The Many Paths of Cyberspace: William Gibson's The Sprawl as Prototype for Structural, Thematic, and Narrative Multilinearity in New Media
English and Modern Languages
Master of Arts (MA)
Cyberpunk, Hypertext, Marie-Laurie Ryan, Narratology, Science Fiction, William Gibson
English Language and Literature
Marsh, Erik, "The Many Paths of Cyberspace: William Gibson's The Sprawl as Prototype for Structural, Thematic, and Narrative Multilinearity in New Media" (2015). Masters Theses. 365.
William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy helped set a new direction for science fiction, but his work is also a valuable tool for examining changes in the approach both readers and writers began to take to approaching literature as the text medium began its rapid evolution with the introduction of electronic hypertext. In this examination of Gibson’s fiction, a pattern of multilinear truth emerges, showing how Western culture began to fully embrace Postmodern approaches to truth claims as a default, how even a pre-electronic text can exhibit hypertext-like aspects, and how this shift in interpretive response to literature is important for Christians to fully engage the culture. This thesis first establishes the historical background into which the cyberpunk genre appeared and Gibson started his literary career, with careful consideration for stylistic, aesthetic, and philosophical influences to Gibson’s fiction. The discussion then shifts to an analysis of the physical multilinear aspects of Gibson’s setting and characters, the multilinearity of existential subjects such as being and reality, and finally the discussion turns to a narratological examination of the structure of Gibson’s plot and storytelling elements. Upon examining these multilinear aspects, the hypertext-like nature of Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy makes his work a useful tool to examine the roots of the modern internet-age approach to text literature, and the truth-claims that text literature contains, and Christians who seek to understand how the current default approach has changed since the introduction of electronic texts can more easily understand why a traditionally effective strategy of ministry is less effective.