neuromancer by william gibson

The Internet needs no definition. From the desk of Tim Berners Lee to the present day Web 2.0 phenomenon, the Internet has grown to become the global medium for mass communication. It is a live network that is forever expanding, forever intensifying and more importantly, it is forever engaging. But how engaging can Internet become for a person? Can Internet evolve into a highy addictive model for a human being so much so that it becomes absolute necessity? It may not be so now, but in the future it is possible according to the book Neuromancer by William Gibson, who is better known as the person who coined the term CYBERSPACE.

Set in the not so far future, Neuromancer is about a wannabe ubergeek named Case. He lives in a world that is saturated with ubiquitous technology. Cities are no longer metropolises - they have developed into urban sprawls. People no longer log in to the Internet - they use neural jacks to directly plug in their brains so that they can visualize whatever they encounter inside the "Matrix", today's version of the Internet. Although the book does not portray a commoner's lifestyle in detail, it shows how society is surviving under complex atmosphere created due to corporate pressure because in Neuromancer, multinational companies are the true rulers of the society.

Case lives in the backyards of Chiba, a suburb of Tokyo. It is a dark world - the streets are hangouts for sex agents, drug addicts and brokers selling blackmarket body parts. Case used to be a talented hacker, working for companies who employed him in order to steal valuables of other companies. In one of his missions, Case tried to steal money from his employers, who then took revenge by damaging Case's brain and his central nervous system rendering him unable to gain access to the matrix. The matrix is everything for case - and seeing no future without being able to jack in again, he comes to Chiba with hopes of repairing his damaged body. After a lot of unsuccessful attempts at buying replacement parts, Case runs out of money, thus forcing himself to live at the backstreets of Chiba.

The story begins when a person called Armitage offers him job as a hacker - with an offer to repair his body parts. Case instantly agrees and teaming up with Molly, also recruited by Armitage, he is all set to begin his new life. Molly is not an ordinary girl - her body is cybernetically enhanced with biometric surgeries of all kinds. Her nails contain hidden razors, her reflex system is faster and her face is enhanced so as to protect her eyes. She is swift for a warrior, skilled for a number of combats - which is why she's been dubbed a street-samurai. As the story unfolds, Case and Molly develop a personal relationship and go on a number of adventures around the world working for Armitage. Later they begin to secretly inquire into the life of Armitage and come up with strange conclusions.

I am not a fan of science fiction stories and I can count the number of SciFi stories I have read so far (The Time Machine, Contact and Brave New World). Unlike the other three, this book portrays a strong and dark world that could be waiting human civilization in the very near future. I am referring to the society, depicted in Neuromancer, which is surviving directly under multinational companies. Today, governments are powerful enough to control the companies (big or small) within their jurisdiction - but there is limited or no law to check a manufacturing company from researching, practicing and selling new technologies. In fact this very limitation of the law could be the hidden key to large companies, with resource and expertise, to grow their technological prowess in the market. So how long will it take before large corporations begin to own technologies that surpass any government power? As such, would a company still want to remain under a government or wouldn't it want to become the new government itself? Neuromancer, thus, has an extremely valid plot that is convincing to its readers from every angle - be it the description of the Matrix, the street-samurai, or Wintermute (an AI that rivals the humans who created it).

I wonder whether The Matrix has anything to do with Neuromancer, especially because of the strange resemblance of cyberspace in both of these works. Wachowski Brothers could indeed reply!


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