Islamic Azad University-Central Tehran Branch
Faculty of Foreign Languages
Department of Postgraduate Studies
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Postgraduate Studies in Partial Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in English Language and Literature
Reading William Gibson’s Trilogy;
Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive,
In the Light of Jean Baudrillard’s Theories
Dr. Farid Parvaneh
Dr. Razieh Eslamieh
(در فایل دانلودی نام نویسنده موجود است)
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This thesis is an attempt to investigate William Gibson’s Trilogy; Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988), in the light of Jean Baudrillard’s critical theories which are categorized under two main headings; “simulation” and “disappearance.” Indeed, this study aims to divulge the specific kinds of ‘simulation’ and ‘disappearance,’ such as ‘the simulation of power’ and ‘the disappearance of the human (body) and the other(‘s body) in Gibson’s Trilogy. Therefore, the researcher elucidates the argument in three main chapters besides the chapters of introduction and conclusion. The second chapter provides a theoretical framework for this study through delineating Baudrillard’s key concepts, such as “hyperreality,” “simulacrum,” “simulation,” “disappearance,” etc. Baudrillard believes that power no longer exists except as “the simulation of power.” He demonstrates “the simulation of power” through expanding on “the hallucination of power,” “the circularization of power/the end of panopticon,” and “the simulation of terror.” With having recourse to these theories, the third chapter seeks to reveal the instances of “the simulation of power” in Gibson’s technological world. The fourth chapter, with an emphasis on the central notion of “disappearance,” attempts to indicate the metamorphosis of the human (body) to the post-human (body) and the recognition of the other(‘s body) which are caused by cyber- technologies, “cyborg” and “cyberspace.” Thus, the main focus of this chapter is to scrutinize the different types of hybrid characters that are continuously merging with ‘cyber- technologies’ and the different kinds of ‘cybertechnologies’ in order to delineate “the disappearance of the human (body) and the other(‘s body)” in light of Baudrillard’s theories in Gibson’s novels. Chapter five presents the findings. As this study concludes, Gibson’ novels depict the technological world in which everything might be simulated/disappeared, or rather redefined through merging with ‘cybertechnologies.’
Keywords: Hyperreality, Simulacrum, Simulation of power, Disappearance of the human (body), Disappearance of the other(‘s body), Jean Baudrillard, William Gibson
List of Abbreviations
C Z Gibson, William. Count Zero. N.p.: Arbor House Pub Co, 1986.
F F Baudrillard, Jean. Forget Foucault. Trans. Nicole Dufresne. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2007.
M L O Gibson, William. Mona Lisa Overdrive. N.p:N.p, .
N Gibson, William. Neuromancer. N.p:N.p, .
S & S Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, [1994?].
T T O E Baudrillard, Jean. The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena. Trans. James Benedict. London and New York: Verso, 1993.
Table of Contents
Abstract .. III
List of Abbreviations……………………………………………………………V
Chapter One: Introduction
- General Background
William Ford Gibson, an American author, was born in 1948 in South Carolina. He was interested in science fictions and used to read the biographies of most American science fiction writers, and also the writings of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs, thus, he was influenced by William S. Burroughs. Gibson “was among the first to explore the implication of virtual communities, reality television, nanotechnology, the digital divide, locative art, and ubiquitous computing” (Henthorne 4). His fictions represent a technological society in which the traits of street culture, such as crime, drug addiction, horror, and chaos are highlighted (Cavallaro 5). Indeed, Gibson was among the first authors who wrote cyberpunk fictions. Cyberpunk fictions “can be seen as an expansion of the tradition of science fiction” (Verhulsdonck 14), a genre which narrates new technological modes of being in “an era of blurred ontologies” (Russell 79). Gibson started his literary career by his short stories which were collected in Burning Chrome (1986). His short stories were followed by his Sprawl Trilogy; Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988). The following novels are the Bridge Trilogy; Virtual Light (1993), Idoru (1996), All Tomorrow’s Parties (1999), and the Bigend Trilogy; Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007), Zero History (2010).
This study is focused on the Sprawl Trilogy; Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988). Neuromancer (1984) is a story of a console cowboy/ hacker, Henry Case, whose nervous system was damaged by his employers through Russian “mycotoxin,” so he cannot jack in cyberspace anymore. Case lives in a coffin in Cheap Hotel near Ninsei Street. He usually spends nights in Ninsei Street bars. Wage, Linda Lee (Case’s ex-girlfriend), and Julius Deane are the important characters in this period of Case’s life. After a year, one night when Case goes back to his coffin, a lady, Molly Millions, is waiting there. She was hired to help Case in a dangerous run which Armitage wants Case to do it. Indeed, Armitage wants to control Case through the glasses which were implanted into Molly’s eyes. After Case accepts to do the run, Armitage sends Case to a clinic to undergo a nervous system surgery in order to be able to jack in cyberspace again. Indeed, he feels alive when he is connected to cyberspace (Lloyd 8). And also, some “toxin sacs” are bonded to his arteries to control him.
After the surgery, Case and Molly live and work with each other. Whenever Molly goes to a place for work, Case controls the situation by jacking in cyberspace and connecting to her sensorium. He can see through her eyes and feel her feelings and sensations. Up to the middle of the story, they do not really know whom they are working for. Indeed, they are working for Wintermute, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that persuades Case to help Wintermute to unite with another AI, Neuromancer, in order to increase their power. Meanwhile, Case searches about AIs, Tessier-Ashpool, and their daughter, Lady 3Jane through jacking in cyberspace and talking to Dixie-Flatline (a memory construct). Then, Molly is sent to Villa Straylight where she meets Lady 3Jane and her assistant, Peter Riveria. Molly gets hurt there. When Case sees Molly in danger, he jacks out cyberspace and goes to Villa Straylight in order to save her and complete the run. After their mission, Case goes to Chiba City and buys new parts of body, such as a pancreas and a liver. Then, he goes back to the Sprawl, and finds a job and a girlfriend. He continues his normal life in society and never sees Molly again.
Count Zero (1986), is divided into three stories which are connected to each other. One story focuses on Turner who had been survived from an accident by a Dutch surgeon. The Dutch surgeon with his team put Turner together by using prosthetics and cloning. “Turner represents the most physical breakdown of the opposition between man and machine” (Naidoo 97). He is hired by Conroy to find Christopher Mitchell and bring him to Hosaka. Conroy provides Turner with Christopher Mitchell’s dossier to know him. Turner and the members of a team called Site Team are supposed to control Mitchell’s jet through a biosoft, but there is an explosion before they can get Christopher Mitchell. Therefore, Turner finds Mitchell’s daughter, Angela, instead of Christopher. Angela, also known as Angie, explains everything about his father and herself to Turner. She tells him the members of Hosaka are after her because of her dreams. Then Turner decides to protect Angie, and he brings her to his brother’s, Rudy’s House. Rudy scans Angie and finds a biochip in her head. The biochip has been put in her head by her father in order to enable her to access cyberspace directly. Then, Turner and Angie go to the Sprawl. On their way, sometimes Angie jacks in cyberspace through the biochip and talks different languages. Then, they go to Jammer’s club.
The other story concerns Marly Krushkhova, a disgraced former operator of a gallery in Paris. She is hired by Joseph Virek to find the inventor of the mysterious boxes. Joseph Virek is a wealthy man who lives in a vat and wants to attain immortality. Paco, who works for Virek, helps Marly during her mission. After Marly finds her ex-boyfriend, Alain dead in an apartment, she decides to escape from Virek. In her flight to Japan, she jacks in Tally Isham’s Sensorium and sees Virek. He addresses Marly directly and tells her that he knows her destination. After that, Marly hires a woman to take Marly to the address which she had found in Alain’s room. The address is the address of Tessier-Ashpool’s old place. She goes to the place and meets Wigan Ludgate and Jones. She tells them that she should find the artist of the boxes and let him know that he is in danger. On their way to see the artist, Joseph Virek appears on a screen and tells Marly that she had fulfilled her contract and he had found what he wanted.
The third story centers on Bobby Newmark, also known as Count Zero, who lives near Barrytown. When he jacks in cyberspace to run the software which he bought from Two-a-Day, something happens. Then, he goes to find Two-a-Day to know what happened. On the way, some people attack him in the street and he becomes unconscious. After a while, he finds himself conscious in Two-a-Day’s apartment. He tells Bobby that the voodoo gods have saved his life. Then, he gets acquainted with Jackie; a priestess of Danbala (a voodoo god), Beauvoir, and Lucas. Lucas takes Bobby to a place to meet Finn whose job is selling computer software and programs. Finn explains that he had purchased all his decks, peripherals, and software from Wigan Ludgate. Then, Bobby and Jackie go to Jammer’s Club.
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