Literature Study GuidesNeuromancerPart 3 Chapter 8 Summary

Neuromancer | Study Guide

William Gibson

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Neuromancer | Part 3, Chapter 8 : Midnight in the Rue Jules Verne | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 8 opens with a description of Freeside, a space station. The team gets on a shuttle to take them to another space station named Zion, built by Rastafarian workers who refused to return to Earth. Molly guides Case on how to navigate in the zero-gravity atmosphere of Zion, and Armitage briefs Case on what to expect as his body adapts to the new environment.

Case practices accessing cyberspace in zero gravity. He asks Dixie what his situation as a constructed personality feels like. Dixie says that like an amputated limb, he feels nothing, and asks Case to erase him once the job is over.

During one rest period, a representative of Zion wakes Case and Molly and takes them to see the Elders. The two remaining founders of the space colony tell Molly she is part of their religious prophecy, the figure of "Steppin' Razor." They also tell Case and Molly that they monitor a range of radio frequencies and Wintermute spoke to them through the radio (and dub, their worship music). Wintermute told the Elders to help Case and Molly.

Analysis

This part's title, "Midnight in the Rue Jules Verne," is another of Gibson's stylistics riffs, almost like a jazz solo. There is a real Rue Jules Verne in Paris, so this shows again how humans are rebuilding the past in new areas, specifically space. Key portions of the well-known 1972 film Last Tango in Paris are set in an apartment with the address of 1 Rue Jules Verne. Jules Verne was himself a major figure in the development of science fiction. This famous 19th-century French author wrote such works as 20,000 Leagues under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days.

Zion is a location in the Old Testament. It is the hill upon which Jerusalem was built. It also has symbolic meaning. In Judaism, Zion refers to the Jewish homeland, or to an ideal homeland destined for Jews. Within the Jamaican religion of Rastafarianism, Zion has related but distinct meanings. Like Judaism, Rastafarianism uses Zion to refer to an ideal land, a "promised land," or homeland. However, it adds an opposition: Zion, the spiritual homeland, differs from the unholy lands of Babylon. The name Babylon also comes from the Bible, but in Rastafarianism, it refers to the Western world and the corrupt material world. Babylon enslaved humanity in general and Africans in particular. Rastafarianism seeks to help people free their minds. Introducing Rastafarianism enables Gibson to engage in further stylistic experiments, because Rastafarians tend to speak a dialect with its own variations on English. And finally, their perspective adds another mythic dimension to the novel, as the inhabitants of Zion see Molly as an archetype of their religion.

At the same time, the Elders' account of their interaction with Wintermute raises many questions about humanity's relationship with the technology it has created and the implications of the plot in which Case and Molly are involved. Wintermute is already sophisticated; he can generate religious music and mislead believers by speaking to them. Wintermute doesn't reason mathematically or logically, like the first computers. Instead, he can act creatively, symbolically, and perhaps even spiritually.

The Elders of Zion are Case and Molly's allies, but they do not join their team. Zion has its own mission, and this insulates the Zionites somewhat from the dehumanizing influence of global capitalism on Earth.

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