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Neuromancer and Blade Runner



by William Gibson


Thirty years ago, the Internet didn’t exist and neither did cyberspace.  The notion that you could “jack” into a digital universe and affect changes through virtual manipulation was non-existent.  In 1984, at the time of publication, this was pure fiction.  Now it is almost fact. Not only have Gibson’s techno-fantasies come true, but his work, as well as films like Blade Runner (based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by Phillip K. Dick, 1968) have led to Ex Machina and a host of others films and books in which technology seems to have the upper hand.


Neuromancer is full of inventive vocabulary, simultaneously making it hard to follow and giving it a cool, slick vibe.  The characters are not very likeable, which initially makes it a little tricky to get invested in them.  They are buried under a mountain of gadgets and endless tech jargon, giving them a generic feel for the first few chapters.


However, once you get to know these virtual cowboys, assassins, ninjas, lunatics, pimps and drug dealers, you start to care a little and wish that they would make better choices. They live in a bleak landscape in which few people have family ties or close, long lasting relationships.  There are no children in this world (at least not in this story), and old people have been surgically altered to look young.  This leaves us with a bunch of thirty somethings who are off the rails in one way or other.  Some are trying to save the world, some are trying to control it; all seem lost. 


The cold and lonely atmosphere is similar to that of Ridley Scott’s "Blade Runner".  I wouldn’t want to live in either world, but both make for a terrific tale of futuristic lunacy.  As we race through this landscape accompanied by drug addicted anti-heroes, power hungry artificial intelligence, misguided murderers and a host of others, we can be glad we live in the present.  In short, this is a story of late night adrenalin junkies on an impossible mission with little chance of success.  What could be better?


I love Gibson's cyberpunk, it's amazingly well-written and evocative. I have loved Ridley Scott's vision of Philip K Dick since it came out as well - thing is, Blade Runner came out in 1982, two years earlier than Neuromancer!

You are absolutely right. The movie Blade Runner is based on the book "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", which was published in 1968, so both the book and the movie came first. I need to pay more attention to my dates. :) Thanks for the correction. I have amended the post.