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Summary

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

William Gibson divides Neuromancer into three parts, plus an epilogue. The first takes place in Chiba City, a Japanese industrial town where Case is a street hustler. The second part occurs in New York and Istanbul, and the third takes place on two space stations in orbit around the earth. All the events take place within a few months in the late twenty-first century. Gibson uses an omniscient third-person narrator throughout the story, but the narrator describes events only from Case’s point of view and invents jargon and slang.

The European section of Chiba City is a slum with little or no supervision by law enforcement. Anything is available for a price. In addition to the traditional rackets of drug trafficking and prostitution, there is trade in stolen computer hardware and pirated software.

Cash is illegal in Japan and rarely used for legitimate transactions elsewhere in the world. Linda Lee, Case’s girlfriend, steals a memory chip containing money from Case. When she attempts to sell it, the supposed buyer simply kills her rather than pay her price.

The same night, Case meets Molly, a mercenary. Molly escorts Case to Armitage, who is planning some sort of illegal operation. He both bribes and blackmails Case into joining them.

The location then shifts to New York City, now only one part of the Sprawl, officially known as BAMA (Boston-Atlanta Metropolitan Axis). By this time, there is a continuous city stretching from Boston to Atlanta, with the greatest density around Atlanta and New York. Here the conspirators rehearse their plot by breaking into the headquarters of Sense/Net, a corporation. The Panther Moderns, a professional terrorist group, aid them. Molly has an implant in her brain that allows Case to see, hear, feel, smell, and taste everything Molly does. The communication is strictly one-way; Molly gets no information from Case. Molly physically breaks into the building while Case breaks into the computer system to assist her. He does not use a monitor and keyboard. By this time, the Internet has evolved into what Gibson calls the “matrix,” which uses virtual reality. Case directly connects his brain to the matrix. Molly steals a data construct that contains the personality and memories of the late Dixie Flatline, formerly Case’s mentor.

The location shifts once again to Istanbul, where the plotters kidnap a performing holographic artist, Peter Reveira, and recruit him for their conspiracy. Istanbul is also the first place where Wintermute directly contacts Case. Wintermute is an artificial intelligence that controls Armitage and is the driving force behind their plot.

The conspirators then take a space shuttle to a small space habitat called Zion. Earlier in the century, a group of Rastafarians founded Zion for the purpose of providing a refuge for their people. Wintermute has recruited them for his operation by claiming to be a prophet and claiming that the Last Days predicted in the biblical Book of Revelation have arrived. The Rastafarian elders do not trust Wintermute because Revelations also warns that there will be a false prophet in the Last Days. Nevertheless, they provide the conspirators with logistical support for their operation and assign Aerol and Maelcum to help them. The Rastafarians transport them to Freeside, a much larger space habitat.

Peter Reveira’s show attracts the attention of 3Jane Tessier-Ashpool, whose family owns the Tessier-Ashpool Corporation, which controls both Wintermute and Freeside. She invites Reveira into her family’s portion of Freeside, where he helps Molly get inside. However, he then betrays her.

Molly meets Hideo, a Ninja clone who wounds her. At the same time, Case breaks into the computer system with the aid of the Dixie Flatline construct. He meets Neuromancer, another artificial intelligence owned by Tessier-Ashpool. Neuromancer creates a virtual-reality world consisting of a beach house inhabited by Linda Lee. However, Case resists the temptation to live with...

(The entire section is 1,366 words.)