Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Neuromancer Study Guide." Course Hero. 11 Aug. 2017. Web. 13 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Neuromancer/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2017, August 11). Neuromancer Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 13, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Neuromancer/

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Neuromancer Study Guide." August 11, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Neuromancer/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Neuromancer Study Guide," August 11, 2017, accessed November 13, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Neuromancer/.

William Gibson | Biography

Share
Share

Early Life

William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian science fiction writer. Gibson was born in Conway, South Carolina, on March 17, 1948. His father managed a construction company tasked with building major projects in different places. The Gibson family moved repeatedly when Gibson was young, but he mostly grew up in the state of Virginia. Gibson read widely in science fiction during his teen years but also enjoyed 1950s American Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs, who experimented with language and drug use as part of a movement of nonconformity and social revolution.

Embracing the Counterculture

Inspired by these rebel writers, Gibson dropped out of high school. Because the United States was drafting young men to fight in the Vietnam War (1955–75 conflict between communist North Vietnam and democratic South Vietnam, which was supported by the United States), Gibson set out to avoid the draft. He told the draft board his goal in life was to become "like William Burroughs" and take every mind-altering substance he could. He then moved to Canada in 1967, where he became part of the Canadian counterculture movement and, true to his word, began experimenting with mind-altering drugs.

For a time, Gibson didn't have a home of his own, and he stayed with friends. He eventually got a job at Gandalf's, Toronto's first head shop, which sold all sorts of drug-related goods. When the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) did a news story on the hippie subculture in 1967, they interviewed Gibson, who has since said he lied throughout the interview.

Finding His Path

Gibson met his wife in Toronto, and he followed her to Vancouver. He attended college in Canada, earning a bachelor of arts degree from the University of British Columbia in 1977. By age 30 Gibson's career had no real direction. He worked in a boat factory and spent time visiting thrift shops, looking for items he could resell to dealers. He published only one science fiction story. Then he met science fiction writer John Shirley, who also played in a punk rock band (loud, fast, aggressive music of the 1970s and 80s). This meeting inspired Gibson to try writing science fiction more seriously. In the early 1980s he published several influential short stories in Omni magazine, the highest-paying science magazine. These included "Johnny Mnemonic" (1981) and "Burning Chrome" (1982). The publication of these stories earned Gibson a reputation within the science fiction community.

Neuromancer

In 1982 science fiction anthologist Terry Carr approached Gibson about writing a novel, due to the strength of the stories he had published in Omni. Gibson had no idea how to write a novel but agreed, and he says Carr's offer of a contract before he started the novel was essential to him finishing the book that became Neuromancer.

Within the literary world of science fiction, Neuromancer became an immediate popular and critical success, and it has since sold more than six million copies worldwide. The novel received three major awards in science fiction: the Hugo (voted on by fans) and the Nebula (voted on by writers). It also won the Philip K. Dick Award, an annual juried award for best paperback science fiction.

Neuromancer regularly shows up on lists of the best science fiction novels ever written. The novel also helped drive science fiction in a new direction. When influential science fiction editor Gardner Dozois wrote an article for The Washington Post on the genre in the 1980s, he singled out Gibson as a central player in the emerging "cyberpunk" movement. The novel's success and influence has since spread beyond the limits of science fiction. Time magazine listed Neuromancer as one of the top 100 novels in English written since 1923, and science fiction author Jack Womack argues that the Internet took the shape it did in part because of Gibson's influence. Neuromancer has been made into a comic book, an audio book, an opera, and a video game.

Since completing his first trilogy, Gibson has continued to write science fiction. These later works addressed similar themes of identity, information, and media. For example, the 2003 novel Pattern Recognition, like Neuromancer, focuses on complex mysteries that could only exist in the information age. However, while these later works were well-received, none made the impact that Gibson's early cyberpunk work did.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Neuromancer? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!