Neuromancer: messing with our brains since 1984

Posted 13 Feb 2018 by Writing Squad in Writing Squad Reviews

Continuing our occasional series of book reviews by members of the Writing Squad, Jack Mann writes about a book which defined part of the modern world and has, in some ways, messed with all our brains...

"William Gibson’s Neuromancer is an ambitious tech-noir thriller that explores through the lens of Henry Case, a fallen-from-grace computer hacker, the consequences of assimilating binaries – namely flesh/synthetic, feeling/thinking, suicidal tendencies/the need to get paid. Neuromancer is William Gibson’s first full novel, first published in 1984 as the first of The Sprawl Trilogy set in the not-too-distant future.

NeuromancerI enjoy Neuromancer’s prescience. Gibson coined the term ‘cyberspace’ in this novel and even with the manifestation of the internet as we now know it in the line: ‘a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation’, he doesn’t see himself as a science fiction writer. Gibson is also an inadvertent literary sartorialist, where his depiction of The Sprawl’s technologically augmented Molly Millions single-handedly sparked the ‘cyberpunk’ fashion sub-culture – including The Ghost in the Shell manga and The Matrix films’ character outfits.

‘He saw that her hands were sticky with blood. Back in the shadows, someone made wet sounds and died.’

I delight in Neuromancer’s B-movie pulp. The sex and the violence are graphic, the dialogue is often overly hep and how the story plays out improbable. Further, Gibson’s prose can become so frantic, so simultaneously nebulous and anachronistic, that it can be near impossible to decipher some scenes. And yet, at its best, Neuromancer is equally inspired, incisive and idiosyncratic.

“I know how you’re wired.”

Ultimately, this novel is about (faulty) connections. Whether that’s Case and Molly’s relationship, or Case ‘jacked in’ to cyberspace, Gibson prefers to learn and assimilate with the other than be ignorant, intolerant, or, indeed, subjugated by it. Through the tempered glass, Neuromancer is as much an open-minded reflection on its present as it is a dystopic vision of a possible future that increases in salience the more I work with both people and computers."

Block Jack MannJack MannJack Mann writes for his voice and speaks both pre-written and also improvised pieces, often with musicians he’s just met.  His poem Block explores 11 one on one reactions with urban environments and the people within them.


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