Last year I finally read Neuromancer for the first time. It was for none other than I was going down my list of reading the top science fiction books of all time. After finishing it I can understand why this book is on that list. Shortly after reading it, it was announced that financing had been secured from Chinese investors. However the question remains: is it too late for a Neuromancer film? While it’s regarded as one of the most influential books in how we view the internet, coining phrases such as Cyberspace and Matrix (in fact without Neuromancer we wouldn’t even have the Matrix Films or games like Android Netrunner) and it came at a time when people didn’t even know what the internet was. It was a product of the eighties – Blade Runner before there was Blade Runner.
While people might say that it’s unfilmable, I point to Watchmen as the original case. People were saying Watchmen could not translate to film, and (despite the current feelings towards Synder at the moment) it’s one of the best comic films out to date. To the point, nothing is unfilmable with the right team and passion behind it, but that’s not what will keep Neuromancer from being successful. What most people will relate it to, and rightly so, is what happened to John Carter (of Mars). The film based on the 1910’s pulp science fiction stories and it bombed terribly in the cinema. What happened wasn’t John Carter’s fault, it was that directors like George Lucas and James Cameron grew up reading the adventures of John Carter, and borrowed the ideas of a hero no one had heard of. Look to the arena scenes in both films where it that looks like John Carter ripping off Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, when in fact the opposite is true. After bad word of mouth your box office plummets.
Neuromancer faces this same catch 22. With the success of films like The Matrix, Neuromancer by comparison will look like a secondhand rip off despite the fact it literally invented “jacking into the matrix” as a way of manipulating computer security. Now I would love a Neuromancer film. I want to see our main character Case navigate cyberspace battling wits with the AI Wintermute. What I don’t want to see is another Ender’s Game that’s a terrible translation of a beloved science fiction book brought to life. Truth is, it may just be too late for Nauromancer.