A considerable amount of scholarship-perhaps too much-has been devoted to William Gibson’s first three novels, Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive, sometimes referred to as his Sprawl trilogy, since much of the action winds through BAMA, the Boston-Atlanta metroplex, also called The Sprawl. It is particularly Neuromancer that continues to attract critical interest, especially from academics who have no deep concern with SF; generally, they treat the novel as a kind of slipstream,1

with Gibson’s text more an instance of postmodernism or of cyberculture than of SF.2 I would put real money on the wager that Neuromancer is the singularly most discussed SF text since 1984, the year it was published. While the book has been indisputably important and influential, the almost exclusive critical focus on Neuromancer is a shame, and for several reasons. One results from my reluctance to festishize individual novels, especially given the very elaborate and remarkably nuanced intertextual relationship between Neuromancer and other works of literature, within and without SF. A second, more significant reason is that during the 1990s Gibson pub-

lished a second suite, usually called The Bridge trilogy (Leaver calls it “the Interstitial trilogy”), for the first and the last books center around a San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge, one now (because of economics and politics and natural disaster) abandoned by automobiles and transformed by squatters into a rich, alternative community, something John Clute has called “a Rube Goldberg banyan barrio” (Scores 243). (There is a bridge analog in the second book-a virtual community and proto-cyberspace called “Walled City.”) These three novels-Virtual Light (1993), Idoru (1996), and All

Tomorrow’s Parties (1999)—set in an undated3 near-future, constitute a remarkable series, certainly one as arresting as the Sprawl novels.4

Like Neuromancer, it operates according to “an intricate protocol” (Neuromancer 7), providing a concise reflection on the Sprawl books, on the nature of post-cyberpunk SF, and on hermeneutic practice. Similarly, Gibson’s 2003 Pattern Recognition extends and continues the model of the Bridge books, though this newer novel has appealed to many readers otherwise allergic to the narrative protocols and paratextual branding of SF. More triptychs than trilogies, these two series toggle back-and-forth in a

“binary flicker” (Idoru 216)—the central pattern we should recognize, and the hermeneutic that should be traced. This development culminates with Pattern Recognition, which while entirely separate from the Bridge series, etiolates that model, something Gibson himself repeatedly mentioned in interviews promoting Pattern Recognition: “In the three previous books, each was in their own little way an anti-Neuromancer” (Interview with Dorsey 11a). Or as Gibson told Locus: