Johnny Mnemonic lives in a world ruled by multinational corporations which employ yakuza thugs as body guards. Hackers, data-pirates, Lotek rebels can bypass the restrictions imposed on the proliferation of data.
A new plague called NAS, or Nerve Attenuation Syndrome, fatal, incurable, has gripped mankind. In this stark vision of the future information is the ultimate commodity, more precious than gold.
Elite private agents, wetwired to function as human data banks, are employed to transport data in their heads - Mnemonic Couriers. Johnny is one of those couriers.
He has a silicon storage implanted in his brain and can carry up to 160Gb. He had to give up his childhood memories to make room for data.
He became a man without a past, without a life. When a girl who he just spent the night with asks him: "Where is home, Johnny?", after thinking a few seconds he answers: "Home? Would you believe I don't even know?"
What he knows is that he wants his implant removed and all of his memories back. But to get the money for the operation he must do one last job.
He doubles his memory capacity from 80Gb to 160Gb, but as it turns out the package is even bigger than that.
Suddenly everybody seems to be after him. Pharmakom Industries, an all-powerful corporation, puts a bounty on his head, literally.
They just want his head, never mind the rest of him. Now it is a round-o'clock struggle to keep it on his shoulders.
He seems detached from people and the world around him. His interpersonal relations are scant and business-like.
People are nothing but assets for him, means of obtaining his goals, or obstacles strewn in his way.
Even his movements look stiff, stilted or overly emphatic. He is more at ease in the virtual world of the internet, when he breaks codes.
He does not care much about the fate of the world. The impression we get of him is of a rather shallow and selfish man.
Furthermore, he is street-savvy and can take care of himself. He has fighting skills, knows weaponry and has any old motion detector, or small bomb up his sleeve.
If necessary, he can disguise with an expert's touch. He knows how to throw a punch, kick a man's foot out from under him and he can strip a gun in a heartbeat, then use it with confidence in another.
His motto is: "No complications!"
Johnny Mnemonic is a man of simple pleasures. As he puts it: "I want room service! I want a club sandwich and cold Mexican beer. I want a $10,000-a-night hooker! I want my shirts laundered like they do at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo."
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