Splice Director Talks Neuromancer

Cyberpunk classic heading for screen

Splice director Vincenzo Natali (he also brought us the wonderful Cube back in 1997) has been talking about likely future projects to io9. He'd like a crack at Swamp Thing, although that's more something on a wish list than a concrete future plan. He's working on an adaption of JG Ballard's dystopian High Rise, which he describes as "High Rise 2.0" (with Ballard's novel serving as the backdrop to a new story). But the real geekgasm news is that he has an adaptation of William Gibson's seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer on the drawing board, with the blessing of the author.

"As soon as I finish my Splice tour, I'm going to start writing Neuromancer", says the Canadian director, describing the project as about "evolving our minds, where Splice is about evolving our bodies".

Published in 1984 (two years after Blade Runner, which, when he saw it, almost caused him to stop writing), William Gibson's Neuromancer was part of the vanguard of the Cyberpunk movement, which, in a nutshell, concerned itself with noirish plots about hackers, artificial intelligences, mega corporations and industrial dystopias. Surprisingly little of it has dated, and it was extraordinarily prescient about the rise of "cyberspace": a word actually coined by Gibson. Neuromancer forms part of loose trilogy with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive.

Gibson had an unfortunate Hollywood experience with Johnny Mnemonic in 1996, and in the intervening years The Matrix came along and played with a lot of his ideas. But Natali sees this as a blessing rather than a curse.

"It's a good thing for Neuromancer that those films exist," he insists. "Thanks to The Matrix, a lot of these ideas are now a part of the popular consciousness. So when you make the Neuromancer* *movie, in whenever it's going to be (2012, 2011) you don't have to explain a lot. It's already understood, and then you can get to the really good stuff. Which in my mind is about approaching the post-human world."

That post-human world is represented by characters like the technologically modified Molly, and by Dixie the Flatline, who exists as a human consciousness in cyberspace after his body died while his mind was online. Intended as dystopian ideas, Gibson called it "the lost irony" that readers thought characters like Molly were just ineffably cool. But there's no denying that there's every chance that, on film, Neuromancer will be very cool indeed.

It's early days yet, but we'll keep you posted. Splice is released in the UK on July 2.