Effective Use of Color in William Gibson's Neuromancer


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Effective Use of Color in Neuromancer  

 

As I sit in my chair and type this essay, I am amazed to see myself staring into the computer next to me and wondering if William Gibson was indeed correct. The screen, which is a dark gray, has been put on "sleep mode" by Windows 98 but has not been powered off. It is not only the monitor that troubles me as I stare blankly into it, but rather, it is "the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." This is how Gibson touches the reader in Neuromancer. He uses images of colors with which the human eye is all too familiar, and, more specifically, he uses shades of these colors. One color, which particularly stands alone in Gibson's use and effectiveness, is gray. It represents so much in the novel and adds incredible dimensions beyond simple description.

 

With the opening line, the coloring reveals the nature of his futuristic Earth. "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." In the modern world, there are not too many people who do not know this color. The "snow" effect has been commonly used to describe it, as well as static, haze, and a number of other terms, but the color remains the same. It is the color of frustration, hopelessness and non-clarity, much like Case's world. There is very little hope left in Case's life as Gibson opens the novel, and within fifteen words, the reader is well aware of this fact.

 

Not only does the world continue a bleak existence, but so to do the main characters of the novel. Molly, for example, is a lost assassin. She is not physically lost but rather spiritually as she has turned into a killing machine. The only true way to describe it is cold-blooded. Her icy nature is revealed, once again, through the use of the color gray. Her eyes, or what is left of them, used silver, mirrored lenses. Just by her paratactic description, the reader syntactically knows her faults through her faulty vision. In addition to Molly, one other member of Case's team is flawed using the color gray. This is Armitage, or Corto. Armitage is merely a shell of a man created by an Artificial Intelligence. To indicate the instability of Armitage/Corto, Gibson shows Armitage in a gray business suit, which contrasts starkly to the image the reader sees of Corto's military days, where he would have worn a camouflaged uniform.

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The final use of coloring of Neuromancer is the main plot. Wintermute, a name which is very indicative of gray skies and bitter weather, guides Case and his band through very clever manipulating. Why, though, does an all-powerful AI need to use pawns his chess game? Because cold and gray (Wintermute) are nothing without the warmth and color that the tropical Riviera brings. Only with the compliments to his cold can the AI become truly all-powerful, which was his goal assigned by the mother of 3Jane. This goal, the union of color and gray, is necessary for a true human. Without color, one becomes cold and heartless, such as Molly or Wintermute, but without the gray, there is no judgment to balance the irrationality.

 

Gibson's bleak future may be indicative of where current technological progress is taking mankind, but there is a contrast to Gibson's world and our own. The world humans have today has the computer hacks and geeks, but there is also a compliment of artists, those who will provide soul to the world. Gibson even points this out by using Ratz, the bartender, to nickname Case. What counteracted the dystopia of Case's world? An "Artiste".


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