Cyberbaggage of the 80’s

William Gibson has been getting good press lately as he pushes his newest book: Zero History. He was also in the press in 2007 when Deborah Solomon interviewed him on occasion of the introduction of the novel Spook Country. Both of these books are set in the post 9/11 timeframe where the world has a surprising resemblance to the outrageous virtual reality of the Neuromancer trilogy written 25 years ago. As Gibson continues with his writing career the cyberbaggage of the 80’s is carried forward, and continues to make good fiction.

Neuromancer opens and we meet Case, a beat-up embezzler and former computer hacker who has been disabled by neurotoxins implanted as punishment by his former boss. Case is hanging out in a low-life expatriate’s bar in Japan:

“It’s not like I’m using.” Case heard someone say, as he shouldered his way through the crowd around the door of the Chat. “It’s like my body’s developed this massive drug deficiency.” It was a Sprawl voice and a Sprawl joke. …

Today the Sprawl has found its way to Iraq. This scene could be set in a Green Zone bar full of journalists and mercenaries as recently depicted in many TV documentaries and movies (think of The Situation, 2007 or Green Zone, 2010).

Molly Millions, aka Sally Shears, is Case’s bodyguard and cyberspace guide. She is a street fighter with augmented vision and implanted razors. The implants make her a prototypical cyborg and, strangely enough I think of Edward Scissorhands, 1990.

All this talk of cyborgs became less fictional in 2002 when a British scientist became the first living cyborg:

A Reading scientist has become the world’s first cyborg after undergoing an operation to fit his arm with a device that effectively makes him part-human, part-robot.
“Being a human was ok, I even enjoyed some of it. But being a cyborg has a lot more to offer,” joked Professor Kevin Warwick, of the University of Reading. “I’ve got a 100 pin plug which has been fired into the main nerve in my arm, two centimetres below my wrist. guardian.co.uk, Friday 22 March 2002 12.35 GMT

Reading and rereading Gibson’s novels is an adventure for the mind; I always wonder when and where his fictional musings will appear in news or movies.

Carto
Day 3: Neuromancer by William Gibson

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About carto

Retired software engineer who grew up in Montana, went to Montana State College in Bozeman, and moved to California to work at Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Carto's Library is about books I've read and liked; Carto's Logbook is about photography, travel and adventure. Mt. Maurice Times is tall tales mostly biographical.
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