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#1 Posted by MarkWahlberg (4713 posts) -

This will involve spoilers.

So I just finished reading William Gibson's Neuromancer. It's a pretty great book. For those of you who don't know (which I imagine is not many, because gamers), it's a sci-fi novel about futuristic hackers n' shit. Cool stuff, and it's seen as very influential in regards to a lot of the sci-fi that's been produced since. Very cyberpunk.


There's some shit in here, some very specific shit, that also appears in Christopher Nolan's recent film, Inception. Like, weirdly specific shit.

Let me explain.

The Device
The Device

Ok, to start off with, let's go with the easy connection: In Neuromancer, the main character, Case, is this hacker dude who uses a special device that he hooks himself up to, to project himself into a special visualization of virtual space, which allows him to break in and steal information from places. The device (or deck) was originally designed by the military, but now is used mostly for corporate espionage.

In Inception, the main character, Cobb, uses a special device that he hooks himself up to, which allows him to enter a visualization of another person's mind, allowing him to steal information. The device was originally designed by the military, but now is used mostly for corporate espionage.

Ok, there's similarities. But so far, it's not that big a deal, right?

Here's where it gets weird.

The Construct
The Construct

In Inception, towards the end of the heist, Cobb wakes up on a beach, sees a weird city thing in the distance. He meets an apparently alive version of his dead wife, whose death he feels guilty about. She wants him to stay and live with her. Getting out of the dreams involves a musical que they hear via the earbuds placed on their unconscious bodies.

Toward the end of Neuromancer, Case is participating in this grand heist mission whatever. There have been these two AI talking to him via his device with 'simstim constructs', representations of reality that aren't actually real. They use people's memories to generate the constructs.

Case has to jack himself in to check up on the hacking whatnot at one point, except when he does, he doesn't go to Tron world, he wakes up on a beach. There's a weird city-like thing off in the distance. A seemingly alive construct of his girlfriend is waiting for him. His girlfriend, who died at the beginning of the book and whose death Case feels somewhat responsible for.

The AI that created this place invites him to stay there, with his girlfriend. He eventually rejects it. He is able to leave the construct because one of the people working with him puts earbuds on him and plays music that he hears down in the construct, despite being unconscious in the Real World (also he OD's him with drugs, because he was brain dead, but that's beside the point).

So. Yeah.

I mean, I'm not saying Inception is suddenly shit because it 'ripped off' Neuromancer, or whatever. There's a lot going on in both stories besides this stuff, and overall I suppose similarities are inevitable because they're both heist movies. But to have those very specific things just seems really bizarre to me. Like, was Nolan doing an homage? Did he read that scene, and decide he wanted to make a whole movie out of that, since it's a very short part of the book and is somewhat unrelated to the rest of it? Nolan certainly changes enough for it be totally interesting in a different sort of way, beyond using La Vie en Rose instead of 'righteous Zion dub' for the music.

Honestly, though part of me is just surprised I had never heard anything about this similarity before. Maybe I was just talking to the wrong people, though. Had anyone of you noticed this? This is weird, right?

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#2 Posted by BisonHero (11576 posts) -

@markwahlberg: It's been quite a few years since I've read Neuromancer, so I actually forgot about a lot of the similarities you mentioned.

However, the one that I noticed while watching Inception was one you didn't mention. Inception's Eames (played by Tom Hardy) has basically the same abilities and overall mission purpose as Neuromancer's Peter Riviera. The characters are written quite differently, but they're both effectively "the one character that can alter their appearance within this simulated reality".

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#3 Posted by MarkWahlberg (4713 posts) -

@bisonhero: That's a good point, although Riviera does his stuff in the real world and is more about creating separate illusions than altering himself. But yeah, I see what you mean.

The scene where they meet him actually made me think of the Dr. Jekyll introduction scene in that horrible League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie. Although I suppose the Invisible Man fits into Riviera's role better. Team movies, everybody!

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#4 Posted by zenmastah (1223 posts) -

I knew there was a reason i liked Inception so much..

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#5 Edited by onlymountain (2 posts) -

Thought I'd resurrect this post as I'm pleasantly surprised to see someone else has noticed these things.

Let's not forget the climax of both stories takes place in low gravity, everyone floating everywhere. Or that this moment set in a dream-world Paris is pretty seriously akin to the way Gibson described Rue Jules Verne in the space resort Freeside.

No Caption Provided

And, maybe more vaguely, the goal of both stories is to prevent the merging of two dangerously large entities. Two corporations in Inception, and of course two AIs in Neuromancer.

It's pretty obvious that many of Gibsons ideas have been gradually but thoroughly cannibalized by popular cinema over time. The Matrix is a pretty clear example. That newest film Transcendence, with its notion of an uploaded human consciousness, is yet another more recent candidate for comparison. Maybe given the context it will need to compete within, it's for the best that the Neuromancer film may never be made?

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#6 Posted by TheHT (15839 posts) -

Pretty cool.

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#7 Edited by audioBusting (2558 posts) -

The merging of two contrasting sides, waking up on a beach (the ocean being a common metaphor for the subconscious mind), using a black box to venture into another world, a man saving his lover from the other world; many of these are pretty common story archetypes. I think Inception was just structured in such a way that could be easily recognized, in the same way Star Wars was inspired by the monomyth.

Edit: not that this isn't interesting to discuss, I just think that they aren't limited to these two stories.

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#8 Posted by Video_Game_King (36564 posts) -
  1. Inception is based on Neuromancer.
  2. Inception is based on an old Donald Duck comic.
  3. Therefore, Donald Duck is a Neuromancer.

Am I reading this right?

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#9 Edited by audioBusting (2558 posts) -
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#10 Posted by Corevi (6796 posts) -

If Inception is the closest we get to a live action Neuromancer movie, I would be okay with that.

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#11 Posted by Vuud (2052 posts) -
  1. Inception is based on Neuromancer.
  2. Inception is based on an old Donald Duck comic.
  3. Therefore, Donald Duck is a Neuromancer.

Am I reading this right?

You're close. Donald Duck is actually Wintermute.