restricted access Discretionary Subjects: Decision and Participation in William Gibson’s Fiction

This comparison of protagonists in William Gibson’s “Johnny Mnemonic” and Pattern Recognition tests whether plot-driven fiction can produce only one type of literary subjectivity, or whether the subject can be successfully reimagined without abandoning the familiar narrative form. Contextualizing Gibson’s fiction with Alan Turing’s work on mathematical decidability, this essay explores the possibility of affecting radical change in understandings of identity while still appealing to a typical audience. Negotiating between the anti-sentimental modernist critique of personality and the democratic reach of conventional realism, Gibson’s work culls out a positive direction for thought about the potential of posthuman ethics.