Words And More Words

Posted on September 27, 2011 by Tiffany KW.
Categories: Uncategorized.

Okay, so the difficulty I’m having while reading Neuromancer specifically has to do with the alternative use of words of which I already know the meaning and the generally accepted context.  More on that in a minute.  First, I have to say that I am truly enjoying reading this book.  Much like Ender’s Game and Dune (and many others), the novel begins by throwing the reader into the character’s world with zero explanation.  I love it.  I love feeling smart when I grasp the meaning of a created word from the context clues alone.  I know I can’t be the only one.  It’s like a mystery, and one which must be solved to fully understand the world in which the characters live.  For instance, “simstim” would seem to be simulated stimulation, condensed in more ways than one.  And “temperfoam” — who knew the man invented some kind of futuristic cushiony material about fifteen years ahead of his time?  I like the world Gibson’s created because it’s so close to what I can grasp.  Names of cities I recognize, hustlers running game in the mean streets, and a flourishing black market.  The Yakuza, bizarre-ass technology, and human organ trafficking.  Not so different from our world.  Not *so* different.  Now, back to the alternative use of words:

Some people already mentioned Sprawl, but I’ll mention it again.  Because it *does* seem that the word encompasses much more than a designated area.  Sprawl evokes a sloppy person too lazy to actually sit upright on the couch, or a messy overflow of human habitation stubbornly refusing to be contained in a nice and orderly suburb, and the gross excess of a wealthy person who greedily hogs a large tract of land.  When Gibson uses it as a nickname for the BAMA (p. 43), the capitalization seems to gather in each of the qualities above as well as specifying a place.  Later, (p. 47) Gibson seems to mean something different when he writes: “Her Sprawl wasn’t his Sprawl, he decided.”  In this case, the Sprawl doesn’t seem to ooze everywhere; instead, it gains a rigidity accented by layers of society.  I would love to add “coffin” to my list of alternatively used words, but I find myself short on time.

So here are the questions:  Other than evoking film noir or dime-store detective novels (both of which are worthy), what feeling should I be getting from Neuromancer?  Perhaps a better one is, how should I be interpreting the novel?  As a futuristic caper?  A post modern mystery?  Or how about the unveiling of a world-wide conspiracy complete with a shadow government?

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