In 1984, an unheralded, largely unknown author and former draft dodger changed the course of history to a degree. He wrote a novel that has sold six million copies to date, and he accidentally popularized an entire sub-genre of science fiction. This form has been coined by the phrase "cyberpunk", and one of the terms used by the writer evolved into one that tapped into the new millennium's zeitgeist: cyberspace.
Cyberpunk novels are not unlike pirate stories in that thuggish behavior doubles as counter-culture heroism. The key difference is that subterfuge and skullduggery occurs not upon the open seas but in the infinite space of the Internet and various other technological interfaces for communication. So popular is the premise that forms of intellectual property theft are identified by a now-familiarized terminology: software piracy.
The influence of Gibson's work on our Internet 2.0 societal backbone cannot be understated. In point of fact, a derivative version of Gibson's underlying ideas has already been hailed as hallmark cinema. The movie is a 1999 release, The Matrix, and its reviews almost universally mentioned the thematic ties to the world of Neuromancer. Given that the Wachowski Brothers franchise earned an excess of $1.6 billion worldwide, we should not be surprised that noted producer Peter Hoffman is investing $70 million for a 2009 theatrical adaptation of the Gibson source material.
For those of you unfamiliar with the storyline, Neuromancer is a story involving events in the life of Henry Dorsett Case, a drug addicted anti-hero living in a dystopian future where cybernetic implants are a way of life. An accomplished computer hacker, Case has been poisoned with a toxic substance that prevents him from accessing the portion of his brain needed to do his job. When his life bottoms out, Case encounters a razorgirl named Molly who has been genetically altered with advanced contacts for her eyes and retractable razors under her fingernails - she is a short range Wolverine, if you will.
Over time, the duo encounters an artificial intelligence called Wintermute, and they determine it is only half of a planned super-intelligence. A powerful organization known as the Tessier-Ashpool clan intend to merge Wintermute with an existing AI called Neuromancer. A programming law exists to prevent such a dangerous machine intelligence from occurring, so Wintermute requires outside assistance in order to accomplish its programmed goal. With the help of Case, the AIs may merge, causing Wintermute to proffer a deal with Case to heal his conditions in exchange for creating a super-AI between it and Neuromancer.
This Gibson novel has been rumored to see theatrical adaptation for almost 20 years now. The key difference here is that Variety reports that the money is already lined up with production scheduled to begin by the end of the year. So, we will know soon enough whether or not this version of Neuromancer the movie is real. (David Mumpower/BOP)