100 sci fi women #41: Molly Millions

I had been meaning to write this entry for ages and ages, but when William Gibson started talking about her on Twitter, I knew the time had come. As this isn’t an order of merit at any rate, this is as perfect timing as any other.

Molly Millions  Neuromancer and Johnny Mnemonic (book version) William Gibson

The thing that most distinctly stayed with my about Molly from reading Neuromancer nearly 20 years ago was the fingernails. The razor sharp, deadly fingernails. I think, therefore, the thing that was my greatest disappointment about the film version of Johnny Mnemonic was that she did appear, and was replaced by Jane who didn’t have the deadly fingernails.

Two tweets from Gibson on Molly that really caught my eye:

My idea of Molly is that salient first impression is “deadly”, not “hot”. Later: “Hmm. Deadly, but…hot?”


In 1984, amazingly, idea of protagonist’s female buddy kicking more and deadlier ass was considered radical and outre.

And so it is with Molly. She is the powerful and deadly one. With mirrored sight-enhancing glasses sealed into her skin, keeping her real eyes from sight, razor sharp retractable blades in her fingernails and enhanced reflexes and speed, Molly is formidable and dangerous, and for many of us reading in the 1980s or early 1990s, the first time we had encountered a woman who was primarily a weapon. But not an unthinking one, not an undamaged one. Her knowledge and intelligence adds to her deadliness. Molly earned the money for the modifications to make herself the weapon she became by being a “meat puppet”, a prostitute whose mind was blanked. What adds to Molly’s complexity is that she lives with the fact that she knew that her early modifications were being used for very particular kinds of clients but did nothing as she still need ed the money – until she came out of the blank state mid service, covered in blood with a dead body beside her – and alive one who didn’t remain so for long. Molly’s hardness comes from the fact that she was a killer before she knew she was, that things became more out-of-control in her life before she gained the control she was buying through her body enhancements. For Molly, control is important, and control is what she achieves. Mostly.

Because if you try to fuck around with me, you’ll be taking one of the stupidest chances of your whole life.