Neuromancer: A Fluid Identity


“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”

As I’ve been reading Neuromancer by William Gibson, I’ve (so far) thoroughly never enjoyed a book as much as I’ve enjoyed Neuromancer since reading “Catcher in the Rye”. There is something about the bleak attitude of the novel and the almost pessimistic undertone in Neuromancer that interests me. Although the futuristic language and concept of the cyber-dystopia is hard to grasp while reading, I believe many themes of the book are relevant today. The theme that I think is most interesting is the theme of “identity” that is shown throughout the novel.

As we’re thrown into a non-specific time in the future, ones identity in this dystopia is able to be reconstructed with the help of advanced technology. However, it’s not just a persons physical identity that can be altered in this time (such as Molly’s glasses); it’s their mental identity that can be changed too. This is evident in the personality that Wintermute constructed for Corto after his psychological state was too damaged, called Armitage

I found this most interesting because although there are some advantages to having all this technology, in a way it’s like there is a loss of identity as well. For example, the intense cosmetic surgery shown to alter someones identity might help characters like Armitage and Riviera appear younger, but it also takes away from their physical identity.

All of these identity changes, such as: physical add-ons (Molly’s sunglasses), cosmetic surgery (Armitage and Rivieras constructed faces), and fabricated personalities (Armitage) transform the meaning of identity in this futuristic world. What even is an identity in “Neuromancer”? In my opinion, it is a fluid state of being that reflects personal identity for whatever benefit. There is no set identity of who you are, because there is such advanced technology available to society to change pretty much anything they’d like about their mental or physical state.

In the year 2016, “Neuromancer’s” theme of an identity that can be altered however one would like is more relevant now than ever. We are living in the time of social media being one of the main elements of our identity. With the technology of social media, you can portray yourself basically however you’d like to the online public. You can post pictures of yourself from whatever deceiving or flattering angle you please; and can tweet or post your personal thoughts or images to reflect who you want people to view you as. Although we are not actually altering our physical and mental states as shown in “Neuromancer”, we can alter our identity online with a simple click of a button.

“Neuromancer’s” theme of a modifiable identity is relevant to our society now because we can alter how people perceive ourselves in cyberspace. As “Neuromancer” foreshadows, the fluidity of our identity is only becoming more and more changeable as technology advances.


“The future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.”


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