Literature Study GuidesNeuromancerPart 4 Chapter 16 Summary

Neuromancer | Study Guide

William Gibson

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Neuromancer | Part 4, Chapter 16 : The Straylight Run | Summary



Case calls Armitage on the yacht. When he does, Armitage quizzes him about seeing Wintermute in the matrix. Case admits he does, and Armitage asks what he looks like—if he looks like General Girling, his former commander. Then the screen goes blank. Case tells Dixie to research that name and then shifts his connection to follow Molly. She is now in a hangar. Her leg is still hurting from her earlier injury. A small drone appears to guide her. As she moves forward, Dixie sends a message about Girling to Case: the fact that Armitage is talking about him means he is falling apart.

When Case jacks out of cyberspace, Maelcum tells him Armitage is acting very strange. He is calling with orders and talking about Screaming Fist. Case jacks into the matrix, where Dixie tells him how the virus is doing and gives him more background on the Tessier-Ashpool clan's activity. Armitage breaks into their talk. He is not really Armitage anymore. He is now Corto again, and he gives Case orders as if Case were one of his soldiers. Maelcum and Case go to the yacht to investigate and find the Japanese pilot assassinated. Corto has locked himself in the bridge, which contains an escape pod, and takes off despite Case's anguished pleas. However, Wintermute modifies the escape sequence to prevent the pod from sealing properly, thus killing Corto.


Wintermute has repeatedly manipulated time in this novel. He gives Case visions lasting far longer than the few minutes he is clinically dead. He brings back memories to communicate with and manipulate the humans he works with. Here, however, the past returns without his control, as Corto emerges from behind the psychological barriers Wintermute used to construct Armitage. This uncontrolled return of the past leads to death.

In this chapter, as in others, Case jacks into and out of several states of consciousness: simstim, body time, and cyberspace. However, when he is in one of these realms, the others don't stop. They keep going. This creates suspense for the reader, but it also fragments Case's experience. He is never fully present in one reality. By contrast, in this chapter Wintermute is present in multiple realities at the same time. His capacity is much greater than that of any human. He can guide Molly via a drone and kill Armitage/Corto at the same time. Finally, Case has been distant and shallow through much of the novel. He is a junkie who lives for the thrill and the moment. However, here Case feels so intensely about Armitage/Corto's experience that he is literally screaming as he tries to save him. However, despite this, he continues to work for Wintermute even after Wintermute kills Corto.

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