Conceptual Cyberspace in Neuromancer

Daniel Byers '08, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Spring 2005)

The following paragraph gives an intense vision of Gibson's imagined cyberspace, displaying its physical makeup as well as describing some of its fundamental properties. Gibson's theories of cyberspace are startlingly innovative but somewhat strange, and possibly implausible when viewed in a modern light. However, the theory of a sense-capable matrix is as popular as it has ever been in with recent media treatment, and Gibson's ideas give strong insight to the development of such a concept.

Case's virus had bored a window through the library's command ice. He punched himself through and found an infinite blue space ranged with color-coded spheres strung on a tight grid of pale blue neon. In the nonspace of the matrix, the interior of a given data construct possesed unlimited subjective dimension; a child's toy calculator, accessed through Case's Sendai, would have presented limitless gulfs of nothingness hung with a few basic commands. Case began to key the sequence the Finn had purchased from a mid-echelon sarariman with severe drug problems. He began to glide through the spheres as if he were on invisible tracks.


1. What are the similarities between Gibson's matrix and the current matrix of the world wide web? Could the current system develop into something graphics and sense-based?

2. Considered with modern knowledge, is the concept of constructs containing unlimited subjective dimension plausible, or is everything constrained by real space, ie, a hard drive can only hold so much data.

3. Is hacking in physically-represented space completely cy-punk/hollywood/Hackers, or could terrorists someday be flying around virtual data blocks and punching through "ice." Are there any modern similarities?

4. Given current effects of people spending huge amounts of time in limited cyberspace, what would be possible effects on people with this more fully involved alternate reality?

5. Throughout the novel Gibson asks about the implications of an artificial intelligence that thinks it is sentient but potentially is not? Can something believe it's sentient when it's not? Does such a belief require a level of sentience?


Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Ace Books, 1984.

Cyberspace OV Cyborg  Mona Lisa Overdrive

Last modified 14 February 2005