The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
“It’s not like I’m using,” Case heard someone say, as he shouldered his way through the crowd around the door of the Chat. “It’s like my body’s developed this massive drug deficiency.” It was a Sprawl voice and a Sprawl joke. The Chatsubo was a bar for professional expatriates; you could drink there for a week and never hear two words in Japanese.
Ratz was tending bar, his prosthetic arm jerking monotonously as he filled a tray of glasses with draft Kirin. He saw Case and smiled, his teeth a webwork of East European steel and brown decay.
It sounds good. It sounds like something that was written in the 1940s somehow. It really is kind of weirdly Chandleresque.
So what would you say now about that piece of writing and the man who wrote it?
I don’t know. You know. I’d buy him a drink but i don’t know if i’d loan him any money.
I think of Neuromancer in a good sense as an adolescent book. It’s a young man’s book. It was written as a young man’s book. It was written by a man who was not very young when he wrote it but was sufficiently immature. Still get back.
The bartender’s smile widened. His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it. The antique arm whined as he reached for another mug. It was a Russian military prosthesis, a seven-function force-feedback manipulator, cased in grubby pink plastic. “You are too much the artiste, Herr Case.” Ratz grunted; the sound served him as laughter. He scratched his overhang of white-shirted belly with the pink claw. “You are the artiste of the slightly funny deal.”
“Sure,” Case said, and sipped his beer. “Somebody’s gotta be funny around here. Sure the fuck isn’t you.”
The whore’s giggle went up an octave.
“Isn’t you either, sister. So you vanish, okay? Zone, he’s a close personal friend of mine.”
It’s a world with where there aren’t families. It’s the world of a young person going out into the wilderness of cities, and sort of in a way creating a family. It’s kind of like, it’s not like a goth book, but it’s kind out of the same stuff that makes kids be goths.
I think of Neuromancer as a rock n’roll book. It’s got everything. It’s got the sex. It’s got the drugs. It’s got a sense of alienation. In that sense it’s truly rock n’ roll.
As Case was picking up his beer, one of those strange instants of silence descended, as though a hundred unrelated conversations had simultaneously arrived at the same pause. Then the whore’s giggle rang out, tinged with certain hysteria.
Ratz grunted. “An angel has passed.”
“The Chinese,” bellowed a drunken Australian, “Chinese bloody invented nerve-splicing. Give me the mainland for a nerve job any day. Fix you right, mate…”
“Now that,” Case said to his glass, all his bitterness suddenly rising in him like bile, “that is so much bullshit.”