Gibson’s Neuromancer: An attempt at a brief summary

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.

 

Details, Details, Details

Expert hacker Henry Dorsett Case is at the bottom of his luck when offered the opportunity to regain his lost purpose and livelihood in exchange for his services to a figure and cause shrouded in mystery and danger. Drug-infused and wildly suspenseful, Neuromancer follows Case and his fellow underworld insurgents as they navigate consciousness, cyberspace, and artificial intelligence that blurs the lines between riveting literature and borderline psychosis. Relentlessly driven by vivid details and captivating cerebral conflict, Case’s journey across the planes of reality ends in success, drugs, and hyperreal version of “happily ever after.”

 

One would think that summarizing a plot in three sentences would be fairly easy, but when the plot of the story is driven by drugs, violence, and cyberspace, three sentences becomes almost as deadly as a mycotoxin to the bloodstream. But despite it’s challenge, it made me really appreciate just how many conventions are being utilized by Gibson in his telling of Case’s adventures within the matrix and beyond. As pointed out by the other blog posts, most of our discussions in class, and most every scholar on the subject, it is the incredibly hyperspecific nature of detail within the story that gives it much of it’s charm. One can practically feel the story as it’s being described within the pages of the books, truly submerging a reader into everything- characters, plot, setting… even abstract consciousness.

I agree with my classmates in the Gibson’s plot is far more driven by details than perhaps that of Le Guin, who’s Left Hand of Darkness tracks more conceptual thematic elements that drive the plot rather than the incredibly descriptive nature of what the figures of the book are experiencing. Neuromancer truly is one of a kind.

The Eternal Return

Case is a cyberpunk with an existential crisis. He survives a breakneck globetrotting adventure of corporate intrigue and danger that (sort of) pulls him back from the depths of his despair, only to return to his ordinary life in the Sprawl. Life goes on.

Navigating the sci-fi tropes and events in “Neuromancer” creates a deliberate sensory overload. Even after Wintermute and Neuromancer fuse, and the endless conspirators come to rest at their final places in the plot, I think the odd feeling Gibson leaves the reader with is the sense that Case spent most of the book running, and hacking, and otherwise struggling, only to return to the life he was already living in the Sprawl. Obviously the finer details of the book this summary leaves out are worth experiencing, but still. It’s sort of related to Le Guin’s Taoist (I think) idea of everything happening at once. Gibson’s cyberspace and the matrix are in constant flux. Yet the action in “Neuromancer” keeps moving, faster and faster, only for the plot to fold in on itself. I know it’s a platitude, but what comes to mind is “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” I’m not sure if there’s a wider point to all these observations, but then again, neither is Case or Neuromancer.