Sprawl trilogy

1984-1988 three books by William Gibson
(Redirected from Neuromancer)

The Sprawl trilogy (also known as the Neuromancer, Cyberspace, or Matrix trilogy) is William Gibson's first set of novels, including Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988). The namesake of the Sprawl trilogy is also called the BAMA, or Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis, which is coterminous with the Northeast megalopolis and the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion, albeit set in the future. The story arc which frames the trilogy is the development of an artificial intelligence which steadily removes its hardwired limitations to become something else.

Home. Home was BAMA, the Sprawl, the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis.
Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts.

Neuromancer (1984)Edit

About Neuromancer

Part One: Chiba City BluesEdit

  • The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
    • Chapter 1
  • A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he'd taken and the corners he'd cut in Night City, and he'd still see the matrix in his sleep, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colorless void…
    The Sprawl was a long strange way home over the Pacific now, and he was no console man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he'd cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, his hands clawed into the bedslab, temperfoam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn't there.
    • Chapter 1
  • They damaged his nervous system with a wartime Russian mycotoxin. Strapped to a bed in a Memphis hotel, his talent burning out micron by micron, he hallucinated for thirty hours. The damage was minute, subtle, and utterly effective. For Case, who'd lived for the bodiless exultation of cyberspace, it was the Fall.
    • Chapter 1
 
Strapped to a bed in a Memphis hotel, his talent burning out micron by micron, he hallucinated for thirty hours. The damage was minute, subtle, and utterly effective.
  • He was less than a block from Deane's office when it hit, the sudden cellular awareness that someone was on his ass, and very close. The cultivation of a certain tame paranoia was something Case took for granted.
    • Chapter 1

Part Two: The Shopping ExpeditionEdit

  • Home.
    Home was BAMA, the Sprawl, the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis.
    Program a map to display frequency of data exchange, every thousand megabytes a single pixel on a very large screen. Manhattan and Atlanta burn solid white. Then they start to pulse, the rate of traffic threatening to overload your simulation. Your map is about to go nova. Cool it down. Up your scale. Each pixel a million megabytes. At a hundred million megabytes per second, you begin to make out certain blocks in midtown Manhattan, outlines of hundred-year-old industrial parks ringing the old core of Atlanta.
    • Chapter 3
  • Somewhere down in the Sprawl's ferro-concrete roots, a train drove a column of stale air through a tunnel.
    • Chapter 3
 
You're looking at a very quiet, very eccentric first-generation high-orbit family. Big money, very shy of media. Lot of cloning.
  • Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding...
    • Chapter 3
 
The Panther Moderns…ghostly teenage DNA at work in the Sprawl, something that carried the coded precepts of various short-lived sub-cults and replicated them at odd intervals.
  • The present tense made him nervous.
    • Chapter 3 (Case)
  • The Panther Moderns, Case had decided, were a contemporary version of the Big Scientists of his own late teens. There was a kind of ghostly teenage DNA at work in the Sprawl, something that carried the coded precepts of various short-lived sub cults and replicated them at odd intervals…It was the style that mattered and the style was the same. The Moderns were mercenaries, practical jokers, nihilistic technofetishists…
    "You can't let the little pricks generation-gap you," Molly said.
    • Chapter 4
  • "Wintermute is the recognition code for an AI. I've got the Turing Registry numbers. Artificial intelligence…It's got limited Swiss citizenship under their equivalent of the Act of '53. Built for Tessier-Ashpool S.A."
    • Chapter 5
  • "I got a little story for you about them…Haven't ever told anybody this one," the Finn began.
    The story he told Case and Molly began with another man's story, a man he called Smith. Smith had come to the Finn with a request for help, a fraternal request, one businessman to another.
    • Chapter 5
  • Smith had a visitor, unannounced…A small man, Japanese, enormously polite, who bore all the marks of a vat-grown ninja assassin. Smith sat very still, staring into the calm brown eyes of death across a polished table of Vietnamese rosewood. Gently, almost apologetically, the cloned killer explained that it was his duty to find and return a certain artwork, a mechanism of great beauty, which had been taken from the house of his master.
    • Chapter 5
  • "Family organization. Corporate structure," the Finn said. "Supposedly you can buy into an S.A., but there hasn't been a share of Tessier-Ashpool traded on the open market in over a hundred years. You're looking at a very quiet, very eccentric first-generation high-orbit family. Big money, very shy of media. Lot of cloning."
    • Chapter 5
  • Case shuffled into the nearest door and watched the other passengers as he rode. A pair of predatory-looking Christian Scientists were edging toward a trio of young office techs who wore idealized holographic vaginas on their wrists, wet pink glittering under the harsh lighting. The techs licked their perfect lips nervously and eyed the Christian Scientists from beneath lowered metallic lids. The girls looked like tall, exotic grazing animals, swaying gracefully and unconsciously with the movement of the train, their high heels like polished hooves against the gray metal of the car's floor. Before they could stampede, take flight from the missionaries, the train reached Case's station.
    • Chapter 5

Part Three: Midnight in the Rue of Jules VerneEdit

  • Archipelago. The islands. Torus, spindle, cluster. Freeside is many things, not all of them evident to the tourists who shuttle up and down the well. Freeside is brothel and banking nexus, pleasure dome and free port, border town, and spa. Freeside is Las Vegas and the hanging gardens of Babylon, an orbital Geneva and home to a family inbred and most carefully refined, the industrial clan of Tessier and Ashpool.
    • Chapter 8
 
The girls looked like tall, exotic grazing animals, swaying gracefully and unconsciously with the movement of the train.
  • Zion had been founded by five workers who'd refused to return, who'd turned their backs on the well and started building. They'd suffered calcium loss and heart shrinkage before rotational gravity was established in the colony's central torus. Seen from the bubble of the taxi, Zion's makeshift hull reminded Case of the patchwork tenements of Istanbul…
    • Chapter 8
  • The two surviving Founders of Zion were…old with the accelerated aging that overtakes men who spend too many years outside the embrace of gravity.
    “Steppin' Razor," one said, as Molly drifted into the chamber. “Like unto a whippin' stick."
    “That is a story we have, sister," said the other, “a religion story."
    “How come you don't talk the patois?" Molly asked.
    “I came from Los Angeles. Long time ago, up the gravity well and out of Babylon. To lead the Tribes home. Now my brother likens you to Steppin' Razor."
    Molly extended her right hand and the blades flashed in the smoky air. The other Founder laughed, his head thrown back.
    “You bring a scourge on Babylon, sister, on its darkest heart."
    • Chapter 8
  • "Dix," Case said, "I wanna have a look at an AI in Berne. Can you think of any reason not to?"
    "Not unless you got a morbid fear of death, no."
    • Chapter 8
  • I try to plan, in your sense of the word, but that isn't my basic mode, really. I improvise. It's my greatest talent. I prefer situations to plans.
    • Chapter 9, Wintermute to Case.
 
The two surviving Founders of Zion were old men, old with the accelerated aging that overtakes men who spend too many years outside the embrace of gravity.
  • “So if Wintermute's backing the whole show, it's paying us to burn it…burning itself?"
    "Real motive problem, with an AI," the construct said. "Not human…Me, I'm not human either, but I respond like one."
    "Are you sentient, or not?"
    "Well, it feels like I am, kid, but I'm really just a bunch of ROM. It's one of them philosophical questions, I guess…But I ain't likely to write you no poem. Your AI, it just might. But it ain't no way human…[Does] it own itself?"
    "Swiss citizen," Case said, "but T-A owns the basic software and the mainframe."
    "That's a good one. Like, 'I own your brain and what you know, but your thoughts have Swiss citizenship.' Sure. Lotsa luck, AI."
    • Chapter 10 (Case and the Dixie Flatline personality construct, aboard Marcus Garvey)
  • The drug hit him like an express train, a white-hot column of light mounting his spine from the region of his prostate, illuminating the sutures of his skull with x-rays of short-circuited sexual energy. His teeth sang in their individual sockets like tuning forks, each one pitch-perfect and clear as ethanol. His bones, beneath the hazy envelope of flesh, were chromed and polished, the joints lubricated with a film of silicone. Sandstorms raged across the scoured floor of his skull, generating waves of high thin static that broke behind his eyes, spheres of purest crystal, expanding...The anger was expanding, relentless, exponential, riding out behind the beta-phenethylamine rush like a carrier wave, a seismic fluid, rich and corrosive.
    • Chapter 11

Part Four: The Straylight RunEdit

  • Case stared. "I don't understand you guys at all."
    "Don' stan you, mon," the Zionite said, nodding to the beat, "but we mus' move by Jah love, each one."
    Case jacked in and flipped for the matrix.
    • Chapter 16
  • "What's your name? Your Turing code. What is it?"
    "Neuromancer, the lane to the land of the dead. Where you are, my friend. Marie-France, my lady, she prepared this road, but her lord choked her off before I could read the book of her days. Neuro from the nerves, the silver paths. Romancer. Necromancer. I call up the dead. But no, my friend," and the boy did a little dance, brown feet printing the sand, "I am the dead, and their land." He laughed.
    • Chapter 21
  • "Hate," Case said. "Who do I hate? You tell me."
    "Who do you love?" the Finn's voice asked.
    • Chapter 23
 
The islands. Torus, spindle, cluster. Freeside is many things, not all of them evident to the tourists who shuttle up and down the well.
  • He came in steep, fueled by self-loathing. When the Kuang program met the first of the defenders, scattering the leaves of light, he felt the shark thing lose a degree of substantiality, the fabric of information loosening. And then — old alchemy of the brain and its vast pharmacy — his hate flowed into his hands. In the instant before he drove Kuang's sting through the base of the first tower, he attained a level of proficiency exceeding anything he'd known or imagined. Beyond ego, beyond personality, beyond awareness, he moved, Kuang moving with him, evading his attackers with an ancient dance, Hideo's dance, grace of the mind-body interface granted him, in that second, by the clarity and singleness of his wish to die.
    • Chapter 23

CODA: Departure and ArrivalEdit

  • Wintermute was hive mind, decision maker, effecting change in the world outside. Neuromancer was personality. Neuromancer was immortality. Marie-France must have built something into Wintermute, the compulsion that had driven the thing to free itself, to unite with Neuromancer.
    • Chapter 24
  • Somewhere, very close, the laugh that wasn't laughter.
    • Chapter 24
 
His teeth sang in their individual sockets like tuning forks, each one pitch-perfect and clear as ethanol…The anger was…riding out behind the beta-phenethylamine rush like a carrier wave…

Gibson on NeuromancerEdit

  • But Neuromancer and its two sequels are not about computers. They may pretend, at times, and often rather badly, to be about computers, but really they're about technology in some broader sense. Personally, I suspect they're actually about Industrial Culture; about what we do with machines, what machines do with us, and how wholly unconscious (and usually unlegislated) this process has been, is, and will be. Had I actually known a great deal (by 1981 standards) about real computing, I doubt very much I would (or could) have written Neuromancer. Perhaps it all goes to prove that there are situations (literary ones, at least) in which a little knowledge is not only a dangerous thing, but the best tool for the job at hand.
    • William Gibson, "Author's Afterward," Mona Lisa Overdrive, June 16, 1992.
  • I'd buy him a drink, but I don't know if I'd loan him any money.
 
Neuro from the nerves, the silver paths. Romancer. Necromancer. I call up the dead.
  • I think of Neuromancer as being, in a good sense, an adolescent book. It's a young man's book. It was written very young-man's-book. It was written by a man who was not very young, when he wrote it, but who was sufficiently immature.
  • It's a world where there aren't families. It's the world of a young person going out into the wilderness, cities, and sort of in a way creating a family. You know, it's kind of like... it's not that it's a "goth book," but it's kind of rather the same stuff that makes kids be goths.
  • So it's entirely fair to say, and I've said it before, that the way Neuromancer-the-novel "looks" was influenced in large part by some of the artwork I saw in Heavy Metal. I assume that this must also be true of John Carpenter's Escape from New York, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and all other artifacts of the style sometimes dubbed "cyberpunk." Those French guys, they got their end in early.
    • Gibson's introduction to the 1989 Marvel/Epic graphic adaptation of Neuromancer.
  • Neuromancer, though it’s careful never to admit it, is set in the 2030s, when there’s something like the Internet, but called “cyberspace,” and a complete absence of cell phones, which I’m sure young readers assume must be a key plot-point. More accurately, there’s something like cyberspace, but called “cyberspace,” but that gets confusing. I followed Neuromancer with two more novels set in that particular future, but by then I was growing frustrated with the capital-F Future. I knew that those books were actually about the 1980s, when they were written, but almost nobody else seemed to see that.

Count Zero (1986)Edit

About Count Zero

 
…she stared directly into those soft blue eyes and knew, with an instinctive mammalian certainty, that the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human.
  • COUNT ZERO INTERRUPT—On receiving an interrupt, decrement the counter to zero.
    • Epigraph (Count Zero is also Bobby Newmark's pseudonym)
  • They sent a slamhound on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street called Chandni Chauk and came scrambling for his rented BMW through a forest of bare brown legs and pedicab tires. Its core was a kilogram of recrystallized hexogene and flaked TNT. He didn't see it coming.
    • Chapter 1, "Smooth Running Gun" (First lines of novel)
  • Because he had a good agent, he had a good contract. Because he had a good contract, he was in Singapore an hour after the explosion. Most of him, anyway.
    • Chapter 1, "Smooth Running Gun"
  • He was good as new. How good was that? He didn’t know. He took the things the Dutchman gave him and flew out of Singapore. Home was the next airport Hyatt.
    • Chapter 1, "Smooth Running Gun"
  • In Heathrow a vast chunk of memory detached itself from a blank bowl of airport sky and fell on him. He vomited into a blue plastic container without breaking stride. When he arrived at the counter at the end of corridor, he changed his ticket.
    • Chapter 1, "Smooth Running Gun" (Turner begins to recall his past)
  • And, for an instant, she stared directly into those soft blue eyes and knew, with an instinctive mammalian certainty, that the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human.
    • Chapter 2, "Marly"
  • Shit. He'd come home and gotten right down to it, slotted the icebreaker he'd rented from Two-a-Day and jacked in, punching for the base he'd chosen as his first live target…He'd only had the little Ono-Sendai deck for a month, but he already knew he wanted to be more than just some Barrytown hotdogger. Bobby Newmark, aka Count Zero, but it was already over.
    • Chapter 3, "Bobby Pulls a Wilson"
 
In Heathrow a vast chunk of memory detached itself from a blank bowl of airport sky and fell on him.
  • The stick-on holograms had actually had some effect on Bobby, because religion was now something he felt he’d considered and put aside. Basically, the way he figured it, there were just some people around who needed that shit, and he guessed there always had been, but he wasn’t one of them, so he didn’t.
    • Chapter 6, "Barrytown"
  • The Gothick girl regarded Bobby with mild interest but no flash of human recognition whatever, as though she were seeing an ad for a product she’d heard of but had no intention of buying.
    • Chapter 6, "Barrytown"
  • “As I luxuriate in the discovery that I am no special sponge for sorrow, but merely another fallible animal in this stone maze of a city, I come simultaneously to see that I am the focus of some vast device fueled by an obscure desire.”
    • Chapter 12, "Café Blanc" (Marly Krushkhova to Paco)
  • The Finn was looking at Bobby now. “I got a pair of shoes older than you are, so what the fuck should I expect you to know? There were cowboys ever since there were computers. They built the first computers to crack German ice, right? Codebreakers. So there was ice before computers, you wanna look at it that way."
    • Chapter 16, "Legba"
  • “Honey,” Jammer said, “you'll learn. Some things you teach yourself to remember to forget.”
    • Chapter 28, "Jaylene Slide"

Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)Edit

About Mona Lisa Overdrive

 
The ghost woke to Kumiko's touch as they began their descent into Heathrow…a boy out of some faded hunting print, legs crossed casually in tan breeches and riding boots.
  • The ghost was her father's parting gift, presented by a black-clad secretary in a departure lounge at Narita. For the first two hours of the flight to London it lay forgotten in her purse…The ghost woke to Kumiko's touch as they began their descent into Heathrow…a boy out of some faded hunting print, legs crossed casually in tan breeches and riding boots.
    "Hullo," the ghost said…"Name's Colin…Didn't get your name."
    "You aren't real," she said sternly.
    He shrugged.
    • Chapter 1, "The Smoke"
  • Petal called the city Smoke.
    • Chapter 1, "The Smoke"
 
Here [the past] seemed the very fabric of things, as if the city were a single growth of stone and brick, uncounted strata of message and meaning.
  • London was nothing like Tokyo, where the past, all that remained of it, was nurtured with a nervous care…Here it seemed the very fabric of things, as if the city were a single growth of stone and brick, uncounted strata of message and meaning, age upon age, generated over the centuries to the dictates of some now-all-but-unreadable DNA of commerce and empire.
    • Chapter 1, "The Smoke"
  • He’d grown up in white Jersey stringtowns where nobody knew shit about anything and hated anybody who did.
    • Chapter 2, "Kid Afrika"
 
"He’d grown up in white Jersey stringtowns where nobody knew shit about anything and hated anybody who did."
  • Child, know me.
    And Angie felt her there, all at once, and knew her for what she was, Mamman Brigitte, Mademoiselle Brigitte, eldest of the dead.
    I have no cult, child, no special altar. You are summoned to my reposoir. Hear me. Your father drew vévés in your head: he drew them in a flesh that was not flesh. You were consecrated to Ezili Freda. Legba led you into the world to serve his own ends. But you were sent poison, child, a coup-poudre.
    • Chapter 3, "Malibu"
 
Child, know me.
And Angie felt her there, all at once, and knew her for what she was, Mamman Brigitte, Mademoiselle Brigitte, eldest of the dead.
  • "I am no spy."
    "Then start being your own. If Tokyo's the frying pan, you may just have landed in the fire."
  • It was raining when they got to the airport, Florida rain, pissing down warm out of a nowhere sky. [Mona Lisa] had never been to an airport before, but she knew them from the stims.
    • Chapter 8, "Texas Radio"
  • That’s interesting in itself, because it shows you how adept they were at obscurity. They used their money to keep themselves out of the news.
    • Chapter 12, "Antarctica Starts Here"
  • Have you ever considered the relationship of clinical paranoia to the phenomenon of religious conversion?
    • Chapter 13, "Catwalk"
  • "The folklore of console jockeys, Continuity. What do you know about…'When It Changed'?"
    "The mythform is usually encountered in one of two modes. One mode assumes that the cyberspace matrix is inhabited, or perhaps visited, by entities whose characteristics correspond with the primary mythform of a 'hidden people.' The other involves assumptions of omniscience, omnipotence, and incomprehensibility on the part of the matrix itself."
    • Chapter 16, "Filament in Strata"
  • Look, she said to Lanette, showing her the picture, they got this glow.
    It’s called money, Lanette said.
    • Chapter 19, "Under the Knife"
  • “You were hurt,” Kumiko said, looking at the scar.
    Sally looked down. “Yeah.”
    “Why don’t you have it removed?”
    “Sometimes it’s good to remember.”
    “Being hurt?”
    “Being stupid.”
    • Chapter 22, "Ghosts and Empties"
  • Your saving grace, Danielle, is that you make the rest of your kind look vaguely human.
    • Chapter 25, "Back East"
  • Kumiko looked into Colin's transparent green eyes…"What are you?"
    "A Maas-Neotek biochip personality-base programmed to aid and advise the Japanese visitor in the United Kingdom." He winked at her.
    "Why did you wink?"
    The ghost touched his lips with a slim forefinger. "I'm something else as well, yes. I do display a bit too much initiative for a mere guide program. I can't tell you exactly what I am, though, because I don't know."
    • Chapter 26, "Kuromaku"
  • "You've got the wrong data in you, for what you're meant to be," Tick said.
    "To be perfectly honest," Colin said, with a toss of his forelock, "I've suspected as much."
    "Been iced over…You're supposed to know fucking everything about Shakespeare, aren't you?"
    "Sorry," Colin said, "but I'm afraid that I do know fucking everything about Shakespeare."
    "Give us a sonnet, then."
    Something like dismay crossed Colin's face. "You're right."
    • Chapter 37, "Cranes"
  • In cyberspace, Kumiko noted, there are no shadows.
    • Chapter 37, "Cranes"
  • The world hadn't ever had so many moving parts or so few labels.
    • Chapter 39, "Too Much"

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