Transhumanism in William Gibson’s “the Neuromancer”
English and Literature
Submitted By rayoood
The Neuromancer has a major significance in cyberpunk fiction and is one of the early contributors in making it a mainstream. It also brought on some of its lingo and ideas such as, “cyberspace”. This importance didn’t happen to be as soon as it was published in 1984; however, it took several years to establish its place and popularity. The Neuromancer was unique and different from most science fiction works at the time thus establishing cyberpunk as a legitimate sub-genre. In this book, Gibson graphically describes the lifestyle, values and culture of a post-human society, which it is what this essay tries to explore.
For Humans to become an entity which is very existence is dependent on technology is a scary idea. However, this fear is completely absent in this book. Instead, it is obvious that Gibson’s take on the subject is somewhat favorable to the idea of cooperation between man and machine and it should not be seen as an evil or bad thing. It’s like it was meant for humanity and technology to merge together.
From enhanced reflexes to built-in holographic projectors, the characters in his book have undergone several body enhancements and modifications to give them the edge in this technological future. One example is Molly Millions, a main character, has many modifications and enhancements done to her body making her a walking death 1 machine. One of these modifications is the vision enhancing mirror lenses. Since her eye sockets are sealed with these mirror lenses, her tear ducts are re-routed to her mouth; therefore, on the rare occasion of her crying, she either spits out her tears or she may swallow them. In addition, Molly never lets anyone touch her lenses as they might leave fingerprints which require extra cleaning.
These two issues are not the only problems related to her eyes enhancements; moreover, they are part of the reason why she has trouble connecting emotionally to others and forming healthy relationships. This brings up the question of whether these many modifications to her body make her something else other than human or not, since she cannot even normally interact and live with regular human beings. This question also applies to Armitage a.k.a Colonel Willis Corto who had his own personality augmented by an AI after he had gone insane.
On the other hand, there are AIs in the book who think, form relationships and have plans for the future. According to “I think therefore I am”, aren’t these AI’s, such as wintermute and Neuromancer, have the right to be considered sentient beings? These questions are still not answered, however, in book’s universe it appears that augmented humans and AIs are an integral part of society.
Lastly, this book delves into several interesting topics and themes notably, Transhumanism. However, the ideas of being more than human and accepting AIs to be part of society evoke many questions and concerns. To the contrary, these concerns seem to be absent from the world of book as can be noted by the myriad of people with
various enhancements which suit each individual’s place and function in that society. The same goes for AIs who manage many aspects of that society.