Neuromancer: Time Vertigo

I’m OK with the new words and old words used in new ways, I’m OK with the technology-machinistic nature of people, places and things.  BUT, the context of time seems to be notably missing from Neuromancer. I’m not sure why, even now, I still feel the need to have this context.    It’s pretty clear things move along pretty quick, but still Gibson teases with little tidbits but never really lets me pinpoint when this is all taking place. There is a strange juxtaposition of old and new things which I try to interpret and assign meaning to but fall short of (maybe I shouldn’t be trying to?). But what I find particularly unsettling is that time does not seem to progress singularly, in an ordered linear fashion (maybe the simstin?). For some reason, not being able to pinpoint a time that this takes place, makes it hard to for me to visualize people, places and things – arrange things in my mind. Additionally, some of the imagery presents conflicting information because when the book was written, many of the things did not exist, but came later, well after the book was published!

I think I’m getting time vertigo! The resulting cognitive dissonance is not only unsettling, but makes it difficult for me to follow what’s going on, who’s who and where they really are (meat vs matrix). I find myself re-reading passages over and over, as if doubting my understanding, interpretation. I’m pretty close to the end of the book now and have a pretty good grasp of these things, but it sure has taken a lot of reading!!!

I’m only going to discuss the instances in chapters 7-12 for the sake of brevity (or at least the attempt of).

Travel Agent Anyone?

The Mercedes, train and tug: I find it odd that they are driving a car when they have technology to enter the matrix and rebuild a man (think Bionic man, “we can rebuild him, we have the technology” Armitage reminds me of the Bionic Man, maybe the Cold War reference, military?).

He never really says how fast the trains are, though I would hope they’d beat a bullet train hands down. The most unsettling mode of transportation is the tug. The modes of transportation seem oddly juxtaposed with the current technology, perhaps as a comparative contrast to highlight the technology?



Their rooms, in Chiba (ch 1) and in Beyoglu (ch7) are called coffins. Yet this type of accommodation would not come about until much later after the book was published. The coffins probably looked like these capsule hotels, albeit with a portal. Not sure two people would fit in there though! But after a day in the matrix, might be just the right thing!

matrix - all vegan, no meat!


I found this picture of the matrix, to help erase the persistent (and nagging) image I purposely didn’t post. I’m still trying to visualize the construct Flatline and Wintermute (because they seem to have more personality than the real people).


Allusions (and foreshadowing) to some really old stuff:

Zion: Is this the old Jerusalem or new Jerusalem? Is this a future world?

Jules Verne: Could this be a tribute to one of the greatest Sci-Fi writers? Or did he share Verne’s dislike of the French?

Marcus Garvey Tug:  “Our union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… let us hold together under all climes and in every country…” foreshadowing Wintermute and Neuromancer?

To sum it up ….

Gibson’s shifting in and out of time:

  • meat vs matrix
  • old icons vs new icons
  • presenting new things before they were ever invented and trying to read it from the perspective of someone reading it when it was first published (quixotic quest)
makes it hard to pinpoint a time, makes it difficult to follow. Gibson presents conflicting images and imagery that make time elusive for me. I still feel like I need to understand how time is working (other than everything moves fast, really fast) within some sort of context.

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