Science Fiction: A Genre based on Imagined Future Scientific

Science fiction is a genre that is based on “imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes” that can challenge and disrupt traditional perspectives of morality and behaviour. Each science fiction text explores but one of the numerous possibilities of the speculative and extrapolative ideas, with the author’s own views being placed throughout the text both intentionally and unintentionally. The genre concerns itself with the understanding of both past and present societies, with the futuristic visions being the outcome.

These futuristic ideals are projections of our societies throughout time and space, given that science fiction also deals with varied contexts along the space time continuum, depending on which sub-genre the text belongs to within science fiction. The genre disperses into various types of science fiction including hard-core science fiction, social science fiction, and heroic science fiction, just to name a few. The sub-genre discussed throughout this critical reading is cyberpunk, “a genre of science fiction set in a lawless subculture of an oppressive society dominated by computer technology. This sub-genre gives us a wide viewpoint as to the challenging of traditional perspectives, particularly in regards to morality and behavior. Numerous science fiction texts delve into the understandings of morality and behaviour, with the ideas within challenging traditional perspectives of the aforementioned aspects. Neuromancer, by William Gibson, is just one of these texts that explores technology – or in this case, the controlling, and parenting attributes of technology – through the embodiment and disembodiment of the main characters, Case and Molly.

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Stepping Razor in Orbit: Postmodern Identity and Political Alternatives in William Gibson’s Neuromancer by Benjamin Fair, as well as The Narrative Construction of Cyberspace: Reading Neuromancer, Reading Cyberspace Debates by Daniel Punday, are two articles that have supported the ideas of technology parenting the human race, the glorification of disembodiment, as well as the desire to become something more. The articles explore the experimentation with these ideas to extend on a person’s understanding of how science fiction challenges and disrupts traditional perspectives.

Technology has driven the human race to the point that it has become a necessary part of our existence, influencing our morals and behaviour throughout every day life. Neuromancer demonstrates this, with the human body being a dystopia for Case. “A sense of disembodiment is the ideal” for the man driven to achieve his “homecoming that brings him back into contact with a network of human information,” the Matrix.

Throughout Neuromancer we are shown the ways in which Case bases his identity on “an alienating system that the Matrix represents and enacts,” with his “distant fingers caressing the desk, tears of release streaking his face” when finally he is able to reintegrate with the systematic database he has been denied so long. The idea that we have become dependant on technology resonates through Gibson’s novel, with Case’s addiction to reconnecting with the Matrix driving the anti-hero to serve others while keeping his own motives in mind.

Case has an urge, a need, to leave the body and connect solely with the Matrix, with this desire being positioned deep in self-loathing. This self-loathing passion for disembodiment fuels the idea of technology, and drives the anti-hero to demonstrate the ways in which technology has become a leading power within our lives, influencing our morals and behaviour, whilst challenging our traditional perspectives. Juxtaposing this fulfilling desire of disembodiment, however, we have a “reference to embodiment that affirms [physical identity] as the source of [Case’s] power. Despite the original idea of the human body being a hindrance to the technologically advanced society, we eventually see “the prison of [our] own flesh” inverting its role and becoming a source of empowerment. This gives us an overwhelming sense of self-actualisation; achieving realisations in ourselves through these experiences of embodiment and disembodiment, and freeing ourselves from the metaphorical prison of our own body. Gibson challenges the traditional perspectives of morality and behaviour through not only the affirmation of embodiment, but also the near-glorification of disembodiment.

By experimenting with these bodily states, science fiction allows us to understand the challenging and disruption of morality and behaviour’s traditional perspectives. The idea that technology has become a parent figure to the human race is reiterated when Case “reflects on his involvement with larger political and social powers. ” These understandings put the individual in such a position that they become a “kind of parasite within the parent organism,” which then takes the role of disassociating the individual who does not agree with, or support the goals, values and ideals of the larger system to which they belong.

Gibson’s Neuromancer presents positive ways in which individuals made into the minority “retain freedom by virtue of their position on the margins,” as seen through Case’s refusal to follow structured daily life styles, and instead living his life in order to correct his bodily functions (or rather, non-bodily functions) and reintegrate with the Matrix. The human body eventually becomes a sanctuary, a safe haven from the technological advancements occurring in the outside world, “a place of security and belonging – self-acceptance – in contrast to the insecurity and alienation of cyberspace. The body becomes one’s own space, as the “issue in question is the urges behind the ideals promoted by those who find the body inadequate. ” Molly exemplifies this idea as she exposes herself to numerous technological ‘enhancements,’ just one being the procedure which allows her hands to hold “ten double-edged, four-centimetre scalpel blades. ” These bodily adaptations echo the need to further our development both behaviourally and morally as humans, as we attempt to extend out abilities from that of humans to that of something more powerful.

This desire to become something more can be understood through “the novel continually returning to the uneven spaces where the parts of individuals are assembled into some whole. ” The idea of one part trying to do many jobs is clearly not going to be as efficient as many parts focusing on one role, and fulfilling that purpose extremely well. By adding onto our existing beings, we allow ourselves to grow and have more components added to our original form.

However, the more additions we make, the more chances of the final form falling apart, as demonstrated in Gibson’s novel when “[Case] watched [Linda’s] personality fragment, calving like an iceberg, splinters drifting away. ” Similar to a machine, if you add too many components, it is easier for one to malfunction, bringing the remaining crashing down. Despite this knowledge being instilled in humanity, we still experience needs to be something more powerful that what we already are.

This in itself is humanity’s greatest downfall: the knowledge that while becoming more powerful, we are becoming more likely to fail. This drive for power challenges the traditional views on morality, with the desire overcoming our righteousness in some cases, leading us to be an anti-hero in our own lives. Reinforcing the idea that we are made of distinct, individual parts, Gibson has Peter Riviera recreate a holographic representation of Molly, “visualizing some part of her, only a small part, if [Riviera] could see hat perfectly, in the most perfect detail…” then he could understand that the “process of assemblage depends on a fundamental tension between the physical and the imaginative. ” These contradictory ideas represent the ideas behind an object, with each perfected product, be it human, object, material or notion, there is an imaginative idea that led to the production or design. Obviously this does not need to refer only to a product, however.

A person’s identity is made up of an imaginative idea combined with a physical ‘shell,’ and one without the other leaves an uninterpretable chaos of thoughts or actions. This imaginative idea is what influences our very life, guiding our moral compass as we endeavour to live with experimentation in our morals and behaviour. Science fiction is a genre that challenges ideas of present societies, and projects them into the future, creating texts that reinforce themes that disrupt traditional perspectives of morality and behaviour.

Through the exploration of technology parenting the human race, the glorification of disembodiment, as well as the desire to become something more, the articles (Stepping Razor in Orbit: Postmodern Identity and Political Alternatives in William Gibson’s Neuromancer by Benjamin Fair, and The Narrative Construction of Cyberspace: Reading Neuromancer, Reading Cyberspace Debates by Daniel Punday) have increased the understanding of how science fiction experiments with morality and behaviour to challenge traditional perspectives.

These ideas have been collected from William Gibson’s, Neuromancer, and been studied and explained throughout the aforementioned articles. The essentiality of technology is enforced, while the juxtaposition of disembodiment is discussed in detail throughout the articles, as they also bring up the issue of technology parenting the human race, complimenting the desire to become something more than what we are. The idea that we are made up, created and maintained of distinct individual parts is again explored throughout the entire novel, with references being placed within the text.

These ideas challenge and disrupt traditional perspectives, while increasing one’s understanding of the text, Neuromancer, by William Gibson. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. New Oxford American Dictionary, Third Edition [ 2 ]. ibid. [ 3 ]. William Gibson (1995): Neuromancer, Paperback edition [ 4 ]. Benjamin Fair (2005): Stepping Razor in Orbit: Postmodern Identity and Political Alternatives in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, pp. 92-103 [ 5 ]. Daniel Punday (2000): The Narrative Construction of Cyberspace: Reading Neuromancer, Reading Cyberspace Debates, College English, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp. 194-213 [ 6 ]. Benjamin Fair (2005): Stepping Razor in Orbit: Postmodern Identity and Political Alternatives in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, pp. 98 [ 7 ]. Daniel Punday (2000): The Narrative Construction of Cyberspace: Reading Neuromancer, Reading Cyberspace Debates, College English, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 200 [ 8 ]. Benjamin Fair (2005): Stepping Razor in Orbit: Postmodern Identity and Political Alternatives in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, pp. 8 [ 9 ]. William Gibson (1995): Neuromancer, Paperback edition, pp. 69 [ 10 ]. Benjamin Fair (2005): Stepping Razor in Orbit: Postmodern Identity and Political Alternatives in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, pp. 98 [ 11 ]. William Gibson (1995): Neuromancer, Paperback edition, pp. 12 [ 12 ]. Daniel Punday (2000): The Narrative Construction of Cyberspace: Reading Neuromancer, Reading Cyberspace Debates, College English, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 201 [ 13 ]. ibid [ 14 ]. ibid [ 15 ].

Benjamin Fair (2005): Stepping Razor in Orbit: Postmodern Identity and Political Alternatives in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, pp. 99 [ 16 ]. ibid [ 17 ]. William Gibson (1995): Neuromancer, Paperback edition, pp. 37 [ 18 ]. Daniel Punday (2000): The Narrative Construction of Cyberspace: Reading Neuromancer, Reading Cyberspace Debates, College English, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 202 [ 19 ]. William Gibson (1995): Neuromancer, Paperback edition, pp. 16 [ 20 ]. William Gibson (1995): Neuromancer, Paperback edition, pp. 67 (ellipsis in original) [ 21 ]. Daniel Punday (2000): The Narrative Construction of Cyberspace: Reading Neuromancer, Reading Cyberspace Debates, College English, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 203 [ 22 ]. Benjamin Fair (2005): Stepping Razor in Orbit: Postmodern Identity and Political Alternatives in William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction, pp. 92-103 [ 23 ]. Daniel Punday (2000): The Narrative Construction of Cyberspace: Reading Neuromancer, Reading Cyberspace Debates, College English, Vol. 63, No. 2, pp. 194-213

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