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"Tokyo homeless people reiterate the whole nature of living in Tokyo in cardboard boxes, they're only slightly smaller than Tokyo apartments, and they have almost as many consumer goods. It's a nightmare of boxes within boxes."
- William Gibson

Selected Melanin Boosting  
  The only way to get a designer tan.  

Every image in Neuromancer is finely crafted. The lifestyles of the characters are very carefully differentiated using commercial products or services.

The characters with the great tans are affluent young people for whom money is no object; they are surrounded by companies and individuals who cater to their needs.

The trees were small, gnarled, impossibly old, the result of genetic engineering and chemical manipulation. A burst of French from a nearby table caught his attention: the golden children he'd seen gliding above river mist the evening before. Now he saw that their tans were uneven, a stencil effect produced by selective melanin boosting, multiple shades overlapping in rectilinear patters, outlining and highlighting musculature; the girl's small hard breasts, one boy's wrist resting on the white enamel of the table. They looked to Case like machines built for racing; they deserved decals for their hairdressers, the designers of their white cotton ducks, for the artisans who'd crafted their leather sandals and simple jewelry.
From Neuromancer, by William Gibson.
Published by Phantasia Press in 1984
Additional resources -

At present, there is no service that offers to actually alter the pigment in your skin (melanin) in artistic patterns. However, there are tanning oils that can be airbrushed onto the skin in any pattern desired; this is very close to what Gibson had in mind in the novel.

In the novel, the protagonist Case uses products like his computer for hacking. He also makes use of services offered by black clinics to try to repair the neurological damage done to his nervous system (in retribution for a scam that Case ran against a previous client). Each character in the book is marked by unique products and services.

Gibson has done a find job predicting the future of our service-oriented economy.

Compare to skin toning from Jack Vance's 1964 novel The Star King.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Neuromancer
  More Ideas and Technology by William Gibson
  Tech news articles related to Neuromancer
  Tech news articles related to works by William Gibson

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