Literature Study GuidesNeuromancerPart 4 Chapter 20 Summary

Neuromancer | Study Guide

William Gibson

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Neuromancer | Part 4, Chapter 20 : The Straylight Run | Summary



Case and Maelcum ride the service cart through Villa Straylight. Wintermute guides them with a drone. When they reach a library, Wintermute appears on a computer monitor and tells Case to jack into the matrix. When he does, everything is different. Instead of the representations of the AI, the security measures, and the virus they are using to attack them, Case experiences gray and a sense of motion. Then he experiences himself on a beach, with a city in the distance. He talks to Wintermute and then to Ratz. He then enters a bunker, where he encounters Linda. For Case, hours seem to pass. He realizes it isn't Wintermute who is doing all of this, but the other entity (who turns out to be Neuromancer) in the Tessier-Ashpool complex.

Case goes to sleep. When he wakes, Linda is gone. He strips down to wash his clothes, and Linda returns. He questions her about her experience and what she remembers. Linda tells Case that "he" (Neuromancer) told her Case was coming.


This is the first time Case has knowingly encountered Neuromancer directly. The experience is very different from his contacts with Wintermute. Wintermute has always worked through intermediaries. Wintermute says he must animate personality constructs of people from Case's experience, such as Julie or the Finn, because he has no personality of his own. He comes to Case in visions or on monitors. Now, Neuromancer completely replaces the experience of cyberspace. When Case jacks in, there is "no matrix, no grid. No cyberspace." Experiencing Neuromancer, Case loses his sense of self and position in the world, cyber and physical. Instead, there is an entirely new world. Case has trouble making sense of this new realm: Does he see a city, a building, a ruin? He can't tell.

For a time, Case thinks he's with Wintermute. Then he realizes the truth, and it isn't reassuring. Instead of being trapped with one of Wintermute's constructs, he is trapped with "a ghost"—Linda Lee's ghost. This isn't the exciting virtual reality of cyberspace. This is closer to the realm portrayed in the 1999 movie The Matrix: a complete substitution for reality, with no escape. This chapter is one reason people see such close ties between Gibson's novel and that movie.
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