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I have found Neuromancer to be a confusing book to read. Besides the plot not making much sense to me until after reading chapters 5-6, what really got me confused was the use of certain words in the world of Neuromancer. To me, word use is pretty important as they can give you a sense of what the characters are talking about or what their world looks like. There were some words I recognized, some I didn’t understand (used a dictionary to get an understanding), and some that were given a whole new meaning.

Some words that I recognized were Matrix (a rectangular array of quantities (numbers) in rows and columns1) and Nexus (a link or connection1).  Not only do these words have a dictionary meaning, but a meaning in the movies The Matrix and Blade Runner respectively. I was quite surprised to find these words in this book and I’m curious if the book and movies have a connection in one way or another (as Blade Runner come out first, then Neuromancer, then The Matrix) .

There were some words I didn’t understand at all, like the word ICE (Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics). Though I believe the word (or acronym) ICE is a description for a computer program in Neuromancer, it seems similar to our ECM (Electronics Counter Measures) systems used in today’s military.  But, instead of blocking or jamming radar signals, it blocks out viruses or hackers from their computers (like when Case had to hack into Sense/Net to get some data… or something).

But the words that gave me the most confusion were deck and sprawl (the disorganized expansion of an urban area into the adjoining countryside1). The word deck has multiple meanings, like card deck, cassette deck, ship deck. There is not a exact description for it, so maybe its some kind of, well, computer deck, a monitor and some kind of device or another to access (or jack in) the matrix or, err, cyberspace (or whatever). I also noticed this word only relates to Case when he goes into the matrix/cyberspace.

Sprawl is not given an exact description either and confuses how I should imagine the Neuromancer world. Where is this sprawl? Is on the ground, with cars and buildings or above ground like a scene in the Jetsons? I could assume it’s on the ground, as it seems to have buildings, trains and many domes or geodesics, like the one in Disney-Epcot:

[picture of Epcot geodeic]



But then the word “hovercraft” comes up, so should I now assume that the sprawl is above ground and the trains are like the Disney Monorail?


[picture of Disney monorail]


Apologies for relating Neuromancer to Disney World, but I can’t find any other way to imagine the Neuromancer world. The vague use of the word sprawl, and so many others,  just don’t do any justice for my understanding of it.  Maybe the words, like the plot, will become clearer (or at least get an explanation (like the word fence in chap. 5)) as the book continues.

1 Definitions from WordReference.com

One Response to “In the Words of Neuromancer”

  1. Lord Dubu says:

    The Sprawl is a contiguous city that covers a massive portion of what was once the U.S.

    Decks in Neuromancer look like computer keyboards. They’re effectively lap-tops without a screen… as the “screen” is generated by interfacing directly with the brain.

    ICE are defensive software that fry decks and or brains to keep intruders out of protected systems.