Molly comments about giving Mitchell some time for herself, but you can see how Bobby and the others come and go in the Matrix.
So it is just some time to let her come to terms with her new life as an AI. Unlike Bobby, she was not ready for her physical death, so instead of experiencing the whole of the matrix at once, she remains in a small, controlled setting, 3Jane domain. The ending has her finally coming out of "the house" (the Aleph) to really check the rest of the Matrix, and the Other.
While checking Mona Lisa online I stumbled upon WGs afterword for the first electronic edition, and I think it is worth posting it here, where only a few (the select few, I would like to add) will see it.
Ten years have now passed since the inception of whatever strange process it was
that led me to write Neuromancer , Count Zero , and 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," the very one you may
recall glimpsing in Julie Deane's office in Chiba City. This machine, a Hermes
2000 manual portable, dates from somewhere in the 1930's. It's a very tough and
elegant piece of work, from the factory of E. PAILLARD & Cie S.A. YVERDON
(SUISSE). Cased, it weighs slightly less than the Macintosh SE/30 I now write
on, and is finished in a curious green- and-black "crackle" paint-job, perhaps
meant to suggest the covers of an accountant's ledger. Its keys are green as
well, of celluloid, and the letters and symbols on them are canary yellow. (I
once happened to brush the shift-key with the tip of a lit cigarette,
dramatically confirming the extreme flammability of this early plastic.) In its
day, the Hermes 2000 was one of the best portable writing- machines in the
world, and one of the most expensive. This one belonged to my wife's step-
grandfather, who had been a journalist of sorts and had used it to compose
laudatory essays on the poetry of Robert Burns. I used it first to write
undergraduate Eng. 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. I'd once glimpsed one through a window at the
university. Friends who did things with computers tended to do them at very odd
hours, having arranged to scam time on some large institution's mainframe.
Around that time, however, the Apple IIc appeared. For me, it appeared on
the miniature billboards affixed to bus- stop shelters. This seductive little
unit , looking not that much bigger, really, than your present day Powerbook,
was depicted dangling from a handle in the hand of some unseen suit with a
nicely-laundered cuff. Portability! Amazing! a whole computer in a package that
size! (I didn't know that you had to lug the monitor around as well, plus a
bulky little transformer and another disk- drive that weighed nearly as much as
the computer itself.) 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.
Not that I ever experienced it in its day, not quite. My Hermes died.
Some tiny pawl or widget caved in to metal-fatigue. No replacement could be
found. I'd just started Count Zero . I gave the typewriter man $75 for a
reconditioned Royal desk machine, a hideous truck-like lump of a thing with an
extended carriage that alone weighed twenty pounds. It had an extended carriage,
he said, because it had belonged to a little old lady who'd only ever used it to
type mimeograph stencils for Sunday- school programs. (Though I suspect many of
you may not know what "mimeograph stencils" were.)
I stuck with this ghastly clunker through Count Zero , but 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. This was around 1986 or so, and the IIc had long-since been
eclipsed by various proto-Macs, which everyone assured me were wonderful, but
which I regarded as prohibitively expensive. 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 circular
bits of electromagnetic tape, which were whirled around 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. They may
pretend, at times, and often rather badly, to be about computers, but really
they're about technology in some broader sense. Personally, I suspect they're
actually about Industrial Culture; about what we do with machines, what machines
do with us, and how wholly unconscious (and usually unlegislated) this process
has been, is, and will be. Had I actually known a great deal (by 1981 standards)
about real computing, I doubt very much I would (or could) have written
Neuromancer . Perhaps it all goes to prove that there are situations (literary
ones, at least) in which a little knowledge is not only a dangerous thing, but
the best tool for the job at hand.
A mimeograph stencil, by the way, is a piece of tissue- paper impregnated
with wax. You punch through the wax with a typewriter, creating a stencil
through which ink can be forced onto paper, allowing the reproduction of
multiple copies. For many years, and not so long ago, these curious devices were
very nearly as common as typewriters. They were what people did before laser
printers. The mimeograph is one of many dinosaurs recently brought to the verge
of extinction by the computer. They are dead tech , destined to make up part of
the litter engulfing the Finn's back room. As is my Hermes 2000. As is my Apple
IIc, which my children play with only reluctantly, its black-and-white graphics
no competition for their video-games. As is my old SE/30 here; as is,
eventually, whatever sort of unit, however slick and contemporary, you happen to
be reading this on.
It gives me great pleasure to have these three books digitized, data-
compressed, and 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, to contemplate that
process whereby every tech, however sharp this morning, is invariably supplanted
by the new, the unthinkable, and to imagine these words, unread and 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
I know; I put them there.
I'd like to take this opportunity to cite and thank the late Terry Carr, who
commissioned the work that became Neuromancer from an unknown and thoroughly
unconfident writer, one whose track-record at the time consisted of a handful of
short stories. If Terry hadn't been willing to take a chance with me, when he
did, thereby forcing me to write something (a novel) I felt several working
years short of being ready to do, it's most unlikely that these books would
-- Vancouver, 6/16/92