In 1990, a cyberpunk-themed band called the Information Society released a song called "Mirrorshades," which most interpret as an obvious shout-out to William Gibson's character Molly. No names are given in the song's lyrics, but it describes a mysterious, dangerous, and badass woman who "wore mirrorshades," and drops a few hints that point to the work of William Gibson, such as "punching deck" and "jacking in."
You can hear the song here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WVE47…
For a long time, I assumed the singer was supposed to be Case, remembering the mysterious razor girl who he'd never see again. But another interpretation has been bouncing around my mind lately. This song makes much more sense, in my opinion, if you imagine that it's about William Gibson, reflecting on how he "met" his character and wrote his first novel. Having read and listened to multiple interviews with the author, I think it's plausible.
Here are a few notes from the underground.
Load them at your pleasure.
These are the dusty pictures that I found
While on my search for treasure.
William Gibson says he wrote “Neuromancer” in “a blind animal panic.” At the time, he was in the business of writing short stories for sci-fi magazines, many of which you can read in the collection “Burning Chrome.” Then his boss asked him to write a novel, which Gibson had never done before. From how Gibson describes it in interviews, it sounds like he basically scrambled to put something together, digging out elements from his previous stories. “I had Molly in ‘Johnny Mneumonic.' I had an environment in 'Burning Chrome'...”
So the song lyrics about “dusty pictures that I found while on my search for treasure” might be a metaphor for how Gibson went searching for gold as it were, and wound up re-discovering elements he liked from his older stories, as well as his real-life experiences. (The wasp nest scene from “Neuromancer” is an example of a real memory Gibson put into his book).
All of these things are addressed in this interview project.cyberpunk.ru/idb/gibso… and some of them are discussed in multiple other interviews.
On a side note, the "dusty photos" are also, most likely, a "Blade Runner" reference.
Here is the hazy vision that I saw
Gibson describes his world and characters as “hazy,” or something to that effect. He did not fully create an entire world like J.R.R. Tolkien did for “Lord of the Rings.” Gibson was always more about atmosphere. He threw in enough details to hint at a past for his world and characters, but didn’t actually have one planned out. For example, “the war” that so many characters in the Sprawl series mention? Gibson has no clue when that “war” was fought or why.
She said don't be making no provocation
Unless you're ready to handle the nation
I'm cold and I'm bold and I don't do what I'm told.
I heard “don’t be making no provocation” as “don’t be making the publication,” which is what initially lead me to think this was about Gibson writing “Neuromancer.” I’m extremely disappointed to learn that most of my favorite lines from this song I misheard. But in any case, it still works. This passage can be taken as a metaphor for the dangers of writing a book. “Don’t be making no provocation until you’re ready to handle the nation” seems like a warning about putting your work out there for all to see, when you’re not sure you’re ready to write a decent book (as Gibson surely wasn’t, in his “blind animal panic). As for the last line, I know from experience that when you write a story, your imagination will often get loose and “not do as it’s told,” making for some difficulties with things like story length or keeping the plotline under control.
She wore mirrorshades.
And i can't explain the thing about her mirrorshades.
But i know that i can't live without her mirrorshades.
And i kind of lose my mind about her mirrorshades.
And the strange attractors that surround her.
Remember as you bust north at her call,
That you can never doubt it.
No matter what you cannot have it all,
'cause she leaves home without it.
Seems to be describing how an author’s characters can “speak” to them (hopefully not literally), and how they can get attached to certain characters, being compelled to keep on writing them. And of course no character or story will ever be perfect, hence “you cannot have it all.”
But in the darkness where we both were caught,
In the heartbeat of el nido
Not sure about this one.
I initially heard this line as “in the heartbeat of El Nino” (“el nino” being the Latin American “rainy season”), and I assumed it was about how Gibson was in an emotionally dark spot when beginning his writing career (having lost both parents), and how he gave his characters like Molly dark pasts, so they had some common ground.
However, the internet says that the lyrics are “El Nido,” not “El Nino.” “El Nido,” according to the Internet, is Spanish slang for a woman’s vagina. So it seems instead that this passage is about the sex scene between her and Case. In fact, it’s possible the entire song is about Molly and Case, not Molly and William Gibson. But I’m sticking with the Gibson theory.
She said "now you're here, you've got to show and prove,
And do that dance until it don't move.
Pretty obviously about a now-published author who has to keep up the good work, as he’s in the spotlight now.
The phone doesn’t work so you won’t be calling home.”
Gibson’s parents were both dead when he was writing “Neuromancer.”
She was so absolutely digital,
To jack in now was wrong.
But cupid punches deck with chemicals
While dark madonna sings her song.
I’d been hearing that last one as “While Dark Madonna scissors on,” which was so perfect for Molly. Was extremely disappointed to learn the real lyrics. Just felt like sharing that.
As for punching deck with “chemicals,” this seems to suggest that the singer is writing his book while intoxicated by something… But if it’s Gibson writing “Neuromancer,” this “chemical” may just be adrenaline.
Obviously no one knows what William Gibson was really thinking or feeling when writing "Neuromancer" except William Gibson. But it seems pretty damn plausible to me that this song is meant to be about a cyberpunk author describing a razor-girl character who formed in his mind one day on a whim, refused to leave, and took off in directions he never predicted.