The Surreal World of William Gibson's Neuromancer


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The Surreal World of Neuromancer

 

Neuromancer, written by William Gibson, opens with the reference to a blank television screen. This symbol of an altered, incomplete world is made reference to throughout the novel. This altered world leads to a dystopia with technologically altered human beings sleeping in coffins, and dependent on drugs. Because of this harsh life, the people are left in a harsh world where they must learn to form friendships with others who can get them the supplies that they need. Though many things evolve throughout the novel to better the lives of the characters, the novel ends with the same reference to the blank television screen. It returns to the surreal, unidentifiable existence of what life is for these people.

 

Many of the people in this futuristic world have a type of AI, or Artificial Intelligence. The first introduction to this is the bartender. It is written that the "antique arm whined as he reached for another mug"(4). Though he has an artificial arm that is only about five years old, it is described as being an antique using the word whine to give it the characteristics of being old. This shows has fast technology improves and changes in their society. Molly is another prevalent character in the novel who has advanced eyes allowing her to see thing magnified and with great clarity. One character in particular, Wintermute, has an advanced mind. Though a computer, he can, by what seems to be telepathy, make people think and do things. These advances in their physical and mental characteristic causes the characters to question who they are. This affects their mental state.

 

The term coffin is used to describe the living quarters of the characters. As shown through Cases travels, there seems to be two different types of coffins; one being like a small cheap hotel and the other made up of a wall of small units to sleep in appearing to look like a morgue. The first could show how Case lives a confined life, closed in the tight confinement of the dystopia. In the second, the reference to death mirrors the enslaved lives of the people. They live a captive life restricted by a higher power who runs their world; which is Gibson's view of the futuristic Earth. This restriction of their lives adds to the dystopia.

 

Drugs play an important role in the lives of Molly and Case adding another dimension to their complex life styles.

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The affect of the drugs alters their existence even more. Instead of being on of the same mental level as a typical human, they are looking through the eyes of a drug induced being. Not only does the drug use affect these two character mentally, but it also affects their relationship with each other. Case mentions in the book a definite change in Molly after she begins to use. He, "watched her personality fragment, calving like an iceberg, splinters drifting away, and finally he'd seen the raw need, the hungry armature of addiction" (8). However, Case too was dependent. At one point in the novel he starts the night by taking a pill. It appears that the characters "high" becomes their image of life.

 

Throughout the course of the novel, the reference to the blank television screen can be seen through the lives of the character. Like the static picture of the television, the lives of the characters have no definition. They are altered with AI, bond by coffins, and live in a world altered by drug use. The novel then ends with the same illusion to the blank screen; like the characters in the novel it does not change. The characters learn about their surroundings, but they are still left to find their place in the world where they belong.


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