After I stalled for the second time on The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, I have been mostly reading non-fiction again.
Having just finished a book on programming, I was in the mood for a novel, and the choice fell on Count Zero.
Back in the day, I was absolutely blown away by Neuromancer and remember considering both other Sprawl Trilogy novels kind of disappointing.
Particularly, I think either Count Zero or Mona Lisa Overdrive had the dubious privilege of being my personal introduction to frustrating multi-threaded / multi-perspective novels, which culminated a bunch of years later with the Game of Thrones novels (Danaerys’ storyline was the one that drove me absolutely bonkers).
I must admit, though, that Gibson’s own brand of textured, high-density prose really shines throughout the opening of Count Zero, introducing one of the main characters, Turner, who’s killed literally in the first three lines of the novel, and then stitch back together physically and mentally over the course of the first chapter.
Turner is presented as an exfiltration / extraction specialist, working for one of those Gibson zaibatsu.
Putting down the Kindle, it struck me how much Inception’ really is indebted with a book like this.
Inception might not have “Johnny Mnemonic” shining in bright neon letters on top of it, but the dream world has striking similarities the Sprawl’s simulated realities, beginning with the “ROM Construct” in which Turner spends his time while in the hospital. The shared dreaming machine is kind of reminiscent of a cyberdeck, too.
The huge conglomerates fighting each other in the shadows just beyond the limit of legality, battling over the minds of people and their contents (yeah, fuck Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Mnemonic, a mediocre action flick with all of the food-for-thought excised, and thoroughly sanitized), with their private armies of trained professionals and skilled experts, and the neat, expensive looking, “corporate chic” surface that truly is a shadowy underworld in which these characters move through.
It kind of makes me feel bad for people who had their cyberpunk spoiled by the derivative, cheesy, but snazzy looking Matrix films, still a cut above the soulless cyberpunk posturing from Hollywood, though.
Of course, I’m hardly the first person to realize the ties that Inception had with Gibson, nonetheless it feels good to make the connection myself, spontaneously. It’s just a little frustrating that I didn’t realize simply watching the film - but this is indeed what is bound to happen, when something has been metabolized so thoroughly, i.e. the Gibson in Inception disappears in the background and more superficial stuff is what hits the eye more easily (also, this, a trade-mark trick of Nolan’s).
Looks like both the filmmakers and Gibson himself have acknowledged, goes to prove that sometimes you are better off not paying any attention to films when they first come out. This is from Wired: