by William Gibson
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Case often describes the world, people, and his own emotions in with computer and mechanical terms. And we mean often. Want proof? We've got it:
- The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel (1.1). (Yep, first sentence of the whole novel).
- And now [Case] remembered [Linda Lee] that way, her face bathed in restless laser light, features reduced to a code... (1.41).
- The drug hit him like an express train, a white-hot column of light mounting his spine from the region of his prostate, illuminating the sutures of his skull with x-rays of short-circuited sexual energy (12.38)
- But weren't the zaibatsus more like that, or the Yakuza, hives with cybernetic memories, vast single organisms, their DNA coded in silicon? (17.16)
And those examples are just off the top of our head. Of course there are many, many more to find. But why so many to begin with? There could be as many different reasons as there are people who read the novel. We're going to suggest two possibilities.
The computer and mechanical terminology tells us about Case as a character. The entire novel is told to us from his point of view. So it seems reasonable for us to assume that Case sees his world through a technological filter in his mind. Should Molly have been the focal character of the novel—or her own sections of the novel—it's possible the imagery would have been different.
Also, the imagery shows the fusion of machines with things we generally associate outside of technology (people, nature, the human body). By figuratively connecting these together through imagery, the novel suggests that the impact of machines like computers and TVs have on the world and the people inhabiting them is far greater than we initially perceive. They're inextricably intertwined. We have plenty more to discuss and question about this in the "Themes" section, so check it out.
Of course, there's always room for more than just these two possibilities. Did you think of something we missed? What other affects does the technological imagery have on your reading of the novel?