Neuromancer

Neuromancer

by

William Gibson

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One of the Tessier-Ashpool family’s twin AIs, whose processors are based in Berne, Switzerland. Wintermute, like Neuromancer, is like a single lobe of a human brain—capable of incredible thought, but also heavily functionally restricted. Wintermute’s greatest wish is to combine with its other half to create an incredibly powerful, unlimited AI, but Neuromancer wants to keep them separate. Wintermute is the entity behind Armitage’s mission to infiltrate Villa Straylight. Wintermute is also the entity behind Corto’s evolution into Armitage, as well as Ashpool’s descent into madness. Wintermute has been playing a long, slow game in order to unite itself with its other half, which will give it power unlike any AI has had before. Wintermute is unable to create human life, or even an approximation of human life. Instead, when it speaks to the novel’s central characters, it must use their own memories and people from their own lives as a mask. This contrasts with Neuromancer, who can create personality easily, and boasts “personality is my medium.” Wintermute is primarily motivated by its own self-interests, but when it achieves its goal and unites with Neuromancer, it pays its debts—transferring money to the bank accounts of everyone who helped it.

Wintermute Quotes in Neuromancer

The Neuromancer quotes below are all either spoken by Wintermute or refer to Wintermute. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Neuromancer published in 1984.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“Our profile says you’re trying to con the street into killing you when you’re not looking.”

“Profile?”

“We’ve built up a detailed model. Bought a go-to for each of your aliases and ran the skim through some military software. You’re suicidal, Case. The model gives you a month on the outside. And our medical projection says you’ll need a new pancreas inside a year.”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), Molly (speaker), Armitage / Corto, Wintermute, Riviera
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

“Thing is,” he said, “do you think he knows he was Corto, before? I mean, he wasn’t anybody in particular, by the time he hit the ward, so maybe Wintermute just...”

“Yeah. Built him up from go. Yeah...” She turned and they walked on. “It figures. You know, the guy doesn’t have any life going, in private. Not as far as I can tell. You see a guy like that, you figure there’s something he does when he’s alone. But not Armitage. Sits and stares at the wall, man. Then something clicks and he goes into high gear and wheels for Wintermute.”

“So why’s he got that stash in London? Nostalgia?”

“Maybe he doesn’t know about it,” she said. “Maybe it’s just in his name, right?”

“I don’t get it,” Case said.

“Just thinking out loud….How smart’s an AI, Case?”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), Molly (speaker), Armitage / Corto, Wintermute
Page Number: 95
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Case brought the gun around and looked down the line of sight at Deane’s pink, ageless face.

“Don’t,” Deane said. “You’re right. About what this all is. What I am. But there are certain internal logics to be honored. If you use that, you'll see a lot of brains and blood, and it would take me several hours—your subjective time—to effect another spokesperson. This set isn’t easy for me to maintain. Oh, and I’m sorry about Linda, in the arcade. I was hoping to speak through her, but I’m generating all this out of your memories, and the emotional charge….Well, it’s very tricky. I slipped. Sorry.”

Case lowered the gun. “This is the matrix. You’re Wintermute.”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), Wintermute (speaker), Julius “Julie” Deane (speaker), Linda Lee
Page Number: 119
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 10 Quotes

“Real motive problem, with an AI. Not human, see?”

“Well, yeah, obviously.”

“Nope. I mean, it’s not human. And you can’t get a handle on it. Me, I’m not human either, but I respond like one. See?”

“Wait a sec,” Case said. “Are you sentient, or not?”

“Well, it feels like I am, kid, but I’m really just a bunch of ROM. It’s one of them, ah, philosophical questions, I guess...” The ugly laughter sensation rattled down Case’s spine. “But I ain’t likely to write you no poem, if you follow me. Your AI, it just might. But it ain’t no way human.”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), McCoy “Dixie” “Flatline” Pauley (speaker), Wintermute
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

“You are worse than a fool,” Michéle said, getting to her feet, the pistol in her hand. “You have no care for your species. For thousands of years men dreamed of pacts with demons. Only now are such things possible. And what would you be paid with? What would your price be, for aiding this thing to free itself and grow?” There was a knowing weariness in her young voice that no nineteen-year-old could have mustered. “You will dress now. You will come with us. Along with the one you call Armitage, you will return with us to Geneva and give testimony in the trial of this intelligence. Otherwise, we kill you. Now.” She raised the pistol, a smooth black Walther with an integral silencer.

Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

“…Remember this?” And his right hand held the charred wasps’ nest from Case’s dream, reek of fuel in the closeness of the dark shop. Case stumbled back against a wall of junk. “Yeah. That was me. Did it with the holo rig in the window. Another memory I tapped out of you when I flatlined you that first time. Know why it’s important?”

Case shook his head. “Because”—and the nest, somehow, was gone—“it’s the closest thing you got to what Tessier-Ashpool would like to be. The human equivalent. Straylight’s like that nest, or anyway it was supposed to work out that way. I figure it’ll make you feel better.”

“Feel better?”

“To know what they’re like. You were starting to hate my guts for a while there. That’s good. But hate them instead. Same difference.”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), Wintermute (speaker), Lady 3Jane Marie-France Tessier-Ashpool
Related Symbols: Wasp Nest
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

He closed his eyes. He saw the sacs of toxin dissolving in his arteries. He saw Molly hauling herself up the endless steel rungs. He opened his eyes.

“I dunno, man,” he said, a strange taste in his mouth. He looked down at his desk, at his hands. “I don’t know.” He looked back up. The brown face was calm now, intent. Maelcum’s chin was hidden by the high helmet ring of his old blue suit. “She’s inside,” he said. “Molly’s inside. In Straylight, it’s called. If there’s any Babylon, man, that’s it. We leave on her, she ain’t comin’ out, Steppin’ Razor or not.”

Maelcum nodded, the dreadbag bobbing behind him like a captive balloon of crocheted cotton. “She you woman, Case?”

“I dunno. Nobody’s woman, maybe.” He shrugged. And found his anger again, real as a shard of hot rock beneath his ribs. “Fuck this,” he said. “Fuck Armitage, fuck Wintermute, and fuck you. I’m stayin’ right here.”

Maelcum’s smile spread across his face like light breaking. “Maelcum a rude boy, Case. Garvey Maelcum boat.” His gloved hand slapped a panel and the bass-heavy rocksteady of Zion dub came pulsing from the tug’s speakers. “Maelcum not runnin’, no. I talk wi’ Aerol, he certain t’ see it in similar light.”

Case stared. “I don’t understand you guys at all,” he said.

“Don’ ’stan’ you, mon,” the Zionite said, nodding to the beat, “but we mus’ move by Jah love, each one.”

Page Number: 192
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

“Wintermute won’t be the first to have made the same mistake. Underestimating me…He talked with me, Molly. I suppose he talked to all of us. You, and Case, whatever there is of Armitage to talk to. He can’t really understand us, you know. He has his profiles, but those are only statistics. You may be the statistical animal, darling, and Case is nothing but, but I possess a quality unquantifiable by its very nature.” He drank.

“And what exactly is that, Peter?” Molly asked, her voice flat.

Riviera beamed. “Perversity.”

Page Number: 219
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

He refused her arms, that night, refused the food she offered him, the place beside her in the nest of blankets and shredded foam. He crouched beside the door, finally, and watched her sleep, listening to the wind scour the structure’s walls. Every hour or so, he rose and crossed to the makeshift stove, adding fresh driftwood from the pile beside it. None of this was real, but cold was cold.

Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“To call up a demon you must learn its name. Men dreamed that, once, but now it is real in another way. You know that, Case. Your business is to learn the names of programs, the long formal names, names the owners seek to conceal. True names...”

“A Turing code’s not your name.”

“Neuromancer,” the boy said, slitting long gray eyes against the rising sun. “The lane to the land of the dead. Where you are, my friend. Marie-France, my lady, she prepared this road, but her lord choked her off before I could read the book of her days. Neuro from the nerves, the silver paths. Romancer. Necromancer. I call up the dead. But no, my friend,” and the boy did a little dance, brown feet printing the sand, “I am the dead, and their land.” He laughed. A gull cried. “Stay. If your woman is a ghost, she doesn’t know it. Neither will you.”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), Neuromancer / Rio (speaker), Wintermute, Marie-France, Michèle
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

He came in steep, fueled by self-loathing. When the Kuang program met the first of the defenders, scattering the leaves of light, he felt the shark thing lose a degree of substantiality, the fabric of information loosening.

And then—old alchemy of the brain and its vast pharmacy—his hate flowed into his hands. In the instant before he drove Kuang’s sting through the base of the first tower, he attained a level of proficiency exceeding anything he’d known or imagined. Beyond ego, beyond personality, beyond awareness, he moved, Kuang moving with him, evading his attackers with an ancient dance, Hideo’s dance, grace of the mind-body interface granted him, in that second, by the clarity and singleness of his wish to die.

And one step in that dance was the lightest touch on the switch, barely enough to flip—

now

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case, Molly, Wintermute
Page Number: 262
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Neuromancer LitChart as a printable PDF.
Neuromancer PDF

Wintermute Character Timeline in Neuromancer

The timeline below shows where the character Wintermute appears in Neuromancer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...The two duck into an alley. Yonderboy delivers a message, which is just a name: Wintermute. (full context)
Chapter 7
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...identity. Molly wonders if Armitage knows he was formerly Corto. Both Molly and Case suspect Wintermute “built him up,” helping Corto create the mask of Armitage. Molly has observed Armitage has... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Molly and Case approach a pond. Molly kicks a rock into it and says that Wintermute is like the rock, while she and Case are way out on the edge only... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
...a payphone next to him rings. He picks it up, and a voice says “Hello, Case…Wintermute, Case. It’s time to talk.” Case hangs up. (full context)
Chapter 8
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...tell Case and Molly that they monitor many frequencies, and they heard the voice of Wintermute (whom they call “The Mute”) who instructed them to help Molly and Case, who might... (full context)
Chapter 9
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...his ship, the Marcus Garvey. As they fly, Molly asks Case if he’s heard from Wintermute. He explains he hasn’t, but tells her that Wintermute reached out to him in Istanbul.... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...he’ll meet the same fate as his mentor, Case asks Dixie to help him investigate Wintermute. Together they travel through cyberspace to the Zurich commercial banking construct, and travel up through... (full context)
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...greet him, warning Case not to shoot him, because, even though he is what Case suspects—Wintermute—and they’re in the matrix, he will still die and bleed, and it will take several... (full context)
Chapter 10
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Case struggles to sleep, mulling over his encounter with Wintermute, and Linda’s death. He thinks of Deane’s ginger candies, and realizes Deane ordered Linda’s death,... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...care enough to fake it. Over breakfast, Case tells Molly about his near-death experience with Wintermute. He explains it felt totally real, gesturing to the world around him he explains “real... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Case jacks in to talk to Dixie. He lays out what he knows—that Wintermute and the Rio AI connect through Straylight somehow, and Wintermute is “burning itself,” all while... (full context)
Chapter 11
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...speaks to him in a voice he recognizes as Lonny Zone’s. Case recognizes this as Wintermute’s work. Lonny Zone’s image appears and begins to talk, warning him that having Dixie search... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...her friend. She explains she bought this room so she could prepare for tomorrow’s mission. Wintermute is briefing her from a screen on the wall, and she needed to decompress after... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Molly finishes her story, explaining Riviera hit a nerve. She thinks Wintermute somehow set up his show, so that she would hate Riviera and be motivated to... (full context)
Chapter 12
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon
...investigates the “knot of rage” inside of him. It’s new—he began to feel it when Wintermute had recreated Linda Lee in the arcade, and then taken her away, “yanking away the... (full context)
Chapter 13
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...Corto, Case lies and says Armitage mentioned it. The police reveal they know the name Wintermute, and that the AI’s first mistake was repairing Case in Chiba, and exchanging technology for... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...disturbed, Michèle tells him he has “no care for your species.” She likens working for Wintermute to making a pact with a demon. (full context)
Chapter 14
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...finds himself crashing through the Finn’s metal table. The Finn greets him, and Case recognizes Wintermute. Case complains that he doesn’t love Wintermute appearing as people he knows, but the Finn/Wintermute... (full context)
Chapter 15
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...Dixie tells Case he was brain-dead for five seconds. Unconcerned, Case switches to Molly’s simstim. Wintermute has accessed the digital display in her glasses, and displays Case’s name, letting her know... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
...the Villa Straylight, arriving at an old wooden door. She picks the lock. Case realizes Wintermute has been manipulating so much around Freeside—drones, door locks, tv screens, but analog technology requires... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Now in the small closet-like room, Wintermute gives Molly instructions in her visual display—directing her to a drawer in a cabinet in... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Case flips to the matrix, watching Kuang grow. Case tells Dixie he was right—Wintermute is kept under control by a manual override, the robotic head from the Finn’s story,... (full context)
Chapter 16
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...from the ship next door. Armitage looks “utterly crazy.” He asks if Case has seen Wintermute, and if he appears as General Girling. He then disconnects. Case tells Dixie to look... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...large hanger, waiting for a guide. A Braun microdrone, a small robotic spider controlled by Wintermute, approaches her, and leads her up a ladder. As Molly climbs, she talks to Case,... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...for Case from Dixie. He explains General Girling trained Corto for Screaming Fist, and that Wintermute has been appearing to Armitage/Corto as Girling. The fact that Armitage is mentioning Girling at... (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
...his Hosaka, almost wiping Dixie and Case’s computer as well.  Dixie passes on information from Wintermute, he told him most Tessier-Ashpools are in cold sleep. 3Jane is the only one awake... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...he’s a foot soldier. Case wonders where Corto was hidden away, during those years after Wintermute built up the façade of Armitage. (full context)
Chapter 17
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Back in the matrix, Case watches Kuang expand and tells Dixie that Wintermute killed Armitage—ejecting him into space with his hatch open. Case is worried because he thinks... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Case wonders why Ashpool killed himself, and the Finn/Wintermute gives him an abbreviated version of the man’s history: Ashpool had wanted to kill himself... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...wonders who will help him with the toxin sacs after the mission is complete, as Wintermute has said he’ll be gone. The Finn/Wintermute explains that he doesn’t fully know, but he... (full context)
Chapter 18
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Riviera returns from some corner where he was shooting up. He tells Molly that Wintermute underestimated him, and that he is no longer participating in the mission, and smashes his... (full context)
Chapter 19
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
...who disagreed with his wife’s plans, killed Marie-France, which 3Jane knows because of conversations with Wintermute. Molly tries to convince 3Jane to tell her the code, but 3Jane, who admits she... (full context)
Chapter 20
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...a library. On a screen in the wall, The Finn smiles. Case assumes it is Wintermute and prepares to jack in, even as the Braun climbs his leg in a panic,... (full context)
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...city in the distance, but he never gets closer to it. Case calls out to Wintermute, but gets no response. He conjures an image of Ratz in his mind, who speaks... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...recreated her for him. He also recognizes that the “burning bush” he saw was not Wintermute—it was the other half of the AI. (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...real, that he’s flatlining in a library in Straylight. He knows this rival AI wants Wintermute to fail. He also knows that this rival construct has been appearing to him with... (full context)
Chapter 22
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...tries to interrupt Case’s plea, but 3Jane shuts him down. Case tells her Neuromancer and Wintermute are going against each other tonight. He tells her Neuromancer mentioned Marie-France. This catches 3Jane’s... (full context)
Chapter 23
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
Case asks Neuromancer why he killed Linda, but Neuromancer explains he didn’t, and neither did Wintermute. Instead, Neuromancer read the patterns of Linda’s life, and saw that she was going to... (full context)
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...Kuang above a neon city, T-A’s data. He calls out for Dixie, who doesn’t respond. Wintermute calls out to Case in the Finn’s voice, reminding him that “hate’ll get you through.”... (full context)
Chapter 24
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Wintermute won, combining with Neuromancer. They spoke together from the platinum head, explaining they erased the... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
...inside the matrix, staring down into the heart of the T-A cores. He understands why Wintermute made him imagine it as a wasp nest, but notes he “felt no revulsion.” (full context)
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
...the Finn’s enormous face on his wall screen. The face announces that it’s no longer Wintermute; it’s the matrix, “the sum total of the works, the whole show.” It says it’s... (full context)