Greater Things: Hiro as Cyborg

Greg Halenda '08, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Spring 2005)

The cyborg union of man and machine allows accomplishments far greater than those either entity could reach on their own. A machine may make calculations at the speed of light, a man may be able to use critical thinking to save the world, but a cyborg can do both.

Hiro Protagonist of Snowcrash is a hacker. Not just any hacker, but the last of the free-lance hackers, those not enslaved to the large corporation socio-economic dominatrix beast. Hence, he is pretty darn good at manipulating life in the metaverse He is also the greatest swordfighter in the world, and a quick thinker to boot. So, Hiro is able to make great use of the powerful tools the Metaverse has to offer, and he is also resourceful in the real world.

Hiro's greatest moment comes when he diverts a near-catastrophe involving the brainwashing of hundreds of thousands of hackers in the Metaverse. He does this by both using his real-life sword-fighting and motorcycle-piloting skills, and by enlisting the aid of his computer and Metaverse uplink to defuse the computer-virus bomb. Hiro's computer itself couldn't have diverted the bomb, since it lacks independent thought processes, and Hiro couldn't have decoded the virus quickly enough on its own. The cyborg merger of Hiro and the Metaverse enabled him to save the day.

Has Hiro escaped domination by machines since his becoming a cyborg? Probably not, if he is anything like Case of Neuromancer, he would probably go insane if he withdrew from his life of technology. But, he definitely has shown how the merger has promoted both man and machine to the hyperreal together—making each greater than they would be individually.

Course Website cyborg Body & Self SnowCrash

Last modified 7 April 2005