1 minute read


Neuromancer, films noirs

a science fiction term, used to define a loose movement of 1980s writers whose works anticipated the effects of the high-tech computerized world to come. The term was taken by editor Gardner Dozois from the title of a short story by Bruce Bethke and applied by him primarily to novels by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling to designate work which embraced the new cybernetic world-environment, while simultaneously debunking the long-held cultural assumption in American popular literature that heroic inventiveness would win the day. The central text espousing this vision is Gibson's Neuromancer (1984), a novel whose hero is a ‘cyberspace cowboy’ (an information thief) who electronically penetrates a world-encompassing computer net in search of data he can steal. His experiences inside the ‘virtual reality’ of the network and his punkish indifference to politics, power, or ethical issues signals an equally relevant message offered by cyberpunk writers: that the heroic autonomy of ‘Western Man’ counts for little now that he has become symbiotic with a world-system driven by data. Cyberpunk writers tend to use imagery and plot-lines abstracted from the doomladen films noirs of the 1940s. Gibson and other cyberpunk writers such as K. W. Jeter, Rudy Rucker, Lewis Shiner, John Shirley, and Walter Jon Williams have set out to demonstrate the possibilities of a new hightech world rather than scientific extrapolation for its own sake. The movement became a marketing term by about 1987, and derivative texts continue to be published, especially in the USA, but none of its originators any longer admit to the label.

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Cwmfelinfach (Cŏomvĕlĭnvahχ) Monmouthshire to Walter de la Mare Biography