Friday, January 31, 2014

Questions & Comments on Zork & Neuromancer, Week II

Post your questions/thoughts as comments to this post.  Again:  a paragraph is fine, or a couple if you feel so moved.  You are posting on a question, problem or topic of your choice.  Citing a particular passage is recommended but not required.

16 comments:

Tom Kappil said...

What bothered me most about this half of the book was the abruptness of the ending. They infiltrate the Tessier-Ashpool compound, Case interfaces with the emotional counterpoint of Wintermute, called Neuromancer, Case makes the final hack, and it ends. There’s a part about the group leaving the resort, and then a small coda, but the ending was abrupt. I was expecting a longer, more conclusive ending, with more information on the final states of Wintermute/Neuromancer, or 3Jane.
The eventual fate of Dixie Flatline was interesting as well. Earlier, Dixie had expressed his interest in being destroyed as a construct to Case, at the conclusion of the operation. The reader assumes Dixie does not want to continue his existence as a temporary consciousness. Wintermute grants his last wish (which the reader is uncertain about), and then, at the Coda, the reader gets Case hearing Dixie’s distinctive laugh. Has Dixie become a new personality that permanently resides in the Matrix, or was it Case’s wishful thinking when he saw three figures that resembled people from his past.
And finally, the aliens. For all the unexplainable science fiction, and leaps in technology the book made, it was still fairly grounded in a probable reality, and then Wintermute’s reference to another AI in the Centauri system makes the book feel, in my opinion, cheaper. It seems like a poor ending to a book that, for all the issues I had with the abruptness of the ending, I felt ended fairly well.

Jessica Craig said...

Last class we talked about the blurring, or perhaps outright reversal, of gender roles in the novel. We specifically compared Case and Molly and explored how, especially within their relationship to one another, they fulfill the gender role of their opposite given genders. How does the rest of the cast of characters amplify or impede the argument that gender roles are distorted or reversed in the novel? In other words, what gender roles do the other characters fulfill – are they consistent with stereotypical gender roles? Do the events of the second half of the novel, specifically Molly’s injuries and her leaving, change the way we analyze their gender roles or generally how gender roles are portrayed?

Kurt Wichman said...

As I read through Neuromancer, I was hoping to feel more of a connection/interest in the protagonists life. Each chapter I read left me feeling blase with Case. His back story shows him a thief, we catch up with him while he's a druggy. He emotional shuts out Linda the only person who seems interested in him. Even in the end when he shows slight change giving "Linda" his coat, he doesn't change THAT much. I'm mainly questioning if Gibson intended for his audience to like Case. In many novels, readers connect/enjoy and sometimes fall in love with characters; I find it difficult that someone could feel attached to Case, even as a character.

Courtney Elvin said...

In reading the second half of the novel and learning more about Wintermute and its plan, the following quote from Wintermute talking to Case was confusing to me, both in context and in general, “My, ah, other lobe is on to use, it looks like. One burning bush looks pretty much like another” (Gibson 173). What does Wintermute mean by lobes? Is he referring to lobes of the brain or Neuromancer who we haven’t met at this point yet? At the end of the novel after the two have united, Case reasons out this: “Wintermute was hive mind, decision maker, effecting change in the world outside. Neuromancer was personality. Neuromancer was immortality” (Gibson 269). So do Wintermute and Neuromancer resemble parts of the human brain? Left and right hemispheres or maybe frontal and temporal lobes? In uniting them is there is the creation of a more complete “brain” in which both bring their functions together? What is the parallel associated with this relationship if there is one?

Jake Stambaugh said...

As the second half of the novel takes place almost entirely on the Spindle, in cyberspace, or an AI's constructed reality. I found it difficult to picture things physically in relationship to each other. The description of the Garvey docking with the Spindle on pg. 222-223 actually disoriented me a fair amount. Similarly, I could never really understand the spatial dynamics of cyberspace, and pg. 253 had a similarly disorienting effect. I guess I was wondering if these descriptions were intentionally disorienting, or if there just isn't an easy metaphor for Gibson to use to describe these things.

Maggie Stankaitis said...



I’m a little puzzled about gender roles in Neuromancer as we continue to read. Molly, at first, seemed to be such a dominant female character, seeming tough, controlling etc., but as the story continues we see another side of Molly that makes me question her authority and dominance. She shows softer qualities and more sensitive characteristics as the novel continues. Is this Gibson making her seem more humanistic and feministic with these qualities or is he trying to make a degrading point about the female gender being weak? Other things make me question what Gibson’s take on gender roles really is in the book. Molly seems dominant, then at points seems too sensitive, she seems like a synthetic hero, sometimes she seems over sexualized, and also the other female characters, such as Linda Lee, make me question this too. I’d like to know Gibson’s intentions regarding gender roles in Neuromancer.

Becca Garges said...

After playing Zork over the past two weeks, I am curious about the evolution of games from simple word commands to more elaborate, hand-eye coordination video games that we have today. It reminded me of a discussion in my Mass Communication Process class. We were discussing Steven Johnson and his "Sleeper Curve" idea, which basically claims that today's popular culture is actually making us smarter. Johnson talks about how narratives are becoming increasingly more complex. He says that younger generations need narratives (whether on the internet, in TV shows, or in video games) to be challenging, and that the interactiveness of these narratives is increasing our intelligence. It's interesting to consider his "Sleeper Curve" idea when looking at Zork compared to present day video games. Zork is challenging because there is no sight or sound to guide you. You can only give the game simple commands and are limited by the sometimes seemingly impassable obstacles. However, in many video games today players are bombarded by sight and sound. Many controls involve hand-eye coordination and sometimes you are communicating with other gamers as you play. I wonder though, are these video games really more challenging than those like Zork? What is more difficult: having no sight or sound to guide you or being overwhelmed by sights and sounds as you play? Would playing games like Zork increase our intelligence more because we need to be creative with the commands we give the game or would playing more recent video games increase our intelligence more because we are required to process and react to multiple stimuli? Which games are more challenging/beneficial?

MarkShanoudy said...

I thought it was interesting that a version of Case went on to exist separate of himself inside the Matrix along with Linda. I kind of have to wonder does this imply something along the lines of Case moving on and leaving that old part of his life behind in the Matrix? Or does it have to do with the question of reality? Like, did the real "Case" never make it out of the Matrix?

Kristen Welsh said...

To me, the most compelling character in Neuromancer was definitely Molly. Her troubled past has clearly affected her present character. Being used as a "meat puppet", she was used for her sexuality, like many other razor girls. However, due to a malfunction in her chip, she is also manipulated to murder people alongside a Senator. For the most part, she does not remember anything about her days as a meat puppet except what appears to her in dreams. Do you think that if Molly had remembered all of what happened that it would affect her character? Personally, I think, if possible, Molly would be even more murderous and furious than she already is. She would know how she was commodified and unleash her vicious wrath on her enemies. Do you think it is a good thing then, that she does not remember the details of her time as a meat puppet (AKA ignorance is bliss)? Or do you think that Molly has a right to know exactly what happened with her body?

Dennis Madden said...

Molly Millions. Rose Kolodny. Cat Mother. Steppin’ Razor. This Vicious Vixen assumed the role of lead support in the novel Neuromancer. We discussed in class that Molly wanted to assume the status of a “razorgirl”: a badass woman whom little would oppose, yet she seems to sport a variety of different statuses throughout the story. I beg to ask the question: is Molly afraid of her real identity? We can challenge her supposed superiority: Molly’s incompetence becomes self realized upon her ‘defeat’ in Straylight, not at the hands of Hideo, the threat she deemed most severe, but at the hands of Peter Riveria and his spectacularly deceptive illusions. Molly had supposed Hideo, the perfect duplication of a sensational ninja, to be her biggest opponent. Instead, she was effectively bested by Riveria, whom she not only despises (given his depiction of her in the ‘show’), but also whom she assumes superiority to and discounts as a worthless threat. At this point, Molly becomes a minor role in the story [in my opinion, the story lost valence after this point].

Was Molly ever a truly irreplaceable part in the plot? Case, the ‘console cowboy’ had natural talent with no modification. Molly, on the other hand, seemed like a product of genetic and mechanical enhancement. This may in fact be epitomized by her fear of Hideo, who is presumably the purely biological reconstruction of an ancient ninja. When Molly leaves the Case at the end of the novel, it might not be a function of her ‘losing her edge’, but instead a function of her own fear to lose her ‘physically superior’ nature again in front of an object of her adoration (Case). You decide.

Brendan Demich said...

I am confused about the role of the Rastafarians over the course of the novel. Instincts tell me that there is a significance that the culture plays a large role in the story, but I'm struggling about what it would be. They have their imply they have a prophesy about the group and show some hesitation about Wintermute. Case also has some interesting dialogues with the Rastafarians. It also make me wonder about how Gibson learned about the Rastafarian culture to write about it.

Alec Brace said...

After finishing the novel, I was having really mixed feelings about how Gibson lays out "relationships" in the story, especially with respect to Case and Linda as well as Case and Molly. Gibson lays out Case as a guy who doesn't seem to care all that much for Linda in the beginning because after her death he shifts immediately into his relationship with Molly. Then we see Neuromancer trying to persuade Case with visions of existing with Linda in his cyberspace and he declines it rather readily. Following the abrupt ending we learn that Molly leaves Case, not wanting to seem weak even though she was pretty obviously the man in the relationship.
Taking all these facts, I'm trying to understand what role Gibson placed on relationships in his world. Had they become meaningless distractions in an attempt to hold onto the past? Or was he trying to bring about an idea that changing yourself in such drastic ways does not lead to love and happiness, but to a basic exchange of loveless passion to satisfy human desires the matrix cannot fulfill? I'm leaning more towards the latter, but I think it could easily be a combination of both.

Kyle McManigle said...

I am somewhat confused with what happened with some of the characters in the second half of the book, but something about it made me also like it, and drew me into the book more. Molly is clearly displayed as this badass character, who seems almost like a Robocop type machine. She opens up significantly in an emotional way to Case telling him the back story of how she came to be what she is, which at first didn't seem like much to be. However, when she tells Case, starting around page 176, about her previous guy and partner Johnny, things get much more intimately serious. After telling him the details of their relationship she follows it up on page 178 saying that she never found anyone she gave a damn about after that, which make me think Case could be that person. She also tells him how they are similar in certain ways, and gives further emotional about having Case in her life and trust on page 189. Case even says something about how she he hadn't known anything of this kind of detail about her in any sense. So I was left trying to figure out why she opened up like this despite her strong appearance in a significantly different tone in the first half of the book. However, I found this conversation to be very interesting and actually made me think about the book more in a positive light than I had previously. It clearly outlines her still strong human character despite her depiction as being a literal killing machine. To me, it further highlights just how strong she is because it eliminates the cold hardwired feeling I got from her previously. At the human level, it makes everything seem like it's on a much bigger stage.

Shane Bombara said...

I’m questioning why Molly would leave? In her note on page 267 she says "Hey it's okay but it's taking the edge off my game." Then she goes on to say "it's the way i'm wired I guess." Is this really just the way she is wired or does it have to do with Johnny? Johnny was her boyfriend that was murdered by the Yakuza. She says that "[they] were living fat, swiss orbital accounts and a crib full of toys and furniture. Takes the edge off your game" (177). She practically uses the same phrase twice, which clearly it has made an impact on her. Has she not moved on yet from what happened to Johnny and now she feels the need to finally leave? Is it because if she settles down with Case she's afraid that the same thing will happen like it did with Johnny?

Jessica Merrill said...

The time that Case spent flatlined at the "beach" confused me. Two things didn't seem right: that he called up Ratz for company, and that Linda was there. Ratz had not been mentioned since the first part of the novel. In this scene, he seems to represent a friend that Case can talk to in a time of need. My question is, why does he need him? Linda also represents an old part of his life. Why is she the one to visit him there? And why does Case sleep with her again? Is there something about his past that he feels he needs to relive/ understand better? Does he feel like his time in Chiba, not in the matrix, was a better time for him?

Kevin Weatherspoon said...

From reading the second half of Neuromancer, I started to feel more engaged compared to how I felt reading the first half. The book started to make more sense and had me wanting to read more even though some parts I was still puzzled about. For instance, in chapter 19 when Molly was injured, Case and Maelcum have to penetrate Villa Straylight to rescue her. But as talked about in the book about the role of cooperation itself, how does the life support systems of Villa Straylight make a symbolization when she’s getting treated? This whole section made me re-read what exactly was going on in order for me to move on with the book still making sense.