Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Gibson Questions

Read Neuromancer online

The science fiction genre influences our use of language, our understanding of culture, and our attitudes toward technology. Technology becomes more visible in a novel like Neuromancer. William Gibson's novel can explore the facets of technology, both real and imaginative, and bring it to the forefront of his plot. Because he is one of the first to write about the web, he in fact makes up words, such as cyberspace and microsoft that are now integral to society. Our understanding of culture changes through the use of the science fiction genre because it is infused in a world that is different from what we know. Technology changes our viewpoints on what is normal and acceptable. People can no longer escape technology, they have had to change their attitudes because the world is changing. Email is replacing "snail mail", the web has expanded all around the world (William Gibson, pictured at left).

Technology seems to limit the humanity of the characters in Neuromancer. The more technology that Case and the others have access to, they appear less human. Cosmetic surgery, additions, chips, all add to humans becoming more like machines. Humanity becomes a weakness, a sign of frailty. Reality becomes something unattractive to people. Case, especially, uses drugs to escape reality and his own humanity. He, at several points in the novel, is suicidal. Life is not something Case particularly values; he will give it up, because it is easier to die, than to live. Gibson uses rage and anger as a purpose behind action. The characters are so numb and apathetic, that it takes extreme anger or rage to motivate them.

Because this novel was written over twenty years ago, it is in some ways prophetic. Gibson uses words that will in time expand from use only in the science fiction genre to everyday vocabulary. The novel is not meant to be taken as an image of the future, but rather an idea of what could be. Neuromancer is a cynical view of the world taken over by a dependence on technology. Can we recognize ourselves in the characters? Is this what we will become? are questions that Gibson asks throughout the novel. However, Gibson allows the reader to see the hope that he still has in humanity and also the value of technology, through the journey of Case. While Case does not want to embrace his flaws, he is unable to refute his own mortality and this essential connection to humanity.

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