“And down now, down…”: the Wildernesses of “Burning Chrome” and Inception

Casey Smedberg

Abstract


The portrayal of cyberspace in William Gibson’s 1982 short story “Burning Chrome” reflects the American Gothic conception of the wilderness as both a space of nightmare and wonder. However, unlike the traditional American frontier wilderness, Gibson’s cyberspace is itself an extension of man, and functions as a connecting space that allows the personal wildernesses of the space’s creators to infiltrate both the shared technological space and those other individuals connected to it. This generates within the text a fear that mankind’s ready acceptance of this cyberspace technology is potentially dangerous. Christopher Nolan’s Gibson-indebted 2010 film Inception further explores these anxieties, and assumes that this infiltration is a given for anyone participating in a technologically-driven shared space. By exploring the disorientation that this participation can cause, the film expresses concern that society itself has become disoriented and lost within a technological wilderness of mankind’s own making.


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