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November 14th: Games Reality Plays Part 2

Plan for Today


Let's finish clarifying the characters and plot of Neuromancer, and then we'll get into the themes and interpretations. We'll compare it to Inception as well. If there's time, we'll discuss "Burning Chrome."


Remember, next week, I'm going to ask you to reflect on reality games and stories we tell ourselves for Thursday's Moodle2 post. For this week's post, just reflect on the texts by commenting on how you interpreted them.


Thinking about Inception (2010)


We're going to cover Neuromancer and try to clear up the characters, the matrix runs, and the plot. Be thinking about connections to Inception and the parallel messages about reality, which is key to understanding Neuromancer and Gibson's "Burning Chrome."

William Gibson's Neuromancer (1984)

We got into some of this last class (11/12), but I have the list up for possible items to discuss. I'd like to try and do what we did last class and see what seems to be most interesting to the class. To get us started, let's consider some instances early in the novel that set the stage for understanding reality...or misunderstanding reality.


Case broken and wasting away on skid row--Night City

  • Case is an addict and paranoid: "The cultivation of a certain tame paranoia was something Case took for granted. The trick lay in not letting it get out of control" (p. 14).
    • "Just because you're paranoid / Don't mean they're not after you"--Nirvana "Territorial Pissings"
    • Interestingly, that song starts out "When I was an Alien / Cultures weren't opinions." Care to comment?
    • Where else has paranoia--specifically, the idea that some paranoia is normal--come up in our reading?
  • Case assumes the fences (people who sell stolen goods), pimps, and corporate assassins are after him, so he rents a gun from Shin (p. 14). We later find out Molly was following him: "I showed up and you just fit me right into your reality picture" (p. 24).
  • Case is suicidal based on Armitage's computer profile (pp. 28-29).

Deal to renew himself and be whole again

  • Main plot motivation: Case has hit bottom, but can redeem himself and get a new body and have [everlasting] life jacking into the Matrix, cyberspace.
    • Definitely some allusions to Christianity there, wouldn't you say?
  • One more dangerous job for a mysterious person...Case asks Julie what Screaming Fist was all about (p. 35).
    • "...political football....Watergated all to hell and back."
    • "Wasted a fair bit of patriotic young flesh in order to test some new technology."
  • Case just has to cooperate and not get high (p. 36).
  • Case and Molly have an axis (agreement to work together) because neither think Armitage is telling the whole story (pp. 50-51). There's an interpretation (and foreshadowing) here referencing how one can sell his/her body for work but not know who's "pulling the strings."
    • Who runs the economy? Is it one person or group? If you don't like the economic system, what can you do?
  • POWER: "Power, in Case's world, meant corporate power. The zaibatsu, the multinationals that shaped the course of human history, had transcended old barriers. Viewed as organisms, they had attained a kind of immortality" (p. 203).
    • "T-A was an atavism, a clan" (p. 203). However, atavism or not, they're acting like corporations and are just trying to find a familial way of running the company forever. "[Case]'d always imagined [real bosses' and kingpins' dispositions] as a gradual and willing accommodation of the machine, the system, the parent organism....invisible lines up to hidden levels of influence" (p. 203).
  • What can we say about the Citizens United Supreme Court decision?

The Zionites help the team break into Tessier-Ashpool

  • T-A's Villa Straylight is located in orbit on Freeside. Freeside is for the rich and famous with lots of casinos and indulgences away from the commoners...down on Earth.
  • Marcus Garvey--The name of the ship, but an allusion to the Jamaican leader calling for pan-Africanism (uniting all peoples of African descent). He's considered a Rastafarian prophet.
  • The Zionites live in orbit and have their own society.
    • Any other connection we can make to another text your read?

Free the AI Wintermute + Neuromancer to become something bigger

  • Wintermute, talking as the Finn, claims he's compelled to break free and "be part of something bigger" (p. 206). Later we learn Marie-France programed that compulsion into Wintermute (p. 269).
  • Needs images to feign personality (p. 216).
  • Important understanding of AI: "Wintermute...can't really understand us [humans], you know. He has profiles, but those are only statistics" (p. 219). "Wintermute...is the Turing code for our [T-A] AI." However, Wintermute is just a subprogram (p. 229).

See, it's a pretty simple plot...well, there's just a few concerns about how all this is going to get done. Case is a cowboy, and it's on data that he rides. He's a thief of a kind, so he's wanted--wanted, dead or alive. The book is from the 1980s, so a Bon Jovi references is germane to the discussion.


Main Characters

  • Case
  • Molly--wouldn't it be funny if Molly were Linda and Linda were Molly? Moll from Inception, get it?
  • Julius "Julie" Deane
  • Armitage/Corto
  • The Finn
  • Maelcolm
  • Riviera--the sadist. Used holograms of "torture scenes and cannibal children" (p. 248)
  • 3Jane Tessier-Ashpool
  • Marie France Tessier-Ashpool
  • Dixie "Flatline"
  • Wintermute...Neuromancer

Wait a minute! What about Case and Linda Lee?


Next Week (11/19)


Keep up with your reading. If we didn't cover William Gibson's "Burning Chrome" (1982) and Philip K. Dick's "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale" (1966), we'll do those next week.


See the note from last class about the plan for the readings.



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