In a cyber-punk version of our world, an outlaw computer hacker is given the opportunity to get back into his field of expertise. Through a series of events, he discovers the true purpose of his mission: to unlawfully unite the two halves of a super-AI entity. The events that transpire are those that can only be described as a cybernetic rabbit hole of action.
That was my attempt, to the best of my ability, to summarize Neuromancer in my own words as concisely as I could without trying to rewrite the Wikipedia summary. It was extremely difficult to nail (what I believe to be) the key points of the novel. In all honesty, I believe trying to describe the plot in full would deter some readers away. I only say this because it feels as if every detail of the novel seems to matter to over-arching story that is being told. It sounds absurd when you have names like Lady 3Jane Marie-France Tessier-Ashpool, but this is what made reading the novel so captivating. Trying to connect every dot that has been laid out by Gibson leaves a story that becomes almost like a puzzle. It’s not the kind of novel that one can finish reading, and then think nothing of it. Gibson provokes the continuation of thought long after you have finished the book by leaving the reader with the questions of what it all really means when Case has ended up becoming part of the super-AI’s design.
It’s very difficult for me to pick a specific scene from the film because to be completely honest, I was pretty disappointed with it. As much as I would like to say it was a good film, I do not see it as an accurate adaptation of the novel. So much of the original content of the novel had been stripped down, perhaps for the sake of production costs and the time it was filmed in, but there was just too much missing. From the very beginning, there is a complete re-imagination of what I thought was quintessential to the story. Rick Deckard is not the down-on-his-luck cop depicted in early pulps, but he is more of a suave, grizzled freelancer. Harrison Ford would not have been my first choice to play Rick Deckard, as he just appears to be too much of the “action hero” arch type that I never imagined Deckard as while reading the novel. He has no wife and no electric sheep (it’s in the title of the novel, come on Ridley). This lack of authentic novel content continues throughout the film, where I believe it affects some of the themes that Dick was trying to draw upon, such as the relationship between man and the natural world with the absence of animals in the film, along with the role of the androids in this world. In the film, they are not trying to avoid capture, they instead want to discover their life span and whether or not it can be altered. In my opinion, it is just too much of a deviation to be considered as a retelling of the novel.
“Consider: A child has no psychosexual relationship to his mother and father. There is no myth of Oedipus on Winter. Consider: There is no unconsenting sex, no rape. As with most mammals other than man, coitus can be performed only by mutual invitation and consent; otherwise it is not possible. Seduction certainly is possible, but it must have to be awfully well-timed. Consider: There is no division of humanity into strong and weak halves, protective/protected, dominant/submissive, owner/chattel, active/passive. In fact the whole tendency to dualism that pervades human thinking may be found to be lessened, or changed, on Winter.” (Le Guin 94)
Despite the heavy emphasis on gender roles in the novel, I do not think this is supposed to be a novel that makes a political statement for feminism. I think what Le Guin was trying to do was to have readers start asking the questions about how one views gender. Ai comes to their world with hopes that they will see gender the way he does, but he realizes how difficult this will be when he sees how ingrained their practices are. Everything on this world, from the politics to the sexual practices, is influenced by this idea that there is no gender, and Ai must come to accept this if he is to succeed on Gethen in getting them to join the Ekumen. I think we are supposed to assume the position of Ai, in the sense that we are supposed to open our minds to the possibility that gender is not anything more than what we make of it.
“And after you die, sir?”
“Why, there will be successors—perhaps even yourself. And these successors will be able to apply the final touch in the scheme and instigate the revolt on Anacreon at the right time and in the right manner. Thereafter, events may roll unheeded.” (Asimov 46)
In this passage, Seldon is explaining to Gaal that he has been offered exile on another world. Gaal wants to know what will become of Seldon’s mission once he is gone. The way that I interpreted this passage was that Seldon is not taking responsibility for the future. This will fall on the future generations who will have to execute the real efforts of his plans with the Encyclopedia Galactica. This is an important observation Asimov makes of the way history is shaped. What Seldon devises could turn the 30,000 years of dark-ages into a fraction of the time, but he will not live long enough to see any of this come to fruition. His prediction of the fall of the empire isn’t for another 300 years, and in this world, prolonged/eternal life is not a possibility. So in order for his plans to work, it must be the future generations that carry it on. This is something that can be seen throughout our own history. The example that comes easiest to me is the birth of the United States. After becoming an independent nation, our forefathers could only lay the groundwork for the hundreds of years to come after, with the Constitution. It has been the duty of many who came after to work towards the long-term values they sought.