William Gibson

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Themes and Colors
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Neuromancer, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Technology and the Body

Neuromancer takes place in a world where technology is taking over, and many characters prefer the world of cyberspace to the organic one. Case, the novel’s protagonist, is a console cowboy who makes his living plugging in to the matrix. He is dismayed to be stuck in a physical body, which he often derisively refers to as “meat.” Bodies have needs and desires—hunger, exhaustion, lust, addiction—and he sees these as distractions. However, although…

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Identity and Personhood

Questions of identity and personhood are at the center of Neuromancer’s plot—specifically, questions of who counts as a person, and what qualifies as a personality. The world is populated with artificial intelligences, digital reconstructions of the dead, clones, and people who have constructed new personalities to protect themselves from past trauma. Neuromancer therefore advocates for a wide definition of personhood—which grants life and rights to anything with a consciousness, artificial or otherwise.

One of…

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Self-Interest vs. Human Connection

Neuromancer is set primarily in criminal underworlds in which characters are motivated by money and their own sense of self-interest and self-preservation. Interpersonal relationships often fall by the wayside, as men like Case and women like Molly prioritize their own financial gain or personal pleasure over the lives of others. However, over the course of the novel both Case and Molly begin to develop feelings for each other, and become motivated by their love (and…

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Addiction and Dependency

Case, Riviera, Linda Lee, and others struggle with their addictions to drugs and alcohol, but also to sex, violence, and technology. These characters and others have experienced trauma in their pasts, which leads them to seek out substances and experiences that will numb the pain. Neuromancer therefore depicts addiction as the result of a search for coping mechanisms to deal with trauma and the stresses of the modern world.

Many characters in…

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Reality and Perception

Neuromancer takes place half in the organic world, and half in cyberspace. Although common sense would describe the world outside of computers as “real” and the matrix as an illusion, both are seen as equally real by the characters in the novel. Furthermore, their “real” world is populated by constructs that blur the line between reality and illusion—artificial intelligences take on the masks of real people to deliver speeches, and people are able to…

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