Neuromancer | Study Guide

William Gibson

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Neuromancer | Coda, Chapter 24 : Departure and Arrival | Summary

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Summary

After an indefinite amount of time, Case returns to the hotel room at the Hyatt he shares with Molly. She wrote him a goodbye note and left. Case goes back to his old haunts, but Ratz only distantly remembers him. Case thinks about what happened: Wintermute fused with Neuromancer, and the two together became a single larger entity. The entity altered the Turing police's records, so no one knows about it. It also paid Case and Molly a lot of money and gave Case instructions on how to get rid of the neurotoxins in his system.

The fused entity appears to Case after he reflects on all of this. It tells Case, "I'm the matrix ... I'm the sum total of the works, the whole show." Case asks if things are different and if the entity is now God. The entity tells him things are the same but it is now talking to something like itself, which it found in the Centauri system. Case buys himself a new liver and pancreas and a new deck he can use to jack into the matrix. He starts working again as a cyber cowboy. At one point in the matrix he sees three figures: the boy who had been the other AI (Neuromancer), Linda, and himself. Case never sees Molly again.

Analysis

This final chapter, labeled the coda (concluding section), functions like the end of a traditional detective novel, in which the detective identifies the criminal and explains the reasoning that led to his capture. In this case, though, the final summing up is decidedly more ambiguous. Case succeeded in beating the ice he was fighting. Working with Dixie and the Chinese virus, he pulled off a hack that should make him legendary. However, because Wintermute altered the records, no trace of him exists, and neither do Case's achievements, at least not in any sense that matters. If he talks about them, he might reopen the case and lead the Turing police back to an awareness of Wintermute.

Wintermute's success is also ambiguous. He fused with Neuromancer and became the larger entity he was willing to kill to become. He followed the equivalent of instincts for AIs and became more. He specifically says it is like he became cyberspace, which would be like the entire Internet and all the data linked to it becoming one sentient being. This would mean that all future activity in cyberspace is suspect. If Wintermute can alter police and bank records this easily, then all records are vulnerable. Case is free from the toxin sacs in his system, but he spends most of his money and returns to his earlier activities. Wintermute may have advanced, but Case essentially comes full circle, returning to the hacking he so loved. He seems unaware or unconcerned that he has completely changed the nature of his addiction (cyberspace). Gibson never explains the figures Case sees in cyberspace. They might mean a ghost of Case remains in the matrix. Or they might mean Case is one of the fathers of the new order in which Wintermute is cyberspace.

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