William Gibson’s Neuromancer Fits the Definition of Cyberpunk

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William Gibson’s Neuromancer Fits the Definition of Cyberpunk
 
 
 What is cyberpunk? What criteria must be entailed to fall into this category? In hopes of coming to an understandable definition  this elusive category of cyberpunk I turned to the article “Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction - Preface from Mirrorshades”, to illustrate how Neuromancer follows the cyberpunk category. The first part of the definition is the “certain central themes [that] come up repeatedly in cyberpunk. The theme of body invasion: prosthetic limbs, implanted circuitry, cosmetic surgery, genetic alteration. The even more powerful theme of mind invasion: brain - computer interfaces, artificial intelligence, neurochemistry - techniques radically redefining the nature of humanity, the nature of self” (346). Another aspect of cyberpunk that sets it apart from science-fiction is that “cyberpunk is widely known for its telling use of detail, its carefully constructed intricacy, its willingness to carry extrapolation into the fabric of daily life” (348). Lastly, to complete this definition is the use of “[m]any drugs, like rock and roll, are definite high-tech products” (346).  William Gibson’s Neuromancer fits this definition of cyberpunk because, there is extensive use of the theme of  body invasion, he uses explicit detail in the extrapolation of the matrix, and there is an important usage of drugs and music in the novel.

 In the beginning of Neuromancer when Molly first enters into the story one of the first description he uses is her mirrorshades, “ the glasses were surgically inset, sealing her sockets” (24).  The use of these glasses are an issue all the way to the end of the story when he realizes that, “I never even found out what color her eyes were” (268). I think that this is an important element in the story, because Molly is a very elusive character. The mere fact that her eyes remain hidden from virtually everyone signifies that she remains unattached and aloof. If the eyes are the doorway to your soul, then Molly was keeping the door shut. Maybe, this was to protect her from becoming too attached to anyone. In the article “Preface form Mirrorshades”, it is stated “[b]y hiding the eyes, mirrorshades prevent the forces of normalcy from realizing that one is crazed and possibly dangerous” (344). If that was the reason that Molly’s eyes were covered then it possibly was more of a way for her to fit the character of the bodyguard, and tough girl.

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 The intricate use of extrapolation through the matrix and other planets is exhausting throughout this novel. I found myself confused as to whether they were in actual reality, virtual reality or dreaming. The line between virtual reality and reality was so distorted that I am not even sure that to some extent virtual reality was their reality. That is where Case would go to ease the pain of his drug induced hangover (120).There is also the use of subliminal hallucinations to further separate reality from some type of altered reality, and their dreams seem to be another source of confusion. Here Gibson defines what the matrix as “ the cyberspace matrix was actually a drastic simplification of the human sesorium, at least in terms of presentation, but simstim itself struck him as a gratuitous multiplication of flesh input” (55). At this point  I feel that things become surreal, imagine “jacking in” to some machine to feel human emotions. To me that seems completely irrational, and distant; it would seem that you could possibly loose the ability to feel real emotions. I think Case was experiencing something of that sort throughout the book. He would turn to drugs or to the computer for his emotional need.

 The final criteria for cyberpunk that Gibson has throughout the entire book is the use of drugs, and I think strategic placement of music in this novel. If there is one constant in Neuromancer it is the use of drugs for everything from medicinal use to pure pleasure. I suppose that since there is the capability to replace any destroyed organ that takes the seriousness from drug use. But, I think that this further illustrates the dulled sense of true emotions and feelings. Which may be another aspect to the use of the matrix, if your own senses are fuzzy you may as well use someone else’s if the opportunity arises. There is also the ongoing reference to music “Case noticed the music then. A music he didn’t know, all horns and piano” (210). This is playing when he enters the house of 3Jane, how appropriate to further alienate the human from the 3Jane. Music is an extremely powerful tool in separating people, places, and generations. Numerous categories of people are defined by what type of music they listen to. I think that the novel Neuromancer is an excellent book to be place in the cyberpunk  category. Because it meets all of the various criteria to be cyberpunk, and also adds an element of normalcy by placing the cowboy as the hero.

Works Cited

Gibson, William Neuromancer. New York, Ace. 1984.


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