My SFRA 2015 Conference Presentation: The Cyberspace Deck as a Mechanism: Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy as a Voyager Expanded Book

The presentation that I will be giving tomorrow afternoon at 1:00PM at the annual Science Fiction Research Association Conference (this year at Stony Brook University on June 25-27, 2015) will be nothing like the title and abstract that I submitted earlier this year, but that’s a good thing. Over the past several months, my reading and research has focused on one small corner of that original abstract: The Voyager Company’s Expanded Book Edition of William Gibson’s Neuromancer with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1992). I began to see the cyberspace deck as an important image and mechanism connecting Gibson’s fictional world with our contemporary shift from written to digital culture.

Above,  you can watch a demo video that will accompany my presentation as a backdrop to my talk, and below, you can find my paper’s abstract, useful links, and my works cited list for reference. I will have handouts of this information available at the session tomorrow, too.


The Cyberspace Deck as a Mechanism: Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy as a Voyager Expanded Book


Instead of focusing on the epistemology or ontology of cyberspace, this paper explores the cyberspace deck in William Gibson’s fictions as a mechanism of inscription. It does this by charting Gibson’s inspiration in the Apple IIc, his comparison of it to the first Apple PowerBooks, and the publication of his cyberspace deck-infused fictions as the Voyager Company Expanded Book edition in 1992. Through discussing these connections, it addresses other issues of importance for the current shift from written culture to digital culture, such as the effect of reading on screens as opposed to print, and the effect of digital culture on the human brain.

Useful Links:

Conference Demo Video (embedded above):

Google Glass, iPad, PowerBook 145 Demo Video:

Mini vMac Emulation Software:

Emaculation Emulation Community:

Works Cited

Casimir, Jon. “Voyager Seeks to Improve Thinking.” Sydney Morning Herald (23 May 1995): n.p. Web. 18 May 2015.

DeStefano, Diana and Jo-Anne LeFebre. “Cognitive Load in Hypertext Reading: A Review.” Computers in Human Behavior 23 (2007): 1616-1641. Web. 22 June 2015.

Gibson, William. “Afterword.” Neuromancer with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Santa Monica, CA: Voyager Company, 1992. n.p. 3.5” Floppy Disk.

—. Burning Chrome. New York: EOS, 2003. Print.

—. Count Zero. New York: Ace, 1987. Print.

—. Mona Lisa Overdrive. New York: Bantam, 1989. Print.

—. Neuromancer. New York: Ace, 1984. Print.

—. Neuromancer with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Santa Monica, CA: Voyager Company, 1992. 3.5” Floppy Disk.

—. Package. Neuromancer with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Santa Monica, CA: Voyager Company, 1992. 3.5” Floppy Disk.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. Print.

Markley, Robert. “Boundaries: Mathematics, Alientation, and the Metaphysics of Cyberspace.” Configurations 2.3 (1994): 485-507. Web. 23 June 2015.

Matazzoni, Joe. “Books in a New Light.” Publish (October 1992): 16-21. Print.

Mazlish, Bruce. The Fourth Discontinuity: The Co-Evolution of Humans and Machines. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993. Print.

Sellen, Abigail J. and Richard H.R. Harper. The Myth of the Paperless Office. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002. Print.

Virshup, Amy. “The Teachings of Bob Stein.” Wired (April 2007): n.p. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.

Wolf, Maryanne. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. New York: Harper Perennial, 2007.

Neuromancer Comes

As first reported on JoBlo, and repeated on Slashfilm, Hayden Christensen is cast as Case in the upcoming Neuromancer film helmed by Joseph Kahn.  First, I have a terrible feeling about Christensen playing Case, and I’m not just talking about his abysmal performances in the the Star Wars prequels (did anyone see Life as a House in 2001).  Case exudes a shut-the-fuck-up, I-don’t-give-a-shit, who-the-fuck-woke-me-up attitude.  Just look at Christensen, the best look he can give is a blank stare and a fake laugh.

More importantly the issue I take with this production of Neuromancer is that I believe its time has past.  Don’t get me wrong, I love cyberpunk, and I think Rudy Rucker and Marc Laidlaw’s recent “The Pefect Wave” novelette in Asimov’s (January 2008) is par excellence!  The thing is that William Gibson’s Neuromancer is twenty-four years old.  It was mind-blowing SF at its initial publication, and it heralded the beginning of cyberpunk.  Additionally, it furthered the postmodern project in SF.  Neuromancer is still future-oriented SF, but without a proper script and a dedicated director who “gets” cyberpunk and Neuromancer, it will, as others have pointed out, become the next Johnny Mnemonic film.  Another point about timing has to do with Gibson’s own recent SF.  His last novel, Spook Country, is SF, but it’s about the past (and not in a steampunk kind of way).  Gibson locates the future in the recent past in that novel (see also his short story, “The Gernsback Continuum”).

Of course, I’m speaking as a fan rather than as a critic regarding the production of Neuromancer.  I welcome any and all narratives whether they are textual, filmic, or otherwise.  However, professionally, I would prefer to talk about something hard-hitting, interesting, and well executed than something that I would consider a dead weight to American culture.