Essays on Utopian Thought and Practice
Edited By Michael J. Griffin and Tom Moylan
Who’s Afraid of Dystopia? William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Fredric Jameson’s Writing on Utopia and Science Fiction
← 198 | 199 → PHILIPP SCHWEIGHAUSER
In the ominous year of 1984, William Gibson published an important dystopian assessment of America in the age of information technology.1 His Neuromancer depicts a world so fully permeated by electronic flows of information that the boundaries between empirical reality and its representation have become thoroughly blurred. Gibson’s characters live in a world of simulations and commodified subjectivities they fully take for granted. The first sentence of Gibson’s cyberpunk novel already registers the complete obliteration of anything we could confidently call nature: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” (9).2 That this is not merely a metaphorical description of a gray sky but a representation of a technologically produced “reality” becomes clear when the color of the sky in Freeside, a zero-gravity holiday resort, is described as “the recorded blue of a Cannes sky” that can be “turned off” (148).
Neuromancer’s fictional world is a thoroughly dystopian space in which ecocide has already occurred. It is a world in which the “real” sky is a “poisoned silver sky,” horses are extinct, and rats grow to the size of ← 199 | 200 → small children (13; 112–13). Gibson’s characters are fascinated and repulsed, elevated and diminished by conspiratorial webs of information of a truly global order – an order that is dominated by ruthless multinational corporations and their vast informational grids. Gibson’s fictional subjects surgically enhance their bodies with inorganic prostheses or organic implants readily available...
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