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See Inside September 2011

Life in the Meta City

We walk a line between the anarchy of choice and Disney-fication, says the author of Neuromancer

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My first city was Conan Doyle’s London, in the company of Holmes and Watson. My mother gave me a two-volume omnibus edition when I was 10. London was a vast, cozy, populous mechanism, a com­forting clockwork. Foreigners and criminals served as spices, highlighting the assumed orderliness and safety of the Empire’s capital (assuming one were sufficiently comfortably placed in society, and in Doyle one tended to be).

I lived in rural southwestern Virginia, the nearest cities several hours away and those were smallish cities. Relatively little of what I saw on television conveyed much sense of urban reality, perhaps because it was still inherently difficult to film in large cities. Except for Los Angeles, and I saw a lot of that, and Los Angeles never did become much a part of my imagination’s map of cities.

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