Literature Study GuidesNeuromancerPart 4 Chapter 18 Summary

Neuromancer | Study Guide

William Gibson

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Neuromancer | Part 4, Chapter 18 : The Straylight Run | Summary



Molly enters. A girl, a boy, and Ashpool's corpse are in a large space near a pool. The boy dives into the pool. Molly throws a grenade and then collapses from the pain in her injured leg.

When she wakes up, her hands are in high-tech restraints, and Riviera is searching her. He and a woman discuss Molly as if she is some sort of exotic animal, and then someone sends Case a message to jack out. When he does, Wintermute explains the situation via the computer monitor, in the persona of the Finn. Molly's leg is too badly hurt for her to fight herself free. He sends Case and Maelcum in after her. As Maelcum maneuvers the tug into place, Case touches base with Dixie and then listens to Molly's experience via simstim. 3Jane interrogates Molly on her plans, and Riviera explains why Wintermute will never really understand people. Wintermute has statistical profiles but no real understanding. Riviera also tortures Molly, destroying one of her mirrored eyes. Eventually, Maelcum docks the tug at Villa Straylight.


This chapter begins with tragedy. Molly has spent her life training to be, as Case notes, "every bad-ass hero" from martial arts movies. She became a particularly dark kind of prostitute to buy the augmentation that allows her to move at twice the speed of a normal human. And when she tries to make a triumphant entrance, her leg gives way and she passes out from the pain.

This chapter suggests technology, specifically simstim, can take the place of empathy. When Molly is injured, Case feels the pain.

When Wintermute appears to Maelcum and Case as the Finn via the computer monitor, this demonstrates the gap Dixie had warned about between humanity and AI. Case explains to Maelcum that Wintermute does this to put humans at ease. Wintermute ridicules this idea and says these borrowed faces aren't masks. He uses them because he has no identity of his own. This introduces huge questions about the nature of identity. What does it mean to be able to think and do and desire but not have a personality? What is so useful or essential about this?

These questions loom even larger given the way this chapter explores motivation. Riviera claims Wintermute underestimates him because of his "perversity." Like Case and his drug use, Riviera finds freedom in his psychopathology. Both seem to put them beyond the reach of AIs.

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