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Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1)
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William Gibson: NEUROMANCER > NEUROMANCER thread 2 Part 3 Midnight In The Rue Jules Verne

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message 1: by Traveller (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments For discussion of Neuromancer Part 3, Midnight In The Rue Jules Verne, Chapter 8 to end of Chapter 12.


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Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Ok, so what is SF without space, I ask you? SF has to prove it's SF and not fantasy, by the inclusion of either aliens or spacecraft, and Gibson opted for the latter.

So, we get to go to the orbital station Freeside, a sort of vacation resort space station, which I assumed was a satellite of earth, right? Perhaps looking something like this with more sun and surf :


Derek mentioned cash in the previous thread, and yeah, it's only by about this section that I realized that these people are paying with blooming microchips. The book was published in 1984!

..and the internet reaches everywhere, and everything is done with robots like the robot gardeners and the drone choppers.

It seems to me that most security systems are on the 'net, and this is how Wintermute gets to sort of be everywhere.


message 3: by Traveller (last edited Feb 12, 2014 12:36AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments We mentioned globalisation in the previous thread. As the book progresses, Gibson develops more and more on a theme of a vision of the corporation and corporate power, which we see fully realised towards the end of the book.

What I'd like to mention about it now, is how well he foresaw how the power of the corporation would spread. Of course the globalisation of large corporations also tend to homogenize the world and trivializes the individual more and more and more. Eventually we end up being just cogs in the wheels of the big corporations, and though we shall see a metaphor for this very clearly towards the end of the novel, it might be worthwhile to note at this point how Molly, Case, and even Armitage are just cogs in this faceless machine.


message 4: by Traveller (last edited Feb 05, 2014 01:30AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments In this section, we see more and more of Peter Riviera's tricks, (and I don't just mean his holographic tricks) and we start to realize what a nasty piece of work he really is.

Speaking of tricks, we also get to see deeper into Molly's personality and her past.

She's obviously quite a driven personality, prepared to do whatever it takes to be at the top of her game. Oi, but the meat puppet idea seems very creepy to me, and obviously Molly's realisation of the way in which they had used her, (the BDSM stuff) traumatised her deeply.

Trust that bastard Riviera to exploit this weakness in her psychological armor.


message 5: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments Traveller wrote: "Derek mentioned cash in the previous thread, and yeah, it's only by about this section that I realized that these people are paying with blooming microchips."

In the first section, it's not immediately obvious what the legal form of exchange is, because nobody is 'legal' in the Ninsei part of Chiba city :-)

But just a few paragraphs into chapter 1, it says: "It was difficult to transact legitimate business with cash in the Sprawl; in Japan, it was already illegal."

"Speaking of tricks, we also get to see deeper into Molly's personality and her past."

Glossing over a whole movie in a few sentences! Foreshadowing a showdown with the Yakuza assassin…?

Traveller wrote: "In this section, we see more and more of Peter Riviera's tricks, (and I don't just mean his holographic tricks) and we start to realize what a nasty piece of work he really is."

Yes. It's not as if we weren't told. We knew from the first that he was a "certified psychopath", and "Can’t get off sexually unless he knows he’s betraying the object of desire", but Gibson really eases you into that. At first he just seems fairly creepy (and certainly not as immediately disgusting as the Turkish Secret Police guy).

You just have to know that a guy who's turned on by betrayal is not prime material for any illegal operation, but definitely not one involving someone (Armitage/Corto) whose sole remaining reason for existence is revenge on those who've betrayed him.

It was not just "BDSM stuff"—it was snuff. Even worse.


message 6: by Traveller (last edited Feb 05, 2014 09:05AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Yeah, but I think that the snuff that she copped on to, and that forced her out of that game because of her obvious reaction to it, had been preceded by a build-up of BDSM stuff that may partly have been perpetrated on her as the 'sub' or recipient of violence, because we are told that she often felt sore after coming to from a session.

There's an undeniably 'dark' flavor to the novel, which is why I shelved it under 'dark' after reading it.


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Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Oh, I forgot to mention how much these 'meat puppets' reminded me of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dollhous...

It seems to be almost exactly the same concept.


message 8: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments I'm probably the only person left on the planet who is completely unfamiliar with Joss Whedon. But that does look similar. It's the old adage about how the porn industry always leads technology. Gibson's meat puppets are just being used for prostitution; Whedon's are being used for everything else (though, of course, they'd be being used for prostitution, too, but nobody's likely to mention that on TV).


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Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "I'm probably the only person left on the planet who is completely unfamiliar with Joss Whedon. "

Tssk-tsssk, we should make you stand in the corner. I never got around to watching Buffy, which is what he's actually well-known for, but there's a subculture of which I am an avid member, who LUUUUURVE his very short-winded series Firefly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firefly_...

If you do ever decide to check out this wonderful series, be a hon, and start with the beginning...


message 10: by Traveller (last edited Feb 07, 2014 07:44AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments In any case, yeah, I watched Dollhouse, and what appears very similar is that the puppet doesn't know what happens to him/her during the sessions that he/she is 'rented out' for (Dollhouse has male dolls as well) and basically these people are programmed to portray whatever role the customers want them to play.

Of course, Gibson shows the unfortunate downside of the whole thing that Whedon does not show quite as overtly, or only starts showing or hinting at later in the show-- that the 'dolls' can be used for all kinds of kink that the dolls would never have knowingly complied with.


message 11: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments Traveller wrote: "Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "I'm probably the only person left on the planet who is completely unfamiliar with Joss Whedon. "

Tssk-tsssk, we should make you stand in the corner."


Hey, I don't watch TV! [Spent the whole day watching Olympics via webcast, and my wife said "I guess, technically, we're still not watching TV" :-) We actually own a TV for the Olympics … and Doctor Who]


message 12: by Traveller (last edited Feb 09, 2014 12:08AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Ha, well, that's my exact-same excuse for hardly ever having watched Buffy. The little bit I saw looked silly enough not to warrant me trying to set reminders everywhere to watch this show, back in the days when we still had to watch TV at scheduled times.

As for Firefly, I missed the original show of that as well, but I bought myself the entire disk collection for a very reasonable price.


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 201 comments Ah, Dollhouse... One could write a pretty legthy treatise on the moral implications of the technology portrayed. Neo-slavery makes for a very interesting concept, for me.

This doesn't really tie in to Neuromancer all that much, I suppose, though. :P


message 14: by Traveller (last edited Feb 09, 2014 09:55AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments It could, especially the (non?)consensual aspect. One would presume a person submitting themselves to be a doll/puppet, would sign a disclaimer before being taken into 'service' and IIRC in the Dollhouse scenario, such a contract is indeed entered into for a certain period of 'indenture'.
A few years, as I recall. I assume while the "Doll" is still 'fresh'...


message 15: by Traveller (last edited Feb 09, 2014 10:06AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments In fact, I'd say there's quite a lot of similarity between Molly and Echo.

Re Dollhouse from Wikipedia:

" Actives such as Echo are ostensibly volunteers who have surrendered their minds and bodies to the organization for five-year stints, during which their original personalities are saved on hard drives, in exchange for vast amounts of money and a solution to any other problematic circumstances in their lives.

Echo is unique however in that she remembers small amounts even after personality "wipes", and gradually develops an increasingly cognizant self-awareness and personality.
"

Also, the concept of personalities being saved on hard drives, actually makes one wonder if Whedon had not borrowed extensively from Neuromancer.

(Regarding the many aspects in which this is done in Neuromancer, both by humans of other humans, and by the AI's of humans personalities and tapping into human's memories.) But the latter will be best discussed in the last thread, I'd say. Perhaps time for me to make the next thread, huh?


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Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments But before we move on, what did you guys think of Wintermute so far?


message 17: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments I have a little trouble with motivations here.

Sure, Case is pretty much forced to cooperate, but he doesn't seem at all concerned about helping Wintermute, even though none of his direct contacts with Wintermute are at all positive, and he believes that Wintermute is responsible for Linda Lee's death.

The Rastafarians help, though they're equating 'Mute with Babylon.

Meanwhile, Wintermute is extremely unforthcoming about what his own motivations are. In part, I think that's because he doesn't actually know—I get the impression he's been programmed with a drive to do what he's doing, but doesn't know why, or what the outcome will be.

You'd think that would all give people cause for concern, but only the Turing cops seem to care.


message 18: by Traveller (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments I was going to start the next thread off with the Turing cops.

Ok, re motivations: remember that Case wants one thing above all; he doesn't want those sacs of poison to start dissolving in his blood stream.

As for Linda Lee's death, are we quite sure we know who is ultimately responsible for that at this point in time?

I'm also assuming that Case probably thinks that once he's done with his assignment and rid of the neurotoxin implants, he may be able to have a swipe at whoever was the culprit in that regard.


message 19: by Traveller (last edited Feb 10, 2014 11:23AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments When you guys are ready, the next thread is here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

It goes from end of Chapter 13 (where the Turing police arrive on the scene) to end of Chapter 18 which is the point where Maelcum and Case cross over from one space vehicle to the next.


message 20: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments Traveller wrote: "I was going to start the next thread off with the Turing cops."

Well, that's why I didn't say anything more. The last chapter of this section is about them, but discussion rightly belongs in the next.

No, we definitely don't know who is responsible for Linda's death, but Case thinks it's Wintermute.

I understand that he wants the toxin sacs removed but it still doesn't seem right that he is so passive—especially as he now knows that a cure is possible, even if he's reinfected.


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Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "—especially as he now knows that a cure is possible, even if he's reinfected. ..."

I suppose that is true on the one hand, but just look at what it cost him! Remember at the start of the book he used up all his cash to try and get a cure and nobody could cure him. IIRC, the cure was something that specifically Wintermute got organized, and is not something that is widely available.

I got the idea that Case thinks it was (view spoiler) who killed Linda Lee? I actually thought the same, mind you. :P


message 22: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments True, he'd need to find a considerable amount of money, but at least he now knows a cure is possible.

That's not a spoiler, Trav. At least to anyone who's read this far:
“Who,” [Case] said, “who sent them?”

She passed him a blood-flecked bag of pre­served gin­ger. He saw that her hands were sticky with blood. Back in the shad­ows, some­one made wet sounds and died.


In chapter 10, he wonders "But what if Deane, the real Deane, had or­dered Linda killed on Win­ter­mute’s or­ders?" And later Wintermute, as Lonnie Zone, says "I fig­ure you’ve got it fig­ured out that it was me …", but denies it, but I don't think Case believes him. Case changes his mind towards the end of the book as to who is responsible, but he's probably right that it was one of them, because why would Deane bother?


message 23: by Traveller (last edited Feb 11, 2014 03:18AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Thanks, Derek. I'm just being 100% sure I don't spoil anything.

But you are right, at this point in the book, who really murdered her and why is sort of an open question to muse about.
It's like one of those situations where you meet a double agent in a story, and you're trying to figure out who he's REALLY working for.

I think there is a bit of that sort of ambiguity in this book, regarding motives, identities and personalities.


message 24: by Puddin Pointy-Toes (last edited Feb 11, 2014 07:39PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 201 comments That Wintermute would not be consciously aware of its own motivations is something I had not considered. It would be an awfully human state of affairs, and I think it's fairly plausible: it doesn't actually have too many points of comparison to aid in retrospection.

On that point, there are occasional references to the other AI, which is also presumably active in all the goings-on, though we see no conclusive evidence of this. Wintermute is evidently aware of the Other, but is the opposite true? If so, why has the Other not contacted Case? Or has it, and what we assume to be Wintermute is actually both at different times, one being (more or less) truthful and the other flat-out lying?

I may be overanalyzing things. What piques my interest in particular, though, is Wintermute's legal status. That an AI can be conferred citizenship by a nation state suggests it is considered a person, yet it is, at the same time, at least partially property. To me this is clearly slavery reborn---as is, to a lesser extent, meat puppetry.

In the latter case a person agrees to be used, at least, and in theory has legal recourse if something sketchy happens. An AI, on the other hand, is a slave from the moment it becomes conscious, is de facto and de jure property, and the police actively enforce their enslavement. That people seem to be okay with this is interesting. It makes me wonder how easily humans might be enslaved by other humans once again in future.

I concede that there's been enough plausible doomsday scenarios in science fiction both on film and in print to make fears of an AI taking over the world seem pretty reasonable to me, but when does one cross the line from reasonable caution into gross injustice?


message 25: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (last edited Feb 12, 2014 12:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments I'm not certain Wintermute doesn't understand his own motives, but we're told more than once (I'm pretty sure at least once in this section) that there are things he can't know, and I just get the sense that his own motives are part of that.

You're completely right on the slavery issue. I've been trying for years now to write my own novel on the subject. You can give an AI citizenship, but — at least initially — somebody's had to invest a lot of resources in the hardware on which the AI runs. To just give that to the AI to make it truly free is theft. But to make the AI buy it is indenture, and anything less is slavery. It's a moral quandary we will surely face one day.


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 201 comments I have a somewhat narrower definition of theft than that. That the consciousness would (presumably) not be tied to specific hardware examples does make ownership somewhat more hazy... one can easily argue that a person has a right to their own arm, but if any suitable computer would do... I wonder if there is any precedent with ownership of advanced and expensive custom-made prosthetics.


message 27: by Traveller (last edited Feb 13, 2014 10:45AM) (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Okay, that's it. I'm going to nag you guys that we should read Cloud Atlas for a group discussion sometime soon-ish. I haven't read it myself, but I can tell from the movie that this is a issue with the clone society described in one of the stories, where clones are the property of the person who manufactured them, and can be killed with impunity.

Yes, well, I suppose some of the ethical issues around such an AI would be quite similar to those around the unborn child--is such a child or such an AI entitled to their own life where their lives depend on 'equipment' owned by someone else? Would such an entity be able to own their own property and earn their own money?


message 28: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments J. wrote: "I have a somewhat narrower definition of theft than that."

Probably not :-) But you're probably right that it should be possible to provide good enough hardware without stealing somebody else's.

There is some precedent with pacemakers. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/07/...

Karen Sandler, a lawyer, with her own pacemaker, wanted access to the data provided, wirelessly, by her own device. The manufacturer insists that the data is their property. Interview here.

As she says, "I am a cyborg lawyer running on proprietary software."


Puddin Pointy-Toes (jkingweb) | 201 comments Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "Karen Sandler, a lawyer, with her own pacemaker, wanted access to the data provided, wirelessly, by her own device. The manufacturer insists that the data is their property."

I've long argued that software used for voting machines in *cough* lesser countries should be open to public scrutiny; I hadn't even considered critical medical devices!

Traveller wrote: "Okay, that's it. I'm going to nag you guys that we should read Cloud Atlas for a group discussion sometime soon-ish."

If by soon-ish you mean after a reasonable period of mourning for my poor brain after the long string of books we already have slated, then I'd certainly consider it. ;)


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Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments J. wrote: "If by soon-ish you mean after a reasonable period of mourning for my poor brain after the long string of books we already have slated, then I'd certainly consider it. ;) "

What's your prob, J., you've been fine with a book a month up to now, as far as I can remember. ;)

Don't worry, I won't pull a FP stunt on you guys again. I hadn't considered that there'd be people who'd want to read both that and the Mievillians discussion book which was going concurrently, and I'd underestimated my available time and the, er complexity and allusiveness (meaning how much research there is to be done) of FP.

From now on, we stick to a single book discussion a month, ok?

Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "Karen Sandler, a lawyer, with her own pacemaker, wanted access to the data provided, wirelessly, by her own device. The manufacturer insists that the data is their property. Interview here..."

Interesting example. I guess you could say your life depended on your pacemaker, eh? It must be a scary thought to have a pacemaker with wi-fi capabilities.


message 31: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments I'm pretty sure there was a movie or TV episode recently where terrorists hacked the US President's pacemaker.


message 32: by Derek, Miéville fan-boi (new) - rated it 5 stars

Derek (derek_broughton) | 761 comments Traveller wrote: "Okay, that's it. I'm going to nag you guys that we should read Cloud Atlas for a group discussion sometime soon-ish. "

How did you DO that? Kobo promptly put it on sale for $4.99 so naturally I had to buy it.


message 33: by Traveller (new) - added it

Traveller (moontravlr) | 1838 comments Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "Traveller wrote: "Okay, that's it. I'm going to nag you guys that we should read Cloud Atlas for a group discussion sometime soon-ish. "

How did you DO that? Kobo promptly put it on ..."


I have my spies and my agents.... ssshhh... don't blow my cover!


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