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Author's Afterword (1992, CD-ROM ed?)
Ten years have now passed since the inception of whatever strange process it was that led me to write Neuromancer, Count Zero & Mona Lisa Overdrive. The technology through which you now access these words didn't exist, a decade ago.
Neuromancer was written on a "clockwork typewriter," ... a Hermes 2000 manual portable, dates from somewhere in the 1930's. It's a very tough & elegant piece of work, from the factory of E PAILLARD & Cie S.A. YVERDON (SUISSE)...weighs slightly < the Macintosh SE/30 I now write on
…keys are green, celluloid…the letters/symbols canary yellow. (I once brushed the SHIFTkey w/the tip of a lit cigarette, dramatically confirming the extreme 🔥of this early plastic.) In its day the Hermes 2000 was 1 of the best (& most $$) portable writing-machines in the 🌍
I used it first to write undergraduate English lit. papers, then my early attempts at short stories, then Neuromancer, all without so much as ever having touched an actual computer.
Some readers, evidently, find this odd. I don't.
Computers, in 1981 (when I began to work with the concept of cyberspace, the word having first seen light on my trusty Hermes) were mostly wall-sized monsters covered with twirling wheels of magnetic tape.
Around that time, however, the Apple IIc appeared. For me, it appeared on the miniature billboards affixed to bus-stop shelters…These Apple ads were the direct inspiration for the cyberspace decks in Neuromancer. Like the Hermes 2000, the IIc, in its day, was quite something.
…as it came time to begin Mona Lisa Overdrive, I went shopping for a computer. Bruce Sterling's father had given him his old Apple II, and Bruce allowed as how it was a pretty convenient way to put words in a row. Remembering those bus-stop ads, I bought myself an Apple IIc.
I bought a IIc in an end-of-line sale at a department store, took it home, and learned, to my considerable disappointment, that personal computers stored their data on little 💾, which were 🔄to the accompaniment of assorted coarse sounds.
I suppose I'd assumed the data was just sort of, well, ~held~. In a glittering mesh of silicon. Or something. But silently.
And that, quite literally, was the first time I ever touched a computer. And I still don't know very much about them.
The revealed truth of which, as I've said, sometimes perturbs my readers, or in any case those readers with a peculiarly intense computer-tech bent, of whom I seem to have more than a few.
But Neuromancer and its two sequels are not about computers.
Had I actually known a great deal (by 1981 standards) about real computing, I doubt very much I would (or could) have written Neuromancer.
It gives me great pleasure to have these 3 books digitized, data-compressed, & published in this (make no mistake) revolutionary format. We participate, you and I, in the death of print-as-we-knew-it, and should experience thereby an exquisite frisson of ecstasy and dread.
So soon, we plunge toward a world in which the word "library" simply means something on the other end of a modem.
But I confess it gives me greater pleasure still…whereby every tech, however sharp this morning, is invariably supplanted by the new, the unthinkable & to imagine these words, unread & finally inaccessible, gathering dust at the back of some drawer in some year far up the road.
Nothing in there but a tarnished Yale key, a silver dime, a couple of desiccated moths, and several hundred thousand data-compressed words, all in a row.
I know; I put them there.
late Terry Carr @AceRocBooks
Vancouver, 6/16/1992 [@GreatDismal]
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