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Neuromancer: 25 years later


Above: I choose you, Wintermute!

Neuromancer was made into a videogame by Interplay in 1988, which was lauded for its rich narrative and dazzling cyberspace combat. A graphic novel was published in 1989, but only covered the first part of the story and further issues were canceled. In the 90s, attempts at making films based on Gibson’s work were largely unsuccessful. Johnny Mnemonic and New Rose Hotel were based on popular short stories, but ended up feeling campy and inadequate as films. Johnny Mnemonic also had a largely forgettable CD-ROM interactive movie. Though his writing hasn’t had much luck in being directly adapted, Gibson’s cyberpunk memes spread virulently, influencing media, pop culture and the development of the internet.

Gibson is regarded as the architect who laid the groundwork for the budding cyberculture of the 80s and early 90s. Magazines like Boing BoingMondo 2000 and Wired espoused cyberpunk themes and giddily embraced new technologies and a “future is now” vibe. Cyberpunk 2013, a role-playing game published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988, did a fantastic job of capturing the attitude and style of the genre in an easy to learn system that required only a d6 and a d10. The Cyberpunk RPG was relentlessly dystopian, and explored the concepts of cyberpsychosis and technoshock.

The much-celebrated Japanese manga Akira (1982-90) was cyberpunk to the core, and was released as a feature film in 1988. Appleseed (1985-89) was another manga steeped in cyberpunk that spawned TV, videogame and film adaptations. In 1986, Lucasfilm and Quantum Link launched an early attempt at online role-playing called Habitat, in which players had an “avatar” that existed in a virtual world. Quantum Link was an early internet service that morphed into America Online. Second Life, PlayStation Home and the glut of MMOs available today are the direct descendents of Habitat, which in turn was informed by the notion of cyberspace laid out in Neuromancer. Throughout the 80s and 90s, though, cyberpunk’s influence was perhaps most visible in Hollywood.


Above: Click to enlarge


Above: A montage of film clips in the cyberpunk style

52 comments

  • 0over0 - August 19, 2009 3:54 p.m.

    Thanks for having this article--excellent!
  • TheWebSwinger - August 18, 2009 7 p.m.

    The Neuromancer film will star Hayden Christensen? Now that promises to be quality.
  • GamesRadarJoeMcNeilly - August 18, 2009 3:28 p.m.

    More cyberpunk-is-now video of BigDog: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXJZVZFRFJc&NR=1&feature=fvwp
  • GamesRadarJoeMcNeilly - August 18, 2009 2:54 p.m.

    Thanks for all the great comments, I really enjoyed researching and writing this article. If you couldn't tell, I'm a huge fan of cyberpunk. I still cherish my Cyberpunk RPG, still in the original box with the original dice that I bought back in 1988. I wish I'd had more time to explore the sociological and philosophical aspects of our current technological scenario... know any book publishers who are interested in a Complete History of Cyberpunk?
  • HardlyBirdman - August 17, 2009 3:54 p.m.

    Another ballot cast for 'Best Researched GR Article' The topic is a little existential in comparison to the usual "this is what's going on in games now" vibe of GR, but I'm more than okay with that. I would be supremely happy to see more articles like this about bigger issues related to games. Great read; thank you!
  • rxb - August 17, 2009 11:40 a.m.

    Good article, felt like Ive be educated a bit. Will defo read the book at some time. I cant wait till next time I jack into cyberspace to play gears of wars too.
  • rebelx18 - August 17, 2009 1:01 a.m.

    i almost never comment but dam that was beautiful really bravo an utterly brilliant article i enjoyed the metropolis and Blade runner refrences XD
  • cosmolu - August 16, 2009 1:17 a.m.

    Absolutely brilliant article, guys! This is why this is always my first stop on the interwebs. Please keep the awesomeness coming!
  • noswar26 - August 15, 2009 7:04 p.m.

    Holy shit that article was deep. reCAPTCHA: kate fragments
  • Elessar - August 15, 2009 4:31 p.m.

    Best artice ever produced here, please, please PLEASE produce more similarly 'high-brow' articles in the future.
  • mbalexa - August 15, 2009 4:26 p.m.

    creeplytuna, as others have said, this is a GREAT book, it is one of my all time favorites. William Gibson is credited with coining the term "cyberspace" and for anyone that has not read Neuromancer, it is a must. The rest of his collection should not be overlooked either. GREAT ARTICLE!
  • awackslash - August 15, 2009 3:28 p.m.

    I agree with derigible...but seriously, @loonyman978 (and others with same view) how can you not understand this article? It's merely pointing out that while not as drastic as any of the cyberpunk universes, we're on the right track for creating such a downer society.
  • Doctalen - August 15, 2009 7:50 a.m.

    Such an eye opener. For the time till I fall asleep I am going to be paranoid but then forgot and become one with cyberspace again.
  • RickyV300 - August 15, 2009 4:46 a.m.

    IM AM CONFUSED
  • mman36 - August 15, 2009 4:18 a.m.

    This is easily the best article on the entire site! I immediately had to go look for change to buy Neuromancer, and I was flipping out at the video about the implants. MOAR! reCAPTCHA- Odetto dong
  • Derigible - August 15, 2009 3:49 a.m.

    Great article, why are you all so surprised that something like this is on GR. The guys are very capable of writing stuff without boobs. But I, am not. Boobs
  • CreeplyTuna - August 15, 2009 2:33 a.m.

    anyone know if this book is really good? cuz i can only read books that don't suck ass. always end up like 20 pages in and get bored.
  • uz_mike222 - August 15, 2009 1:40 a.m.

    @doomdoomdoom Dude, go read a book series that has 900pgs per book, and i dont mean Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings. but it was a good article, once im done with the book series im reading, ill probably go take a look at it.
  • sniper430 - August 14, 2009 11:26 p.m.

    ahhhh double post i shall forever be commissioned to shame! I apologize :P
  • sniper430 - August 14, 2009 11:25 p.m.

    GR, this is why i haven't abandoned you for N4G A~freaking~mazing article, keep it up please!

Showing 1-20 of 52 comments

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