by William Gibson
I’ve been having nightmares for a week. Maybe it’s because the people who populate William Gibson’s book seem only half-human, with ports implanted in their necks and software programs running directly through their brains. Maybe it’s a main character, Case, who can kick his drug habit, but only after he resumes his biggest habit of all… plugging his brain into Cyberspace. And maybe it’s because I can look around at this technologically fixated world that seems bent on escapism, I can read about computerized artificial limbs, I can watch a scientist on TV who assures us that our eventual merging with computers will be the best of everything, and Gibson seems then like a fortune teller, a seer, given that he published Neuromancer in 1984 (not so long ago, but not so close either). This is a groundbreaking novel, with invented words like Cyberspace, with the idea of an imagined reality that connects us all through a neural net called the Matrix (yes, Gibson’s work was also the foundation for the movies). But outside the tech geek lingo, there’s a darker struggle for basic humanity in Case’s life. The juxtaposition of overpopulated and dangerous dark noire streets with the strange floating world of Cyberspace creates a textured world that is both phantasmal and rooted in harsh facts. And the questions of consciousness, freedom (is it the same as escape?) and love that Case must face, the struggles he carries on within and without, are both classic and newly modern themes that we in this tech heavy world know all too well.