Why ‘Neuromancer’ Is One Of The Greatest Cyberpunk Novels

Posted Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 09:00 pm GMT -5 by

For many cyberpunk fans, ‘Neuromancer’ is the first cyberpunk novel and one of the greatest. It was published in 1984, long before the internet was created. There is a myth and joke that Al Gore invented the internet. However, William Gibson — the author of ‘Neuromancer’ — deserves more realistic credit for inspiring those first online pioneers. The novel won the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award and the Philip K. Dick Award.

Another major event in cyberpunk happened during the writing of ‘Neuromancer.’ Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ was released in theaters on June 25, 1982. When Gibson saw the film, he feared that the reception to his book would not be ideal because the atmosphere of the film was similar to some of his ideas. Fortunately for the history of literature, Gibson persevered and wrote a book that is one of the best cyberpunk novels, and one of the best novels of the 20th century, making Time magazine’s list of 100 best English-language novels written since 1923.

‘Neuromancer’ begins with the following line: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned
to a dead channel.” It effectively describes the setting of the novel in one line: a run-down, sprawled and broken world that has become addicted to video and cyberspace, a dangerous online virtual world where hackers can lose their lives if they are tripped up by high-security systems.

The protagonist in this novel is a computer hacker named Case. He is the ultimate anti-hero, a drug addict and a down-on-his-luck console cowboy who has a damaged nervous system that he desperately wants to repair. He is collected by Molly, an assassin with synthetic eye implants and razors grafted to her fingers. She takes Case to her employer, a mysterious man named Armitage, who offers to repair his nervous system damage in exchange for a job that requires his hacking abilities.

The novel describes corporations that have gone beyond the monopoly stage and entered a state of incestual perpetuity. Manipulative artificial intelligences try to influence Case and his team, and transform the very essence of cyberspace. Gibson’s powerful story of redemption in a dystopian world reminds us that no matter how bleak the world becomes, the human animal has a need to make the best of a bad situation, and the novel hints that if humans can’t find paradise here on Earth, they will seek out a virtual paradise.

According to a July 25 press release from Seven Arts Pictures PLC, the company is hooking up with Prodigy Pictures to jointly produce and distribute a film adaptation of ‘Neuromancer’ with a $60 million production budget. Vincenzo Natali is slated to write and direct the film. Natali is known for directing the 2009 movie ‘Splice’ and the 1997 thriller ‘Cube.’ The ‘Neuromancer’ film is expected to enter pre-production in the first quarter of 2012.