Friday, July 23, 2010


Yeah! Neuromancer was great! William Gibson's iconic SciFi novel from the 80's is loaded with imagery, and ideas that seem to have been ripped off, wholesale, by all kinds of cyberpunk and science fiction movies, books and TV shows. Gibson is know for his cyberpunk stories, and comes early into this tradition in the 80's--along with others--and helped to create a new sub-genre. The Disney movie Tron was one of the earlier in cyberpunk stories, in 1980. But who knows, Gibson and some of the others could have been well into their stories by then. I'm sure someone knows more about this than me.

Cyperpunk was first coined by Bruce Bethke, in his 1980 short story of the same name, originally published in AMAZING Science Fiction Stories. AMAZING had a good run, but after dying a number of times, it died again in 2004. No word yet on whether it will be revived. Yet again. [Sounds like the makings of a story.]

This book has been published/re-printed over and over again, with new covers to meet the style needs of the day. This was one of the books featured in an article about the history of SciFi in book covers, which I wrote about here. There may be making a movie in the works according to the online hum. Rumors include Hayden Christensen for a role, but who knows. And Disney has announced a remake of Tron called Tron: Legacy for Christmas this year.

So as you can imagine, if you've read any cyberpunk or seen Tron, a chunk of this story takes place in cyberspace, but not too much. The main characters are very real, live in a real place, and deal with real problems. What our main protagonist would call 'meat'; shorthand for issues of the flesh rather than the clean, neural interface with the net. What so great is: he can't escape the meat, and its what gives him the most trouble really. Internet use is like a drug, an addiction that he needs to survive, and he'll do almost anything for the next fix. The addictiveness of the behavior seems to be a sub-theme of the story, and given when it was written, seems to me remarkably foresighted.

This story asks lots of interesting questions about what the future of technology, computing and artificial intelligence will mean for mankind. Some of those we're dealing with right now, and others aren't too far off. I can see why this story has had such holding power for nearly 30 years; It seems very current.

Read this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Say it, I want to hear it...