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Archive for September 10th, 2010

‘Johnny Mnemonic’ by William Gibson

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‘Johnny Mnemonic’ (1981) is very much a dry run for Gibson’s famous debut novel, Neuromancer (1984). The protagonist is a young man, disaffected and detached. He has a valuable technical skill which powerful criminal interests are using to hold him over a barrel. He is aided by Molly, a razorgirl (and irksomely trad combo of mother and whore). He triumphs over organised crime with the assistance of some colourful street tribes. He makes friends with a smack-addicted ex-Naval Intelligence dolphin. Wait, that last one only happens in the story…

‘Johnny Mnemonic’ is more of a scene than a story. I’ve already written about the way the story immerses the reader and immersion is the intent here; we enter after the story has begun and leave before the story has finished but in that period we have learnt the world. Although the plot rehearses Neuromancer, it is relatively perfunctory and Gibson is more interested in Johnny as an inhabitant of the Sprawl than in Johnny himself. I think we can safely say that is something that has remained true throughout his career.

Quality: ****
Hardness: **

Written by Martin

10 September 2010 at 16:59