Johnny Mnemonic


The novel "Johnny Mnemonic" was written by Terry Bisson.

Terry Bisson is the author of several novels, including "Voyage to the Red Planet" and "Fire on the Mountain".

His collection of short stories, "Bears Discover Fire" was a winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards in 1990.

Published :

It's a Voyager Book, published by HarperCollins in 1995. It was first published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers, in 1995.

Type of book:

It is a novel, told in a modern, simple language. "Johnny Mnemonic " is a masterpiece that moves faster than the speed thought and chilling in its implications. Cyberspace and virtual reality were invented in this book. It stands alongside 1984 and Brave New World as one of the twentieth century's most potent novels of the future.

"Case is the Marlowe of the mainframe age " - Vox

"Set for brainstun... one of the most unusual and involving narratives to be read in many an artificially blue moon" - The Times

"A mindbender of a read... fully realized in its technological and psychosexual dimensions " - Village Voice


It is about an adventure in Johnny Mnemonic's life. The setting of the story is located in the future of our planet. It is the story about a courier who has a lot upstairs - and all of it is about to blow. A 320 gigabyte data-storage is no easy job for Johnny who has only a chip embedded for half the amount of data. He smuggles information for a living, and he isn't particular where it comes from. But with his latest job, his lucrative memory bank has given way to a major headache. The information he is carrying is hot - stolen from a powerful company that wants it back in the worst possible way. Data-overload is about to crash him permanently. The download code is missing, his employers are dead, and there is nothing between him and an army of high-tech Yakuza thugs - nothing but his street-smarts and beautiful girl with a bad attitude and a hardwired taste for mayhem.

The most important persons:

Johnny Mnemonic: He is a carrier with a chip implanted in his head. There he can store top secret informations without anyone knowing about them. In this job he earns a lot of money but he also has a lot of enemies who want to get the information or at least destroy it. He is reliable and very good in reacting the right way in difficult situations and he is the best

Jane: A NAS victim who has good connections to the Lotecs. She, a beautiful girl, falls in love with Johnny and vise versa. Her reflexes were faster than her vision. This is made with an electronic implant in her muscels. It comes in handy very often when someone tries to kill her.

Takahashi: He is the head of the Yakuza gang. He had a daughter named Mikiyo. She died on NAS already after her 6thbirthday. She is the only person in his life, for whom he had had feelings.

Shinji: He is something like the personal bodyguard or a useful killing machine for Takahashi. A member of the Yakuza's.

The Lotecs: They are video guerrillias, who have the uncanny capacity to break into any programming, network or cable, satellite or fiber-optic to publish their anti-establishement message. They help Johnny to release the information from his brain onto Internet.

J-Bone: The head of the Lotecs. He became a friend of Johnny. He wants peace, freedom and heaven forever. He is quite confident that some day everything will turn be good. But he believes that till then mankind has to improve a lot of things.

Ralfi: The man who gives Johnny the names and addresses of his next client. He is a friend of Johnny.

Yakuza: They were professionals, operatives for the world's largest, most whispered about, most feared and most profitable criminal organisation. The Coca-Cola of crime.

Plot synopsis:

It is a novel, told in a modern, simple language. "Johnny Mnemonic " is a masterpiece that moves faster than the speed thought and chilling in its implications. Cyberspace and virtual reality were invented in this book. It is a novel of the future life on earth. The technological and psychosexual dimensions are fully realized in this novel.

It is about a information carrier named Johnny Mnemonic. He has a matrix implanted into his head, and this electronic device enables him to use the neuronal synapses of his brain as a memory chip for the secret information he carries. He gets a lot of money for doing such a dangerous job. But it is very risky too. The people for whom the carried information is secret, want to get it and do not mind killing lives.

In this book one of those transports for a pharmaceutical industry is described.

The action of the book plays many settings. The action is strictly chronological with short flashbacks to certain childhood experiences. The novel is gradually built up. The language is a little bit futuristic and more colloquial. There are used some Spanish words to make it more like real life is.

It starts with an open beginning, where two scientists of a huge pharmaceutical industry give Johnny some data he should bring to another scientist in another country. A little later, after the two got murdered by a Yakuza, it turns out that the data Johnny carries now in his head, was stolen, and that it is very valuable. It is the cure for a new disease that occured since everybody has too many electronic devices and though deadly rays around themselves. It is called NAS ( Nerve Attenuation Syndrome ) and is a terminal illness that unfortunately leads to death. The amount of data Johnny has to transport is much more than his memory capacity. Now Johnny has two dangerous problems. First the Yakuza hunting him to destroy the information and the second is his own brain that can only resist two to three days to the flood of information. So he has to get rid of it as fast as possible or his brain will explode.

Hunted by Yakuza's Johnny makes new friends like Jane, a girl suffering from NAS. She guides him to those people, the Lotecs who are able to crack the code in Johnny's brain that prevents the information of getting into the wrong hands and they, the Lotecs, have also the possibility to transfer the valuable information stored in Johnny's brain, the healing for NAS, into the global information highway. So NAS would not be a problem any more.

The scientists who gave Johnny the data were two dropouts who stole the healing from their pharmaceutical company. The industry wanted to get profit from this treatement, in selling it in parts for extremely unaffordable high prices.

But in completing his mission Johnny thwarts the Yakuza's plans and those of the pharmaceutical company.

The novel ends in a "hooray" when the cure is transferred onto Internet. There it is available for everyone.

Ideas, opinions and comments:

In this book Terry Bisson gives a possible idea of future life on Earth. I think that the ideas described in this book, are on mankind's way of developement. Virtual reality is already existent. A primitive form of cyberspace too, and transport of data through a human is in developement. Some scientists try similar versions like in this novel, others use only the same principles but try to encode information into a DNA-corde before injecting it into a carrier such as a mouse or human being.

It sounds a little bit dangerous if those powers get in the wrong hands. To control these powers will be a new problem in the future.

I think this book gives some food for thoughts about these problems. I think everybody, old and young people, should read this book and start to think of the future. Our future.

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