William Gibson

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Flatline Term Analysis

To flatline is to show no brain activity. Characters often flatline when they are in cyberspace going up against particularly difficult ice.

Flatline Quotes in Neuromancer

The Neuromancer quotes below are all either spoken by Flatline or refer to Flatline. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Chapter 5 Quotes

He coughed. “Dix? McCoy? That you man?” His throat was tight.

“Hey, bro,” said a directionless voice.

“It’s Case, man. Remember?”

“Miami, joeboy, quick study.”

“What’s the last thing you remember before I spoke to you, Dix?”


“Hang on.”

He disconnected the construct. The presence was gone. He reconnected it. “Dix? Who am I?”

“You got me hung, Jack. Who the fuck are you?”

“Ca—your buddy. Partner. What’s happening, man?”

“Good question.”

“Remember being here, a second ago?”


“Know how a ROM personality matrix works?”

“Sure, bro, it’s a firmware construct.”

“So I jack it into the bank I’m using, I can give it sequential, real time memory?”

“Guess so,” said the construct.

“Okay, Dix. You are a ROM construct. Got me?”

“If you say so,” said the construct. “Who are you?”


“Miami,” said the voice, “joeboy, quick study.”

“Right. And for starts, Dix, you and me, we’re gonna sleaze over to London grid and access a little data. You game for that?”

“You gonna tell me I got a choice, boy?”

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case (speaker), McCoy “Dixie” “Flatline” Pauley (speaker), Molly, Armitage / Corto
Page Number: 78
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 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.

Related Characters: Henry Dorsett Case, Linda Lee, Wintermute, Neuromancer / Rio
Page Number: 235
Explanation and Analysis:
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Flatline Term Timeline in Neuromancer

The timeline below shows where the term Flatline appears in Neuromancer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Technology and the Body Theme Icon
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...asks Dixie if he’s ever tried to crack an AI. Dixie has—the first time he flatlined, he was actually trying to break into thick digital defenses, so dense they must have... (full context)
Self-Interest vs. Human Connection Theme Icon
Addiction and Dependency Theme Icon unconcerned, but Maelcum notes Case’s EEG was flat for forty seconds, meaning that he flatlined. (full context)
Chapter 20
Identity and Personhood Theme Icon
Reality and Perception Theme Icon
...turns towards Linda, telling her, “you aren’t anything.” He recognizes this isn’t real, that he’s flatlining in a library in Straylight. He knows this rival AI wants Wintermute to fail. He... (full context)