When he decides to call back in there, Ratz acts like he doesn't recognise him and shows complete indifference.

I am wondering how much time has passed at that point, or if in fact there is some other reason Ratz shows complete indifference.

That section of the book bugged me so much due to the feelings of isolation both Case and Ratz must feel towards everyday people in their lives, like everything is transient. This is probably deliberate, but it really messed with my head.

I'd welcome any opinions on this.

  • Opinions aren't generally expected on this site, but facts and conclusions drawn from them.
    – AJL
    Oct 12, 2015 at 15:25

1 Answer 1


Case was back in Chiba City for operations to heal Molly:

He looked down at [the shuriken]. They'd passed the shop where she'd bought it for him, when they'd gone to Chiba together for the last of her operations. He'd gone to the Chatsubo, that night, while she was in the clinic, and seen Ratz. Something had kept him away from the place, on their five previous trips, but now he'd felt like going back.

No time frame is given by the book, but given her injuries, it's reasonable to assume this is not long after he gets paid off by Wintermute - as little as one month, I would say no more than six.

It's pretty clear from the book, though, that time is not the primary reason Ratz doesn't recognize him:

Ratz had served him without the slightest glimmer of recognition.

"Hey," he'd said, "it's me. Case."

The old eyes regarding him out of their dark webs of wrinkled flesh. "Ah," Ratz had said, at last, "the artiste." The bartender shrugged.

"I came back."

The man shook his massive, stubbled head. "Night city is not a place one returns to, artiste..."

At the beginning of the book Case is a desperate junkie, living from deal to deal, spinning out a suicide trajectory of enough complexity that Ratz calls him the artiste. At the end of the book Case has money, is no longer pursued by any of his previous enemies, and is literally slumming when he stops by the bar. Ratz initially doesn't recognize him because he's changed, but more importantly recognizes that the new Case doesn't belong there any more.

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