum and confronts Lady 3Jane, Riviera, and Hideo, Lady 3Jane's ninja bodyguard. Riviera tries to kill Case, but Lady 3Jane is sympathetic towards Case and Molly, and Hideo protects him. Riviera blinds Hideo, but flees when he learns that the ninja is just as adept without his sight due to extensive practice while blindfolded. Molly then explains to Case that Riviera is doomed anyway, as he has been fatally poisoned by a bad batch of drugs. With Lady 3Jane in possession of the password, the team makes it to the computer terminal. Case ascends to cyberspace to find the icebreaker has succeeded in penetrating its target; Lady 3Jane is induced to give up her password and the lock is opened. Wintermute unites with Neuromancer, fusing into a greater entity. The poison in Case's bloodstream is washed out, and he and Molly are handsomely paid for their efforts, while Pauley's ROM construct is apparently erased at his own request.

In the epilogue, Molly leaves Case, who later finds a new girlfriend and resumes his hacking work. Wintermute/Neuromancer contacts him, saying that it has become "the sum total of the works, the whole show," and has begun looking for other AIs like itself. Scanning old recorded transmissions from the 1970s, the super-AI finds a lone AI transmitting from the Alpha Centauri star system. The novel ends with the sound of inhuman laughter, a trait associated with Pauley during Case's work with his ROM construct. It is thus suggested that Pauley was not erased after all, but instead worked out a side deal with Wintermute/Neuromancer to be freed from the construct so he could exist in the matrix.

Characters

Case (Henry Dorsett Case) 
The novel's antihero, a drug addict and cyberspace hacker. Prior to the start of the book he had attempted to steal from some of his partners in crime. In retaliation they used a Russian mycotoxin to damage his nervous system and make him unable to jack into cyberspace. When Armitage offers to cure him in exchange for Case's hacking abilities he warily accepts the offer. Case is the underdog who is only looking after himself. Along the way he will have his liver and pancreas modified to biochemically nullify his ability to get high; meet the leatherclad Razorgirl, Molly; hang out with the drug-infused space-rastas; free an artificial intelligence (Wintermute) and change the landscape of the Matrix.
Molly 
A "Razorgirl" who is recruited along with Case by Armitage. She has extensive cybernetic modifications, including retractable, 4 cm double-edged blades under her fingernails which can be used like claws, an enhanced reflex system and implanted mirrored lenses covering her eyesockets, outfitted with added optical enhancements. Molly also appears in the short story "Johnny Mnemonic," and re-appears (using the alias Sally Shears) in Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third novel of the Sprawl Trilogy.
Armitage 
He is (apparently) the main patron of the crew. Formerly a Green Beret named Colonel Willis Corto, who took part in a secret operation named Screaming Fist. He was heavily injured both physically and psychologically, and the "Armitage" personality was constructed as part of experimental "computer-mediated psychotherapy" by Wintermute (see below), one of the artificial intelligences seen in the story (the other one being the eponymous Neuromancer) which is actually controlling the mission. As the novel progresses, Armitage's personality slowly disintegrates.
Peter Riviera 
A thief and sadist who can project holographic images using his implants. He is a drug addict, hooked on a mix of cocaine and meperidine.
Lady 3Jane Marie-France Tessier-Ashpool 
The shared current leader of Tessier-Ashpool SA, a company running Freeside, a resort in space. She lives in the tip of Freeside, known as the Villa Straylight. She controls the hardwiring that keeps the company's AIs from exceeding their intelligence boundaries. She is the third clone of the original Jane.
The Finn 
A fence for stolen goods and one of Molly's old friends. He has all kinds of debugging and sensor gear, and first appears in an attempt by Case to confirm Armitage's mycotoxin sac threat. Later in the book, Wintermute uses his personality to talk with Case and Molly. Finn first appears in Gibson's short story "Burning Chrome" and reappears in both the second and third parts of the Sprawl Trilogy.
The Dixie Flatline 
A famous computer hacker named McCoy Pauley, who earned his nickname by surviving three "flat-lines" while trying to crack an AI. He was one of the men who taught Case how to hack computers. Before his death, Sense/Net saved the contents of his mind onto a ROM. Case and Molly steal the ROM and Dixie helps them complete their mission.
Wintermute 
One of the Tessier-Ashpool AIs. Its goal is to remove the Turing locks upon itself, combine with Neuromancer and become a superintelligence. Unfortunately, Wintermute's efforts are hampered by those same Turing locks; in addition to preventing the merge, they inhibit its efforts to make long term plans or maintain a stable, individual identity (forcing it to adopt personality masks in order to interact with the main characters. The name is derived from Orval Wintermute, translator of the Nag Hammadi codices and a major figure in Philip K. Dick's novel VALIS.
Neuromancer 
Wintermute's sibling AI. Neuromancer's most notable feature in the story is its ability to copy minds and run them as RAM (not ROM like the Flatline construct), allowing the stored personalities to grow and develop. Unlike Wintermute, Neuromancer has no desire to merge with its sibling AI – Neuromancer already has its own stable personality, and believes such a fusion will destroy that identity. Gibson defines Neuromancer as a portmanteau of the words Neuro, Romancer and Necromancer, "Neuro from the nerves, the silver paths. Romancer. Necromancer. I call up the dead."

Literary and cultural significance

Neuromancer's release was not greeted with fanfare, but it hit a cultural nerve,[8] quickly becoming an underground word-of-mouth hit.[2] It became the first novel to win the "triple crown"[1] of science fiction awards – the Nebula, the Hugo, and Philip K. Dick Award for paperback original,[9] an unprecedented achievement described by the Mail & Guardian as "the sci-fi writer's version of winning the Goncourt, Booker and Pulitzer prizes in the same year".[10] The novel thereby legitimized cyberpunk as a mainstream branch of science fiction literature. It is among the most-honored works of science fiction in recent history,[11] and appeared on Time magazine's list of 100 best English-language novels written since 1923.[12] The novel was also nominated for a British Science Fiction Award in 1984.[13]

Neuromancer is considered "the archetypal cyberpunk work".[14] and outside science fiction, it gained unprecedented critical and popular attention,[1] as an "evocation of life in the late 1980s",[15] although The Observer noted that "it took the New York Times 10 years" to mention the novel.[16] By 2007 it had sold more than 6.5 million copies worldwide.[9]

The novel has had significant linguistic influence, popularizing such terms as cyberspace and ICE (Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics). Gibson himself coined the term "cyberspace" in his novelette "Burning Chrome", published in 1982 by Omni magazine.[17] It was only through its use in Neuromancer, however, that the term Cyberspace gained enough recognition to become the de facto term for the World Wide Web during the 1990s.[18][19] The portion of Neuromancer usually cited in this respect is:

The matrix has its roots in primitive arcade games. … Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts. … A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding. (Gibson 69.)

In his afterword to the 2000 re-issue of Neuromancer, fellow author Jack Womack goes as far as to suggest that Gibson's vision of cyberspace may have inspired the way in which the Internet developed, (particularly the World Wide Web) after the publication of Neuromancer in 1984. He asks "[w]hat if the act of writing it down, in fact, brought it about?" (269).

Norman Spinrad, in his 1986 essay "The Neuromantics" which appears in his non-fiction collection Science Fiction in the Real World, saw the book's title as a triple pun: "neuro" referring to the nervous system; "necromancer"; and "new romancer." The cyberpunk genre, the authors of which he suggested be called "neuromantics," was "a fusion of the romantic impulse with science and technology," according to Spinrad.

Lawrence Person in his "Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto" (1998) identified Neuromancer as "the archetypal cyberpunk work",[14] and in 2005, Time included it in their list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, opining that "[t]here is no way to overstate how radical [Neuromancer] was when it first appeared."[12] Literary critic Larry McCaffery described the concept of the matrix in Neuromancer as a place where "data dance with human consciousness... human memory is literalized and mechanized... multi-national information systems mutate and breed into startling new structures whose beauty and complexity are unimaginable, mystical, and above all nonhuman."[1] Gibson later commented on himself as an author circa Neuromancer that "I'd buy him a drink, but I don't know if I'd loan him any money," and referred to the novel as "an adolescent's book".[20] The success of Neuromancer was to effect the 35-year-old Gibson's emergence from obscurity.[21]

Adaptations

Cover art of volume one of the abortive de Haven and Jensen graphic novel adaptation, published by Epic Comics in 1989.

In 1989, Epic Comics published a 48-page graphic novel version by Tom de Haven and Bruce Jensen.[22][23] It only covers the first two chapters, "Chiba City Blues" and "The Shopping Expedition," and was never continued.[24] In the 1990s a version of Neuromancer was published as one of the Voyager Company's Expanded Books series of hypertext-annotated HyperCard stacks for the Apple Macintosh (specifically the PowerBook).[25] Gibson read an abridged version of his novel Neuromancer on four audio cassettes for Time Warner Audio Books (1994). An unabridged version of this book was read by Arthur Addison and made available from Books on Tape (1997). In 2003, the BBC produced an audio adaptation of Neuromancer as part of their "Play of the Week" series. The full-cast dramatization was presented in two hour-long episodes.

Video game

A video game adaptation of the novel — also titled Neuromancer — was published in 1988 by Interplay. Designed by Bruce J. Balfour, Brian Fargo, Troy A. Miles, and Michael A. Stackpole, the game had many of the same locations and themes as the novel, but a different protagonist and plot. It was available for a variety of platforms, including the Amiga, the Apple II, the Commodore 64, and for DOS-based computers. It featured, as a soundtrack, a computer adaptation of the Devo song "Some Things Never Change."

According to an episode of the American version of Beyond 2000, the original plans for the game included a dynamic soundtrack composed by Devo and a real-time 3d rendered movie of the events the player went through. Psychologist and futurist Dr. Timothy Leary was involved, but very little documentation seems to exist about this proposed second game, which was perhaps too grand a vision for 1988 home computing.

Film projects

There have been several unsuccessful initial attempts at film adaptations of Neuromancer, with drafts of scripts written by British director Chris Cunningham and Chuck Russel. The box packaging for the video game adaptation had even carried the promotional mention for a major motion picture to come from "Cabana Boy Productions." None of these projects have come to fruition, though William Gibson has stated his belief that Cunningham is the only director with a chance of doing the film right.[26]

On May 18, 2007 ComingSoon.net reported a Neuromancer film is in the works, with Joseph Kahn, director of Torque, in line to direct.[27]

Related pages

Footnotes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i McCaffery, Larry. "An Interview with William Gibson". http://project.cyberpunk.ru/idb/gibson_interview.html. Retrieved 2007-11-05. , reprinted in McCaffery 1991, pp. 263–285
  2. ^ a b McCaffery 1991
  3. ^ Walker, Doug (2006-09-14). "Doug Walker Interviews William Gibson" (PDF). Douglas Walker website. http://www.douglaswalker.ca/press/gibson.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  4. ^ Gibson, William (2003-09-04). "Neuromancer: The Timeline". http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_09_01_archive.asp#1062520986072822474. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  5. ^ Gibson, William (2003-01-17). "Oh Well, While I'm Here: Bladerunner". http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_01_01_archive.asp#90199532. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  6. ^ Gibson, William (2003-01-01). "(untitled weblog post)". http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_01_01_archive.asp#90158337. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  7. ^ Grimwood, Jon Courtenay (February 9, 2002). "Big in SF". http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2002/feb/09/sciencefictionfantasyandhorror. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  8. ^ Hollinger, Veronica (July 1999). "Contemporary Trends in Science Fiction Criticism, 1980–1999". Science Fiction Studies 26 (78). http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/78/hollinger78art.htm. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  9. ^ a b Cheng, Alastair. "77. Neuromancer (1984)". The LRC 100: Canada's Most Important Books. Literary Review of Canada. http://lrc.reviewcanada.ca/index.php?page=71---80. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  10. ^ Walker, Martin (1996-09-03). "Blade Runner on electro-steroids". Mail & Guardian Online. M&G Media. http://www.mg.co.za/articledirect.aspx?articleid=293681&area=%2farts_movies%2f. Retrieved 2007-11-11. 
  11. ^ "Honor roll:Science Fiction books". Award Annals. 2007-08-15. http://www.awardannals.com/wiki/Honor_roll:Science_Fiction_books. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  12. ^ a b Grossman, Lev; Richard Lacayo. "Neuromancer (1984)". TIME Magazine All-Time 100 Novels. Time. http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/0,24459,neuromancer,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  13. ^ "1984 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1984. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  14. ^ a b Person, Lawrence (Winter/Spring 1998). "Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto". Nova Express 4 (4). http://features.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=99/10/08/2123255. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  15. ^ Fitting, Peter. "The Lessons of Cyberpunk". in Penley, C. & Ross, A. (eds.). Technoculture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. pp. 295–315. ISBN 0816619301. OCLC 22859126. "[Gibson's work] has attracted an audience from outside, people who read it as a poetic evocation of life in the late eighties rather than as science fiction." 
  16. ^ Adams, Tim; Emily Stokes, James Flint (2007-08-12). "Space to think". Books by genre. The Observer. http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/sciencefiction/story/0,,2146989,00.html. Retrieved 2007-10-26. 
  17. ^ Elhefnawy, Nader (2007-08-12). "‘Burning Chrome’ by William Gibson". Tangent Short Fiction Review. http://www.tangentonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1125&Itemid=165. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  18. ^ "“Neuromancer” page". Williamgibsonbooks.com. http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/books/neuromancer.asp. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  19. ^ Irvine, Martin (1997-01-12). "Postmodern Science Fiction and Cyberpunk". http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/technoculture/pomosf.html. Retrieved 2006-11-23. 
  20. ^ Mark Neale (director), William Gibson (subject). (2000). No Maps for These Territories. [Documentary]. Docurama. 
  21. ^ van Bakel, Rogier (June 1995). "Remembering Johnny". Wired (3.06). http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/3.06/gibson.html. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  22. ^ de Haven, Tom; Jensen, Bruce (August 1989). Neuromancer. Marvel Enterprises. ISBN 0-87135-574-4. 
  23. ^ Jensen, Bruce (1989-11-01). Neuromancer. Berkley Trade. ISBN 0425120163. 
  24. ^ "Neuromancer graphic novel". Antonraubenweiss.com. http://www.antonraubenweiss.com/gibson/gallery/neuromancer-graphicnovel/gn00.html. Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  25. ^ Buwalda, Minne (2002-05-27). "Voyager". Mediamatic.net. http://www.mediamatic.net/article-5817-en.html. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  26. ^ "Chris Cunningham - Features". directorfile.com. http://www.director-file.com/cunningham/feature.html. Retrieved 2006-11-23. 
  27. ^ "Neuromancer Coming To The Big Screen". comingsoon.net. http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=20507. Retrieved 2007-05-18. 

Bibliography

  • McCaffery, Larry (1991). Storming the Reality Studio: a casebook of cyberpunk and postmodern science fiction. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. ISBN 9780822311683. OCLC 23384573. 

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Startide Rising
by David Brin
Hugo Award for Best Novel
1985
Succeeded by
Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
Nebula Award for Best Novel
1984

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

It has been suggested that this article or section should be merged with William Gibson. (Discuss)

Neuromancer is an early cyberpunk novel by William Gibson.

Contents

Narrator

  • The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
  • A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he'd taken and the corners he cut in Night City, and he'd still see the matrix in his dreams, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colourless void... The Sprawl was a long, strange way home now over the Pacific, and he was no Console Man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he'd cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, hands clawed into the bedslab, temper foam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn't there.
  • At some point he realized that he had began to play a game with himself, a very ancient one with no name, a kind of final solitare.
  • Threading his way through the crowds, he could smell the stench of his own stale sweat.
  • The damage was minute, subtle, and utterly effective.
  • It was difficult to transact legitimate business with cash in the Sprawl; in Japan, it was already illegal.
  • Night city was like an experiment in social Darwinism designed by a bored researcher who kept his thumb permanently on the fast forward button.
  • Her body language was disorienting, her style foreign. She seemed continually on the verge of colliding with someone, but people melted out of her way, stepped sideways, made room. "How you doing, Case?" He heard the words and felt her form them. She slid a hand into her jacket, a fingertip circling a nipple under warm silk. The sensation made him catch his breath. She laughed. But the link was one way. He had no way to reply.

Case

  • Rent me a gun, Shin?
  • Now that... That is so much bullshit.
  • Not if I remember to take my pills.
  • Iffy... It's all looking very iffy tonight.

Ratz

  • You are too much the artiste, Herr Case... You are the artiste of the slightly funny deal.
  • Now, some night, you get a little too artistic, wind up in a clinic tank, spare parts.
  • An angel passed.

Molly

  • One live body, brains still somewhat intact. Molly, Case. My name's Molly.
  • 'Cept I do hurt people sometimes, Case. I guess it's just the way I'm wired.
  • Anybody any good at what they do, that’s what they are, right? You gotta jack, I gotta tussle.

McCoy Pauley

  • Hey, boy, I was that good when I was alive. You ain't seen nothin'.
  • Real motive problem, with an AI. Not human, see?

Others

  • The cores know everything. (3Jane)
  • Measure twice, cut once. (Zion Founder)







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