Comparing the Works of William Gibson Term Paper

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William Gibson

Born in 1948 in South Carolina, William Gibson was to become one of the most prolific representative of science fiction and an exponent of what is to referred to as the cyberpunk genre in science fiction. Even if he did not actually defined the termed (it has been used previously, see below), William Gibson became the most recognized writer of cyberpunk and he created and defined the term cyberspace, a term with which we are becoming more and more familiar today. His book Neuromancer, written in 1984, won him international fame and recognition, as well as the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philipp K. Dick Award.

Of course, discussing William Gibson means discussing, however briefly, the concept of cyberpunk. Gibson did not actually invent the term: it was first used by Bruce Bethke somewhere in the 1980s as a title for one of his short stories. The term was created by juxtaposition and can be explained by the two terms that make it up, cyber and punk. The term describes "punk attitudes and high technology," usually criminal driven teenagers with a punk attitude using high technology to achieve their goals. More so, cyber punk described "a young, technologically facile, ethically vacuous, computer-assisted vandal or criminal." If we look at the basic meanings of the two terms, we will get an even better idea of what cyberpunk is about. If cyber comes from cybernetics, a science that studies "control and communication in the animal and the machine," punk describes an entire generation that found its roots in the Sex Pistol music and the general anarchistic attitude that many youths had embraced at the end of the seventies. The punk teenager is individualistic, anarchic, anti-social and rebel. If we look again at cyberpunk, we see that the term basically describes an ultratechnological rebel movement, a revolt, but a revolt done with and by high technology.

Not surprisingly, the action of the novel is set in 21st century Japan: in the 80s, Japan came to be seen in the United States as the place of ultimate technology, a place where the likes of Mitsubishi or Sony created new models of advanced technology and tools of the future. Additionally, setting the story in Japan means that Gibson is using some of the mystery that Japan has always meant for the Americans, a place of strange rules and codes, like the Samurai bushido code, and of strange traditions that the Westerners hardly ever understand.

The set is a decaying future society, where moral norms and rules seem to have been forgotten or neglected. Corruption rules everywhere and technology is used for evil purposes. In fact, this is one of the characteristics of Gibson's novel: technology is negative and only negative. Not only is it used for evil purposes, but, in fact, it seems to have taken over the human society, not so much in a Terminator view, but by controlling the very humans that have created and are using it.

The main character of the book is Case, a former hacker specialized in breaking security systems. Using technology for evil purposes has its downfalls and, caught stealing from his very own employees (from the very first chapters, as you can see, we have this theme: the negative use of technology. Case himself is not only a hacker, but a hacker who uses technology to steal from his own employees. Thus, we get a general impression that all moral norms have been abandoned and that advanced technology allows you to do anything. Somehow, it revolves around Dostoyevsky's quote "if God is dead, than anything is allowed." Paraphrased and adapted to the context, this could turn into "if there are no moral and social norms, then everything is allowed," including stealing from my employees), his access is restricted from the worldwide computer net. The act is somewhat symbolical: our character is practically ostracized from the society he lives in, one revolving around the all powerful net. Banning him from this means not only restricting his working possibilities, but also condemning him to isolation.

The plot follows his meeting with Armitage, a powerful and mysterious figure who helps him regain access to the net and society and places…[continue]

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