The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

These three novels constitute a loose trilogy. Several characters recur, and the stories are set at roughly the same time, involving many of the same locations, particularly the Sprawl, the megalopolis stretching from Boston to Atlanta. All three novels deal with computer “cowboys” surfing for information on the world’s cyberspace matrix.

Neuromancer begins in Japan with the recruitment of Case, a burned out matrix cowboy turned hustler, by Armitage, an agent for persons unknown. Armitage uses Molly, a street warrior, to collect Case. They build a team that includes Dixie Flatline, a cyberspace replica of a deceased hacker’s consciousness, and Rivera, who can create holographic illusions telepathically. They travel to Freeside, an orbiting space station, and learn that their employer is actually an artificial intelligence, code-named Wintermute, that is seeking illegally to augment itself. It hired the group to hack into its own core and remove the limits placed on its capacity to grow.

At the tip of Freeside, the team penetrates the Villa Straylight, home of the Tessier-Ashpool dynasty that created Wintermute. The team meets 3Jane Marie-France Tessier-Ashpool, one of the dynasty’s cloned “daughters.” Armitage and Rivera are killed. 3Jane gives up the password that allows for the transformation of Wintermute, which then joins with another artificial intelligence called Neuromancer. The two attain full sentience, becoming Earth’s computer matrix itself.

Count Zero braids together three main narrative threads. Seven years after the events in Neuromancer, strange “ghosts” appear in the computer network. Bobby Newmark, known as Count Zero, is a novice hacker on his first “run” in the matrix using some hijacked software. He is nearly killed but is saved by a mysterious female presence, whom his voodoo-practicing mentors call the Holy Virgin. Newmark is pursued by unknown agents but hides in a nightclub in the Sprawl.

Meanwhile, art dealer Marly Krushkova is hired by Josef Virek, the richest man in the...

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(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

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