The Human "Medium"

Lyla Fujiwara '10, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Fall 2006)

One of the most striking differences between Neuromancer and Count Zero is the narration. While Neuromancer follows the path of Case, Count Zero presents the reader with three separate and seemingly unrelated story lines. At first the reader is given only loose connections between the characters which serve to foreshadow a seemingly fated collision. But it is not till the final chapters that the reader begins to transcend the specific situations of the characters and see the entire picture. The switch can be disconcerting. For instance, main characters, such as Bobby, who have confided their inner most thoughts to the reader, are revaluated. Here Jammer, Jackie, and Bobby are shown to the reader again through the medium of a stranger:

The tall black girl with the resistors woven into her hair stepped forward and gently put her arm around Mitchell's daughter, crooning something in that same click-infested Creole. The kid in the T-shirt was still gaping at her, his jaw slack. "Come on Bobby," the black girl said. Turner glanced across the desk at the man with the wounded hand, who wore a wrinkled white evening jacket and a bolo tie with thongs of braided black leather. Jammer, Turner decided, the club owner. Jammer cradled his hand in his lap, on a blue-striped towel from the bar. He had a long face, the kind of beard that needed constant shaving, and the hard, narrow eyes of a stone professional. As their eyes met, Turner realized that the man sat well out of the line of the phone's camera, his swivel chair pushed back into a corner. [Gibson, 250]


1. Before the characters actually meet, how do we know their positions in space and time in comparison to one another?

2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of narrating a story using multiple characters. Which of Gibson's two narration styles do you find more effective? Was Neuromancer truly narrated by Case alone? How does simstim factor into all of this?

3. How does Gibson define and differenciate the three characters? What are their unique qualities? What personal problems do they face? How do the characters differ from Case?

4. Bobby Newmark, aka. Count Zero, is credited with saving the day but is his character of such importance that it should be title of the novel? What is Gibson implying by using the phrase "COUNT ZERO INTERRUPT - On receiving and interrupt, decrement the counter to zero." as the first sentence of the novel?


Gibson, William Count Zero. New York: Ace Books, 1986.

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

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Last modified 17 September 2006