Reviews

“Johnny Mnemonic” (1981) and related work:

“Johnny Mnemonic” (1981)

William Gibson (writer).

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“Burning Chrome” (1982)

William Gibson (writer).

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Neuromancer (1984)

William Gibson (writer).

The foremost example of its genre, and a logical extension from Bester’s The Stars My Destination (1956) via Brunner’s Stand on Zanzibar (1968). Gibson reduces Bester’s supernatural powers into the ambiguous holographic projections of Peter Riviera, and—brilliantly!—has no grand premiss to replace them or Brunner’s genetics. Like both Bester and Brunner, Neuromancer contains very little science, and like Bester, it still manages a little action on a cosmic scale. Bester’s Foyle travels to Aldebaran; Gibson’s Case hears of the liberated AI identifying an extrasolar peer; Brunner’s Shalmaneser does neither. The main take from Brunner is to look at the world around you and extrapolate, bringing everything at least forty years ahead as an exercise in literature. This leap, within the bounds of reason, is evidently challenging to attempt and impossible to get just right.

Case, like Batty in Blade Runner (1982), has his Christian subtext, but Gibson does even this better than his predecessors, in both style and content. No flying cars or inexplicably unidentifiable androids here. No shiggy circuit or mucker problem. Gibson’s future world made more sense than any other writer’s in his time. That may not be an end in itself, but it’s damned impressive.

References here: Altered Carbon (2002).

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“New Rose Hotel” (1984)

William Gibson (writer).

Human resources. Megacorporations dominate world markets not through individual technologies but with the greatest geniuses.

References here: Blindsight (2006).

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‣‣ New Rose Hotel (1998) IMDb

A sleazy techno-thriller with a few big-name actors. I’m somewhat surprised at how much they kept of the original short story, but in terms of pacing, this is not on Gibson’s horizon. A lot of filler, repetition and budget-conserving tricks; not much happening.

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Count Zero (1986)

William Gibson (writer).

Gibson has admitted to the superficiality of the Voodoo motif. Alas, it is a severe weakness, covering a failure to imagine or even decide what would happen as a consequence of the events in Neuromancer.

References here: “The Fast Track” (2001), “Metalhead” (2017).

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Mona Lisa Overdrive (1989)

William Gibson (writer).

A slow salute to “The Aleph” (1945), largely disconnected from the rest of the Sprawl trilogy.

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Johnny Mnemonic (1995) IMDb

William Gibson (writer).

In 2021, a courier can carry “nearly 80 gigs of data” in his head.

Though Gibson wrote the screenplay, it is worse than the original. It doesn’t even bother to update the ideas. Unsurprisingly, as of 2018, 80 GB can be smuggled around a lot more easily.

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