In William Gibson's novel Neuromancer the word "sprawl" is often used, which is also reflected in the title "Sprawl Trilogy". My problem is that I am reading the German translation of the book, but the word "sprawl" is not translated. Even though I can understand its literal meaning, since I looked up its translations from dictionaries, I still can't make sense of it in the context of the book.

From its original meaning, "sprawl" appears to denote areas around a big city, areas in which the city has sprawled, i.e. spread out. Which further meanings and connotations does it imply in the Neuromancer trilogy, especially in the first part?

2 Answers 2


According to my very brief research, the term "The Sprawl" is used to denote the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis, a single 'sprawling' mega-city that encompasses most of the Eastern Seaboard.

In Neuromancer and other books by William Gibson, a mega-city stretching from Boston to Atlanta is known as the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis (BAMA) or The Sprawl.

  • Thank you! I think you gave the correct answer. Nonetheless, your map seems to be wrong. It includes Florida. This doesn't correspond to the map on the webpage you provided. Florida does not lie between Atlanta and Boston, does it? Just remove your map, so I can mark your answer as correct. Jul 26, 2015 at 8:24
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    ...the whole point of sprawl (vice "urban sprawl") is that it stretches and extends outward from the named points. It's completely reasonable that Florida would be within the sprawl range of BAMA.
    – gowenfawr
    Jul 26, 2015 at 14:08
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    @gowenfawr - I found the map on the internet without attribution. It doesn't seem to conform to other maps of the same type found elsewhere.
    – Valorum
    Jul 26, 2015 at 14:11
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    @Richard - since Mona's arc in Mona Lisa Overdrive begins in Florida, it might be interesting to re-read and see if the descriptions give weight either way. But your answer is good right now either way :)
    – gowenfawr
    Jul 26, 2015 at 14:15
  • @GerhardHagerer MegaCity One from Judge Dredd is shown in yellow, and includes Florida. The BAMA is shown in orange, and does not. EDIT: oops, didn't see the original map before making that comment.
    – Random832
    Jul 26, 2015 at 21:24

Home was BAMA, the Sprawl, the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis.

chapter "Three", Neuromancer by William Gibson

Your translation must be a bad one to not have this translated properly.

In the future depicted in William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy, there's one big city stretching from Boston to Atlanta. The official name for it is the Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis, or BAMA for short, but it's colloquially known as "the Sprawl", from the concept of "urban sprawl", the spreading out of cities.

  • Well, I just started chapter three. I can say that your quote is properly translated. I still was confused, since the meaning of "sprawl" generally does not relate to a certain place on earth. And as the word was used at the very beginning of the book without any explanation, I assumed it could mean something more general. I simply was not familiar with the word. Jul 26, 2015 at 9:48
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    I guess that's the downside to beginning all nouns with a capital -- there's no way to discriminate a regular noun from that same noun used as a name.
    – SQB
    Jul 26, 2015 at 9:51
  • Haha, yes, that's definitely a point I would say :-). Especially when Germans take English nouns and use them as such in German, they always start with a capital letter, even though they do not indicate names. Jul 26, 2015 at 9:55

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