Burning Chrome Themes

Themes

Of course, radical body alterations cost a lot of money. Of the ten stories in Burning Chrome, many feature characters that could be considered to be trying to get ahead in an information-driven, class-divided society. In "Johnny Mnemonic" the mental courier Johnny finds himself out of a job when his broker (or fence, depending on your point of view) stores Yakuza stolen data in his head. In order to avoid being killed, Johnny forms an alliance with Molly Millions, a free-agent bodyguard, and Jones, a technologically enhanced dolphin addicted to junk. They hide from the Yakuza in Lo Tek territory: "The Lo Tek's leech their webs and huddling places to the city's fabric with thick gobs of epoxy and sleep above the abyss in mesh hammocks. Their country is so attenuated that in places it consists of little more than holds for hands and feet, sawed into geodesic struts." By drawing the Yakuza assassin into Lo Tek territory, Molly puts him at a disadvantage. Without any technology besides the weapon in his prosthetic fingertip to rely on, the single assassin is easily beaten.

The trio then goes into business together. As a courier, Johnny stores information on an "idiot/savant basis." Jones' navy implants are able to scan the traces of the programs (the Squids), however, and the three become blackmail entrepreneurs, extracting and selling all the data ever stored in Johnny's head. The story ends with Johnny adopting both high and low tech; at the end of the story he claims both that "my new teeth have almost grown in" (the Lo Teks all have "tooth bud transplants from Dobermans") and a few paragraphs later, "I'm getting to be the most technical boy in town." In this way, Gibson...

(The entire section is 693 words.)