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I, Neuromancer

When I read books, I constantly visualize and create images in my mind for what is going on. And then, almost unconsciously, I begin to connect these images to movies and books I’ve already read. Now, reading the complex Neuromancer made it difficult for me to accomplish my usual connections, but then, it clicked as I began reading Software. Neuromancer and Software are eerily close to some of the plot and characters of I, Robot by Isaac Asimov and the movie of the same name. In class, it was mentioned how similar these two were, so I went back and reviewed the plot and what did I discover: numerous plot and character similarities.

For those not familiar with I, Robot, it’s a futuristic science fiction short story about the society of 2035 where robots are common household and workplace objects. These robots are dictated by three laws written by Asimov that require them to put humans safety above their own and obey all their orders. Beyond these common plot points come the interesting connections to Neuromancer and Software.

Like in Neuromancer, one of the main concerns of the characters, one of the main antagonists (though I’ll try not to give away the ending) is an artificial intelligence, VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), in the image shown. VIKI is an AI created by one of the domininant companies of the day, U.S. Robotics. This almost directly mimics Tessiar-Ashpool’s creation of Wintermute and Neuromancer in the novel. Both VIKI and the AIs of Neuromancer grow past their human restraints and begin thinking for themselves, creating the main drive of the plot. Furthermore, similar to Neuromancer, the protagonist, protrayed by Will Smith, is guided through his journey by his friend Alfred Lanning, who though recently deceased, becomes a hologram that provides clues. Compare this to Case being guided by the Dixie Flatline. Gibson and Asimov must have shared notes, right?

Software is where the similarities to I, Robot really started to expand for me. Three Laws of Robotics? Both of them have them, Software even giving credit to Asimov. Robots with intelligence beyond a machine, almost human like? I, Robot has them too in the form of the robot Sunny who experiences feelings, emotions, and dreams. Replacement of body parts? Both books contain protagonists with unnatural parts. Even at the most rudimentary level of plot, there still remains a mirroring. I, Robot ‘s world is a world where robots are being made slaves, but as the movie closes, and the plot resolves, a rebellion begins. In Software, this rebellion has already happened at the hands of Ralph Numbers, who helps the robots defeat who’s laws? Oh, right, Asimov’s.

Needless to say, these science fiction writers really must look over each others shoulders. But, maybe they’re just trying to make the complex world of futuristic science more accessible to readers, who like myself, require visualization and imagery. Or, maybe these Cyberpunk novels of the future (1982, 1984) are just trying to find some roots in the past of hard science fiction from thirty years before.

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  1. February 3, 2011 at 11:40 am

    I was a struck that both your images focused on representations of faces (and creepy ones at that). Made me remember this creepy face: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLiX5d3rC6o

  2. February 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Wow, i didn’t see the connection before but you’re right. the movie I, Robot (even though it was decent at best) takes a lot of the same ideas from the cyberpunk novels we have read thus far. Just goes to show that there is only so many story lines you can make that revolve around robots…

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