Tuesday, January 21, 2014

11 Interesting Facts About "Neuromancer"

In 1984, William Gibson's sci-fi novel Neuromancer was published. Ushering in the cyberpunk genre, Neuromancer told the story of a futuristic hacker working in a virtual environment known as "cyberspace." Its hallucinogenic imagery, decaying future, and computer oriented themes changed the face of science fiction. Here are some interesting facts you may not have known about its creation.

1. Gibson Sold Neuromancer Before He Even Thought Of It. - Editor Terry Carr was hired by Ace Books to launch a series of high-quality debut novels called the Ace Science Fiction Specials. Carr's strategy involved approaching sci-fi authors known for their short stories, and asking if they wanted to publish a novel. When Carr asked Gibson, Gibson agreed without an outline, a title, or even an idea what to write his novel about.

2. Neuromancer is Based on His Short Stories - Given the short amount of time he had, Gibson decided to write his novel based on stories he'd written before. The Sprawl first appeared in his short story "Burning Chrome," and Molly Millions first appeared in his story "Johnny Mnemonic."

3. Gibson Didn't Know How to Write Novels - William Gibson had written and published several short stories before Neuromancer, but was so inexperienced with novels that he didn't even know how long they were supposed to be. He had to ask some writer friends how many pages he would need, double-spaced. When he was told "three hundred pages," he was terrified.

4. Neuromancer Was Written in a Panic - Gibson described the writing process as "blind animal panic." It took him three months to write his short stories, so he thought a novel would take him four or five years. Yet his contract demanded the finished novel in a year. His goal was never to write an acclaimed novel, but just to produce something publishable.

5. Neuromancer Was Rewritten - Gibson was so afraid of losing the reader that he re-wrote the first two-thirds of the book twelve times.

6. Neuromancer vs. Blade Runner  - Gibson was a third into writing his novel when he went to see landmark cyberpunk film Blade Runner. Twenty minutes into the movie, Gibson "figured [Neuromancer] was sunk, done for. Everyone would assume I'd copped my visual texture from this astonishingly fine-looking film." Fortunately for Gibson, Blade Runner bombed at the box office.

7. Gibson Didn't Want a Trilogy - Gibson added the final sentence of the novel ("He never saw Molly again") at the last minute. The sentence was meant to be a deliberate attempt to keep from ever writing a sequel to Neuromancer, because he felt sequels would cheapen his work. Later, Gibson wrote two sequels, Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive.

8. Gibson Didn't Know Computers - Gibson knew almost nothing about computers when he wrote Neuromancer. He wrote the novel on a manual typewriter, and had never even seen a real computer before. He actually credits his ignorance with the success of the novel, because he was able to romanticize it. When he actually got a computer for the first time, he was disappointed by how ordinary it seemed.

9. Neuromancer Won the "Triple Crown" - Neuromancer became the first novel to win the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Philip K Dick Award. The Mail & Guardian described the achievement as "the sci-fi writer's version of winning the Goncourt, Booker and Pulitzer prizes in the same year."

10. Gibson Invented Cyberspace - It's often mentioned that the term "cyberspace" gained popularity from Neuromancer. However, Gibson didn't invent the term with Neuromancer. He actually first coined the term "cyberspace" in his novelette "Burning Chrome."

11. Gibson Doesn't Like Neuromancer - Today, Gibson actually has a low opinion of the novel. Gibson referred to the novel as "an adolescent's book", and later said about his younger self, "I'd buy him a drink, but I don't know if I'd loan him any money."

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