(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...

(The entire section is 682 words.)

Neuromancer Summary

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The protagonist of Neuromancer is Case, whom no one calls by his first name. In the opening chapter, he is barely making it as a street hustler in Chiba City, a suburb of Tokyo where many Europeans and Americans live. Case was formerly a cyberspace cowboy who stole data from banks, corporations, and governments, but he was caught double-crossing one of his clients. This client punished him by altering his nervous system so he can no longer use the neural implants required to interface with the world’s computer matrix.

Case is recruited by a mysterious man named Armitage to become a cyberspace cowboy once again. In addition to a generous fee, Armitage arranges for Case’s nervous system to be repaired. However, the surgeons also install sacs of poison with time-release mechanisms into Case’s body so he will not consider disappearing. Armitage promises to remove the poison when Case accomplishes his mission. Case later finds out that Armitage’s real name is Willis Corto and that he is a soldier who lost his eyesight, legs, part of his jaw, and his sanity in World War III. Someone has restored him physically, but Case quickly realizes that Armitage’s apparent sanity is only a facade. Armitage was inspired by the character of Commissioner Hauk in the 1981 film Escape from New York.

Armitage’s principal associate is Molly Millions, a former prostitute who is now a “razor girl.” Gibson originally created Molly for “Johnny Mnemonic” and featured her again in Mona Lisa Overdrive. Retractable razors have been implanted into her hands in place of her fingernails, and her reflexes have been enhanced.


(The entire section is 684 words.)

Neuromancer Summary

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

The title’s significance is revealed late in the book, but the word itself is evocative: taken from necromancer, magic involving the dead, neuromancer is magic involving the human nervous system. Henry Dorsett Case’s neuromancy is his ability to jack into cyberspace and navigate through the matrix of a computerized online world. Once a highly skilled console cowboy—someone who navigates through cyberspace (also known as the matrix) and breaks ICE, security measures that protect information—-he stole from a client and had his jacking abilities physically destroyed as punishment.

Now based in Chiba, Japan, Case finds out from his lover Linda Lee that a client of his, Wage, wants him dead. Confronting Wage, Case learns that Linda’s claim was merely a ruse so she could steal a RAM from Case and fly home. However, Case was being tailed by Molly, a cybernetically enhanced bodyguard. Molly introduces Case to her boss, Armitage, who offers to surgically restore his console abilities if he will perform an assignment with those skills. Later, at an arena with Molly, Case witnesses Linda’s murder.

After Case undergoes his operations in Chiba, he, Molly, and Armitage head to Paris, then to the Sprawl, a megalopolis covering the eastern United States. Thrilled to be able to jack into the matrix again, Case gets to work. With the help of Molly’s associate Finn and the Modern Panthers gang, Case simstims through Molly—that is, jacks into her sensory experiences—while she steals a construct housing a copy of legendary console cowboy McCoy “Dixie” Pauley’s intelligence. Later, the group finds out Armitage is controlled by Wintermute, an artificial intelligence (AI) owned by the Tessier-Ashpool corporation. Finn recalls an earlier encounter with another Tessier-Ashpool AI, Rio. With the Flatline Dixie’s help, Case discovers Armitage is a personality imposed on...

(The entire section is 777 words.)