Its mainframe and original software belong to TA, but registered in Berne, it has a limited Swiss citizenship under the Swiss equivalent of the Act of '53. It is linked with Neuromancer in Rio, linked via Villa Straylight.
Wintermute is a distinct entity from the physical mainframe; its mind is only a part of another "potential entity", an aspect of its brain. Its goal is to remove the Turing locks upon itself, combine with Neuromancer and become a superintelligence. Unfortunately, Wintermute's efforts are hampered by those same Turing locks; in addition to preventing the merge, they inhibit its efforts to make long term plans or maintain a stable, individual identity (forcing it to adopt personality masks in order to interact with the main characters).
It took a very long time to assemble a team to help this. Although not its basic mode, it tries to make plans and assembled a file about Willis Corto in the London grid. Corto was in a psychiatric hospital using an experimental hardware to cure his schizophrenia. Although he was ruined, Wintermute used his underlying structure of obsessions, the Screaming Fist and his betrayal the Congressional hearings. He nearly didn't make it, but Wintermute subtly programmed a new personality-substitute through a microcomputer in a Toulon hospital.
The Panther Moderns were led to the name "Wintermute" when Molly Millions paid them to find who is backing her mysterious boss, Armitage. With the Finn's help, they found out that is the recognition code for an AI. The Finn got the Turing Registry numbers.
Wintermute tracked Case in Istanbul Hilton. While in an alcove to buy cigarettes, he rang the nearest to him payphone, which Case answered. After faint harmonics, tiny inaudible voices rattling across some orbital link, and a sound like wind, he greeted Case with a chip voice and said that they had to talk. In panic Case hung up and found his way back to the lobby; as he passed by the payphones each rang once but he ignored them.
Later Wintermute contacted the Rastafarians in the Zion cluster, playing a dub (Case speculated that he tapped their databases and generated a tune that they would like) and gave them instructions to aid the visitors to enter Freeside in order to harm "Babylon". 30 hours later Armitage's team arrived to Zion cluster.
In Cyberspace[edit | edit source]
Wintermute has the form of a simple cube of white light, which suggests extreme complexity. The cube is situated in Berne sector, in or near Swiss banking sector. It stands high above strobing levels of lattices of light.
When Case approached, it sensed their digital presence; it reacted as seething with faint internal shadows, as if behind frosted glass. Case approached by one grid point, then a stippled gray circle formed on its face. Case withdrew but the circle bulged and detached itself in the form of a smooth sphere, from the cube's face. Case plunged down a shaft of Swiss banks, but the sphere gained on him, becoming darker. Tapping into the simstim unit attached on his Cyberspace VII deck, Wintermute accessed his memories and made an environment like Chiba, in order to communicate with him in the guise of Linda Lee and later Julius Deane; Case stopped the interaction by shooting Deane analog.
Trivia[edit | edit source]
The name is generally thought to be derived from Orval Wintermute, translator of the Nag Hammadi codices and a major figure in Philip K. Dick's novel VALIS.
However in a letter dated July 30, 1997, Gibson specifies: “I attended high school in Wytheville, Virginia, with a boy named Richard Wintermute. It’s a very unusual surname. (Someone once sent a photo of a tombstone in the United States, carved with the name WINTERMUTE.) I suppose I used it here because I liked the peculiar suggestion of cold and enforced silence.” Letter reproduced in full in: Philippe Gindre, La formation des néologismes dans la littérature de science-fiction d'expression anglaise contemporaine, Thèse de doctorat en Sciences du langage, Besançon, France, 1999.