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Neuromancer, novel published in 1984, written by William Gibson, introduced the topic Cyberpunk into the science fiction, topic which was essential durably and which one finds in a great number of novels and news which followed.

One can in particular quote Hard Wired, by Walter Jon Williams, or When Gravity Fails, written by George Alec Effinger. Two short stories by Gibson, resulting from the collection Engraved on Chromium, was adapted to the screen: Johnny Mnémonic, with Keanu Reeves, and New Rose Hotel, by Abel Ferrara, with Christopher Walken and Asia Argento.

If Neuromancer marks certainly the crashing to pieces entry of the Cyberpunk in SF literature, the topic had already been announced in the film Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, which was also drawn from a SF short story : Do androïds dream of electric sheep, written by Philip K Dick.

The Cyberpunk universe relates to the evolution in a future immediate to the contemporary companies. Its bases are extrapolated current references: technology omnipresent and advanced, but clearly resulting from the current projections (in data processing and biotechnologies in particular), extraordinary development of the multinationals, whose capacity and means end up supplanting those of the states, presence invading of the media, the star system and publicity, tyranny of image and fashion.

The intrigue-type of a novel or new a Cyberpunk is copied on that of a whodunnit: one or more characters are elected by an intermediary for a mission specifies for the benefit of a mysterious and powerful customer (often a multinational company). The elected characters are often marginal ones but do have required talents; as for the missions, they are often held within an illegal framework.

In Neuromancer for instance, a data-processing pirate, a professional female fighter, a recelor and an illusionist are engaged by a former officer, for the account of a powerful Swiss company. The action involves us since the hollows of Tokyo, paradise of the illegal private clinics of plastic surgery, to an orbiting station of leisures, while passing by the Big Bazaar with Istambul or the headquarters of a major company in New York.

The short story and the film New Rose Hotel put in scene the transfer of an expert in genetics, since small Dutch SME towards a Japanese conglomerate. Obviously, that does not go without sorrow, more especially as the knowledge and the discoveries of this expert are worth billions.

Among the technological artifacts of the universe Cyberpunk, the Matrix holds an important place. In Neuromancer, published in 1984, it acted of the world data-processing network and the representation of the software and data available, in the forms of three dimensional objects. A kind of Internet network before the hour, but with an interface much more advanced than that of today's Web pages.

Electrodes fixed at their temples, the data-processing pirates plunge literally inside the information systems of the multinationals (which appear in the form of blocks, cubes or ziggourats) and launch to the attack of the fields of data of the data-processing viruses which resemble kinds of sharks. In his last novels (Virtual Light, Idoru, Tomorrow' S Left), William Gibson however returned to a more orthodox vision of the mother of all networks, very near to the sites of virtual reality.

The human-machine interface is another broad technological topic of the universe Cyberpunk. In the novel Hard-Wired in particular, the hero is a former fighter pilot become by the force of the things conveyor in an armoured vehicle, with which it makes body literally: by the means of electrodes, the pilot feels the ground under the tires of the vehicle, his vision is that of the panoramic cameras which surround the machine.

This topic of the interfacing is also found in the space opera novel Nova written by Samuel Delany: each spacecraft pilot is indeed equipped there with casings to the wrists and the backbone, allowing him to control the movement of the deflectors of a vessel with his nerve impulse.

Romain Dabek
Novels about this theme
A Scanner Darkly
Count Zero
Do Androïds Dream of Electric Sheep ?
Mona Lisa Overdrive
Tomorrow's Parties
Virtual Light
When Gravity Fails

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