The Sprawl Trilogy: Your Reading Order to William Gibson’s cyberpunk series

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The Sprawl Trilogy, also known as Neuromancer, Cyberspace, or Matrix trilogy is a set of books by William Gibson takin place in a near-future world dominated by corporations and ubiquitous technology, after a limited World War III.

Sprawl Trilogy Book Series in Order

The stories are all set in the same fictional future and are subtly interlinked by shared characters and themes.

The Short Stories

William Gibson wrote three short stories set in the same fictional future, with events and characters from the stories appearing in or mentioned at points in the trilogy. They can all be found in the collection Burning Chrome (1986):

– “Johnny Mnemonic” (1981)
– “Burning Chrome” (1982)
– “New Rose Hotel” (1984)

The Trilogy

You can read William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy out of order. Each novel tells a self-contained story.

Neuromancer (1984)
Count Zero (1986)
Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)

More about The Sprawl Trilogy

The Story of Neuromancer and the Sprawl Trilogy

One of the most well-known novels in the cyberpunk genre, Neuromancer is set in a near-future world dominated by corporations and omnipresent technology, as are the other books in the Sprawl Trilogy. The series delves at the unforeseen effects of technology and a future with direct mind-machine connections.

Neuromancer, centers on a certain protagonist named Case. He was the best data thief in the industry until his nervous system was wrecked by disgruntled former employees. However, a new and extremely mysterious employer has recruited him for a last-ditch run. The target: an unfathomably powerful artificial intelligence circling the Earth for the nefarious Tessier-Ashpool corporate clan…

What is The Sprawl?

The Sprawl is an urban landscape that stretches around most of the east coast of the United States.

Can I read the Sprawl Trilogy out of order?

The novels’ events take place over a period of 16 years, and while familiar people appear, each novel offers a separate tale. You don’t need to read them in order.

The inspiration behind the Cyberspace

Internet didn’t exist when Gibson wrote his book, and so the author said his inspiration for the cyberspace came from the arcades:

“I was walking down Granville Street, Vancouver’s version of “The Strip,” and I was looking into one of the video arcades. I could see in the physical intensity of their postures how rapt the kids inside were. It was like one of those closed systems out of a Pynchon novel: a feedback loop with photons coming off the screens into the kids’ eyes, neurons moving through their bodies, and electrons moving through the video game. These kids clearly believed in the space games projected. Everyone I know who works with computers seems to develop a belief that there’s some kind of actual space behind the screen, someplace you can’t see but you know is there.”

 —William Gibson, Conversations with William Gibson

Is there an adaptation of the Sprawl trilogy?

Before becoming Neo in The Matrix, Keanu Reeves portrayed Johnny Mnemonic in the 1995 cyberpunk film based on a short story of the same name. Despite the fact that the film was a flop and received generally poor reviews at the time, it has now garnered a cult following.

Abel Ferrara turned the short story New Rose Hotel into a feature film a few years later, starring Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, and Asia Argento. Once again, the film garnered poor reviews.

As for Neuromancer, there have been various efforts to adapt the novel, but none have proved successful. It could change soon, as Apple TV+ has stated that production on a television series would begin in the summer of 2023.

Keanu Reeves and Dina Meyer in Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

About William Gibson, author of Neuromancer

Born March 17, 1948, William Gibson is a science fiction author best known for being the Father of Cyberspace and one of the most influential writer of Cyberpunk. In the late 1970s, his early works were mostly noir, near-future fiction concerning the effects of cybernetics and cyberspace technologies on mankind.

He coined the word “cyberspace” in his 1982 short story “Burning Chrome,” but the concept was popularized in 1984 with his debut novel Neuromancer, which won several awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick awards.

Throughout his career, Gibson has authored over 20 short stories and 12 novels (one of which he co-wrote), published pieces in numerous major publications, and worked extensively with performance artists, filmmakers, and musicians.

What has William Gibson written beyond The Sprawl trilogy?

Beyond the renowned “Neuromancer” and the Sprawl Trilogy, William Gibson has written various significant works, including:

Virtual Light (1993), the first book in the Bridge Trilogy, set in a near-future world of urban decline and corporate power.
Pattern Recognition (2003), the first book in the Blue Ant series, centered on Cayce Pollard, a marketing expert with a unique ability to find patterns in brand logos.
The Peripheral (2014), part of the Jackpot trilogy, is a science fiction thriller with two interwoven timelines, one in a post-apocalyptic future and one in a near-future London.
The Difference Engine (1990) written with Bruce Sterling, a book that helped establish the genre conventions of steampunk, set in a world where Charles Babbage created and finished his Analytical Engine.