Study Guide

Neuromancer Manipulation

By William Gibson

Manipulation

"I think you screwed up, Case. I showed up and you just fit me right into your reality picture." (1.213)

Case misunderstands Molly and her purpose in the first chapter. In a way, Case's mind manipulates the world around him to fit in with his experience and understand of the world. But hey, we're all guilty of that now and again.

The Panther Moderns allowed four minutes for their first move to take effect, then injected a second carefully prepared does of misinformation. (4.62)

We often think of terrorists as people who use guns and bombs to reach their goals. The Panther Moderns demonstrate that a manipulation of information can be far subtler and just as deadly.

"I was hoping to speak through [Linda], but I'm generating all this out of your memories, and the emotional charge…Well, it's very tricky. I slipped. Sorry." (9.104)

We're used to Case's emotions manipulating the world around him, but now, we see his emotions saving him from being manipulated. Interesting…

Wintermute could build a kind of personality into a shell. How subtle a form could manipulation take? (10.27)

An interesting thing about manipulation and technology: the subtler the more effective.

In the dream, just before he'd drenched the nest with fuel, he'd seen the T-A logo of Tessier-Ashpool neatly embossed into its side, as though the wasps themselves had worked in there. (10.38)

Memory is a faulty mechanic. We misremember parts of our past all the time. Here, Case is remembering an incident from his past, but he isn't misremembering it. Instead, Wintermute is manipulating the memory. But what if someone could manipulate our memories without us knowing? How would we know what really happened from what we are only told happened? And wasn't this in a movie already?

"Because—" and the [wasps] nest, somehow, was gone—"it's the closet thing you got to what Tessier-Ashpool would like to be. The human equivalent." (14.88)

In social wasp societies, the female that builds the nest rules the nest as queen. Wintermute claims the Tessier-Ashpool family wants to manipulate humans to work for them like they are the queen wasp. Although the idea of being a working bee slave isn't too appealing, all the free nectar would be delicious…

The ugliness of the door struck Case as she reached for it. Not the door itself, which was beautiful, or had once been part of some more beautiful whole, but the way it had been sawn down to fit a particular entrance. (15.24)

The Tessier-Ashpools try to manipulate the world to fit their view of how things should be. They're so obsessed with making everything the way they want it that they can't even leave a plain old door alone. Jeez.

[…] twist a man far enough, then twist him as far back, in the opposite direction, reverse and twist again. The man broke. Like breaking a length of wire. (17.12)

You've got to feel sorry for Armitage here. The costs of manipulation are plain to see in his part of this story. But are we sure he would have been better off as Corto?

"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…" (21.29)

Technology takes the place of magic in Neuromancer's explanation of his own existence. To see a fantasy example of this name trope, check out Ursula Le Guin's "A Wizard of Earthsea." 

"So what's the score? How are things different? You running the world now? You God?"

"Things aren't different. Things are things." (24.30-31)

Ah, the infamously ambiguous ending. The reader doesn't know whether Wintermute/Neuromancer will manipulate the world to their liking. Of course, it is suggested that there have always been manipulators anyway, so… whatever?