40 Years Later, A Classic Cyberpunk Story Will Become The Next Big Apple TV Series

Neuromancer is finally getting the adaptation it deserves.

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In 1984, William Gibson’s debut novel Neuromancer invented a genre. While 1982’s Blade Runner is the flashpoint for how we think about cyberpunk on film, Neuromancer fully realized its sci-fi aesthetics for novels, games, and television. You’ll feel some retroactive Blade Runner vibes while reading Neuromancer, but Gibson began writing the book before its release and was even nervous to see the film in 1982 for fear it would mean he was “done for.”

Neuromancer and Gibson’s other cyberpunk books remain hugely influential, and as we grapple with the emergence of what practical AI is doing to our day-to-day lives, the story of “cowboy” hacker Case and his struggle against two sentient AIs — Wintermute and the eponymous Neuromancer — feels more relevant than ever. And now, it’s been confirmed that Apple is adapting Neuromancer into a new TV series. It’s happening! And if the rumors about a certain actor to star as Case, we could be looking at the best TV take on cyberpunk ever.

Apple’s Neuromancer series

The cyberpunk future is now.

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On February 28, the Hollywood Reporter confirmed what had been rumored for a while: Apple is adapting Gibson’s Neuromancer into a first season that will consist of ten episodes. Graham Roland and JD Dillard will oversee the series, which will be co-produced by Skydance Television and Anonymous Content. If this take on Neuromancer is good, it will further cement Apple’s dominance of high-quality sci-fi TV shows. And on top of that, could potentially give the world the cyberpunk TV series we deserve.

There are great cyberpunk movies. From Blade Runner to The Matrix, it’s difficult to pick which is the best. But are there any great live-action series? There are near-perfect animated cyberpunk shows, like Aeon Flux and Cowboy Bebop, but the live-action side has always fallen short.

From borderline laughable ‘90s shows like TekWar to muddled recent attempts like Altered Carbon, most live-action cyberpunk shows tend to favor vibes over substance. Their mash-up of retro high-tech and noir grittiness looks the part, but there’s not much going on. William Gibson’s 2014 novel, The Peripheral, was adapted as a 2022 series that charted a new path that felt much closer to dramatic realism. But it was more cyberpunk-adjacent — a kind of dark version of Ready Player One — and wasn’t renewed by Amazon for a second season.

Who is in the Neuromancer cast?

Will Robert Pattinson fight AI in Neuromancer?

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The official press release from Apple states: that the series will be about: a “damaged, top-rung super-hacker named Case who is thrust into a web of digital espionage and high stakes crime with his partner Molly, a razor-girl assassin with mirrored eyes, aiming to pull a heist on a corporate dynasty with untold secrets.” At this time, nobody has been confirmed to be cast as Case or Molly, whose name in the book is Molly Millions. Chronologically, Molly first appeared in the short story “Johnny Mnemonic” in 1981, which shares the same continuity with Neuromancer, as well as the novels Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive. (In the 1995 movie version of Johnny Mnemonic Molly was renamed “Jane” and played by sci-fi legend Dina Meyer.)

So, while Case and Molly have not been cast yet, as of this writing there are some big rumors. On February 19, the Sci-Fi Fantasy Gazette reported a rumor that Apple was circling Robert Pattinson to play Case in a Neuromancer series. That would contradict a 2022 QuietEarth rumor that suggested Miles Teller was up for the role.

If Robert Pattinson was cast as Case, the dearth of great cyberpunk live-action shows might finally be addressed. It would need to be updated for modern audiences —modems and payphones play large roles in the 1984 book — but those tech details are minor. What makes a possible adaptation so compelling is that the novel has all the elements a great cyberpunk story needs: an unforgettable aesthetic, a pulse-pounding plot, memorable characters, and an AI story told with nuance and intelligence.

When the Neuromancer show does materialize in the next few years, it could be the antidote to tired sci-fi tropes depicting murderous AI. It could also let Pattinson continue to be really weird. Both are admirable goals and we can’t wait.

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