Science Fiction and Interpolation

Matthew Hutson

In Neuromancer, Gibson does much in the way of creating a casually advanced world despite the uniqueness of technologies and their effect on culture in relation to today's standards. His descriptions of Case zooming through cyberspace involve visual descriptions and spacial references, and we imagine a kind of video game or dream world with a matrix around us and a pink cube in the distance, hiding behind a sheet of "ice." This type of description appeals to our intuitive sense of the world and of technology, where the silicon machines sitting on our desks display "windows" and "folders" and a "trash can" onto a two-dimensional surface in front of our eyes. While the technological changes between now and the time of Neuromancer are sure to be mind-boggling, apparently future electronic environments will still retain some sense of the tangible familiarity we have evolved to comprehend.

Why, then do some of us still find Gibson's world so foreign? I believe the trouble lies in the fact that he has created a space and time where things are relatively intuitive (key word: relatively), and we currently live in a space and time where technology is relatively intuitive, but the two places and times are still quite different from each other, and Gibson does little to explain or imply exactly how we got from this oasis to that one. They are two island separated by a wide gulf. Sometimes by stretching the imagination a little bit, we can fill in the blanks, and say, "yeah, I can kind of see how that technology or cultural motif would have evolved", but other times, he makes unfair, or rather personally disadvantageous, strains on our capabilities of interpolating themes in science and society.

Science fiction is not always just a complete fantasy world. I see it as a commentary on present day reality. Science fiction writers look at the world around us, pick up on (often subtle) characteristics, and amplify them. Gibson sees our growing dependence on drugs and merely extends this to a world where we intake many drugs throughout the day. Izzy has something to say about this too. Thus most of Neuromancer is probably some kind of commentary on today's society, but because Gibson notices certain subtleties that others do not (and vice versa) and because he stretches his magnifications of the world to such an extent while skipping over many steps, we are often left distanced, looking at his world as wholly alien and unfamiliar. He has good intentions, but I feel that through his style of casually and incompletely describing pieces of future reality, along with dropping dozens of vocab words he has made up, without explanation, he has actually defeated his own cause.

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