Gibson was a man of the 80s, and the 80s were all about technology. The decade popularized the home computer, the VCR, and the video arcade—the grandparents of the tablet, Blu-ray player, and video game console. But while most people were trying to get the high score on Pac-Man, Gibson was wondering how technology like Pac-Man would affect humanity and vice versa. Would new technologies fundamentally alter what it means to be human or is the core to humanity deeper in our being, beyond the world-changing grasp of gadgetry? It's one of the many questions that set Gibson on the path to writing Neuromancer. Good thing, too, because Billy Mitchell's world record Pac-Man score of 3,333,360 would have been difficult to beat.
Questions About Technology and Modernization
- How do we see the different social and economic classes using future technology in the novel? Based on these conclusions, what can we infer about the role of computers and machines in the society of the future?
- Would you say the novel's overall attitude toward computer advancements is positive or negative? Both? Neither? How can you tell?
- Any technology will come with its fair share of hiccups and 404 errors. Where do we see technology failing in Neuromancer? What effect do these failures have on your reading of technology in the novel?
- What aspects of Gibson's cyberspace are different from today's World Wide Web? What technological advancements did Gibson miss altogether? Now, for fun, how would you rewrite Neuromancer given these differences? Would these changes significantly change the effect and/or purpose of the novel? Why or why not?
Chew on This
Gibson is ambiguous on the computer's ultimate role in human development and evolution. His goal was to get his readers to think about the subject, not to hand out easy answers to the question.
The machines in Neuromancer are not fundamentally different than our own tech. It only seems that way because it was imagined on a grander scale.