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Technology in Burning Chrome by William Gibson


William Gibson’s story Burning Chrome depicts an advanced but soulless society where most technological advances are portrayed as distorted by commercialization and human mechanization rather than improving the quality of life. However, the main characters are depicted as completely dependent on technology. Technology is not only a global achievement but also a phenomenon that can break down the line between man and the real world.

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Bobby and Automatic Jack

Description Automatic Jack correlates with consumer consumerist and dehumanizing use of technology. The character lives in a futuristic world where human anatomy and customizable technology have become one, and software and hardware have become crucial to the people of this time. It is worth noting that Jack, the narrator, was injured, having his arm torn off by a laser during a micro-light flight (Gibson 500). The technology of the future gives him a nerve-operated cybernetic arm to replace it. Thus, even Jack’s normal life and functioning depend on technology. His existence is so closely intertwined with the virtual world that it is difficult to distinguish between reality.

It’s also important to mention partner Jack, who, throughout the story, tries to make a profit and sees absolutely nothing except making money from technology. As a computer genius, he professionally hacks into networks, which he shares with Automatic Jack for a profit. At the same time, considering that technology has completely overwhelmed society, Bobby fears that he will no longer be valuable. This can be understood from these lines: ‘But they also might’ve told you that Bobby was losing his edge, slowing down. He was twenty-eight, Bobby, and that’s old for a console cowboy’ (Gibson 498). Therefore, Bobby decides that he should apply his knowledge in order to make a lot of money and secure his future. It follows that the hero can no longer identify himself as a self-sufficient person without the benefit of technology. Thus, the impact of technology on this character is very strong, ‘He hadn’t shaved for a few days, and his face looked thinner than usual’ (Gibson 505). Accordingly, Bobby is willing to do anything to prove that he and his engineering knowledge are still needed in the criminal world.


Rikki is a heroine whose humanity and pronounced femininity closely intertwine with technology’s obsession. She shows no outright affection for any of the protagonists because her only sincere desire is sim stim. Rikki is sure that virtual reality is the only thing that can help her to gain popularity and acceptance and forget about the real world with its flaws and problems. The heroine thinks and dreams of only one thing: putting on the most fashionable prosthetic eyes and going off to seek happiness, trying to become a virtual star of the sim stim, for which she was willing to do anything. Even using illicit prosthetics from the black market does not seem to be anything wrong on the way to achieving her goals.

Fame and sim stim blind Ricky, warping her imagination and values.

At one point, the heroine even decides to earn her money for the operation by prostitution, though it looks different in the technological world. Trading the body changes to hooking up to a system that gives others access to the soul itself. Rikki spent hours plugged in while reality ceased to bother her, for it could not satisfy her desires. She gets her adrenaline from technology, which gets her high as a drug and speeds up her pulse by half. Rikki believes that ordinary life is nonsense and not worth wasting her time on because only virtual reality could transport someone to the place of a rich and famous person.

She makes absolutely everything for the coveted eyes and achieves what she aspires to. ‘Blue. Tally Isham blue. Clear trademark blue they’re famous for, ZEISS IKON ringing each iris in small capitals, letters suspended they look like flecks of gold (Gibson 505). Thus, she lost her individuality and became similar to other people whose mind and consciousness was taken over by technology. It is important that the author gives this a negative coloring.

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Through the pages of the story, one can trace how he points out that Chrome firing is a warning that as technology becomes more and more advanced. People must resist the desire and not allow it to conquer the aspects of their lives that make them human.


Thus, the analysis of the impact of technology on the characters suggests that they cannot imagine life without them. On the one hand, the story portrays the matrix, a virtual representation of the digital world, as an exciting miracle. Physically interacting with data, computer systems, and mainframes sounds like an amazing way to get into the system. However, spending so much time in the digital world can begin to feel the boundaries of reality blurring and losing touch with the real world. It is essential to take advantage of the world’s massive achievements and not lose personality by immersing in the global network.

Work Cited

Gibson, William. Burning Chrome. Hachette UK, 2017.

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