- Johnny Mnemonic
Infobox short story |
name = Johnny Mnemonic
language = English
publisher = Omni
The Gernsback Continuum"Johnny Mnemonic" is a short storyby William Gibson, and the inspiration behind the film of the same name. The short story first appeared in "Omni" magazine in 1981, and was subsequently included in 1986's " Burning Chrome", a collection of Gibson's short fiction. It takes place in the world of Gibson's cyberpunknovels, predating them by some years, and introduces the character Molly, who plays a prominent role in Gibson's Sprawl trilogyof novels.
The film plot differs considerably from the short story, and a novelization of William Gibson's screenplay written by
Terry Bissonwas published in 1995 under the title of "Johnny Mnemonic". [cite web |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113481/literature |title=Johnny Mnemonic (1995) - Literature |accessdate=2007-11-10 |format= |work=] In 1996 a film tie-in edition of Gibson's original short story was published as a standalone book. [cite web|url=http://www.amazon.co.uk/Johnny-Mnemonic-William-Gibson/dp/000224618X/ref=sr_1_2/202-2835035-3566234?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1194424161&sr=1-2 |title=Amazon.co.uk: Johnny Mnemonic: Books: William Gibson |accessdate=2007-11-10 |format= |work=]
"Johnny Mnemonic" is a data trafficker who has undergone cybernetic surgery to have a data storage system implanted in his head. The system allows him to store digital data too sensitive to risk transmission on computer networks. To keep the cargo secure, the data is locked by a
passwordknown only to the intended recipient. Johnny enters a trance-like state while the data is being transferred or the passwords are being exchanged, making him unaware of the contents and unable to retrieve it. He makes a modest living in the Sprawlby physically transporting sensitive information for corporations, underworld crime rings or wealthy individuals.
As the story opens Johnny is attempting to meet with his last customer, Ralfi Face. Ralfi has stashed hundreds of megabytes of data in Johnny, and is overdue paying for the storage. To add to his troubles, Johnny learns that Ralfi has placed a contract on him, although the reasons are unclear. Johnny finds Ralfi in his favorite table at a local bar, and in spite of being armed with a sawed-off shotgun, Johnny is incapacitated when he sits down by a device hidden under the table. Ralfi reveals that the data was, unknown to him at the time, stolen from the
Yakuza, who are very interested in ensuring it is not revealed.
Johnny is rescued by Molly, a "Razorgirl" who has undergone extensive body modifications, most notably fingernail blades. She sees the action at the table, and looking for a job, deactivates the incapacitating device. As soon as he is able to talk again, Johnny hires her as a bodyguard. Johnny, Ralfi and Molly exit the bar together, where Ralfi is immediately killed by a Yakuza
contract killer, who dismembers Ralfi with a single-molecule wire sharper than any knife. Molly is excited to be up against a pro.
Johnny decides that the only way to save himself from the same fate is to get the data out of his head. When Johnny tells Molly the only way to retrieve the password is with a
SQUID, she leads him to an amusement park to visit Jones, a retired navy dolphin. Jones' previous job was to locate and then hack enemy mines using sensors implanted in his skull, including a SQUID. To keep them loyal, the Navy addicted all of their "war whales" to heroin, so Molly trades Jones some heroin in exchange for retrieving the password. Armed with the password, Johnny has Molly read it to him in order to enter the retrieval trance, recording everything that is returned. After downloading the data, Johnny uploads a snippet to a Yakuza communications satellite, with the implication that the rest will be released if he is not left alone.
This leaves the more immediate threat of the Yakuza killer, who is unaware of the threat to release the data. Molly takes Johnny to the "Lo Teks", anti-
technologymisfits who live in a suspended hideout high in the geodesic domescovering the Sprawl. Communicating via taut wires strung between the platforms, the Lo Teks are instructed to allow the killer to ascend the hideout to meet Molly on "The Killing Floor". Here, on a sprung floor that is wired to synthesizers and amplifiers, she dances around his killing wire until it cuts off his own hand and then falls from the platform.
At the end of the story Johnny and Molly intend to make a living for themselves by retrieving the faint traces of all the previously stored data in Johnny, and
blackmailhis former customers with it, while living with the anti-tech gang. The Sprawl setting and Molly later appear in " Neuromancer", where it is revealed the Yakuza eventually caught up with Johnny and killed him.
*cite book |author=Gibson, William Carleton |title=JOHNNY MNEMONIC |publisher=Harper Collins |location=Toronto |year=1996 |pages= |isbn=0-00-224618-X |oclc= |doi=
*cite book |author=Bisson, Terry |title=Johnny Mnemonic |publisher=Pocket |location=New York |year=1995 |pages= |isbn=0-671-52300-7 |oclc= |doi=
* [http://www.antonraubenweiss.com/gibson/ The William Gibson aleph]
* [http://project.cyberpunk.ru/lib/johnny_mnemonic/ The story] hosted by The Cyberpunk Project.
* [http://bestsciencefictionstories.com/2008/05/05/johnny-mnemonic-by-william-gibson/ Johnny Mnemonic at BestScienceFictionStories.com] - A review of the short story.
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