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Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)

by William Gibson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sprawl (3)

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Excellent speculative/science fiction. William successfully predicted cyberspace before it was in vogue, or even possible, coining the term and idea of cyberpunk. ( )
  Marc_Mccune | Apr 11, 2016 |
Taking place eight years after the events of Count Zero and fifteen years after Neuromancer, the story is formed from several interconnecting plot threads, and also features characters from Gibson's previous works (such as Molly Millions, the razor-fingered mercenary street samurai from Neuromancer).

One of the plot threads concerns Mona, an innocent young prostitute who has a more-than-passing resemblance to famed Simstim superstar Angie Mitchell. Mona is hired by shady individuals for a "gig" which later turns out to be part of a plot to abduct Angie.

The second story focuses on a young Japanese girl named Kumiko, daughter of a Yakuza boss sent to London to keep her safe while her father engages in a gang war with other top Yakuza leaders. In London she is cared for by one of her father's retainers, who is also a powerful member of the London Mob. She meets Molly Millions (having altered her appearance and now calling herself "Sally Shears," in order to conceal her identity from hostile parties who are implied to be pursuing her), who takes the girl under her wing.

The third story thread follows a reclusive artist named Slick Henry, who lives in the "Rust Belt," a large, poisoned expanse of deserted factories and dumps somewhere between Cleveland and Chicago, and who is a convicted (and punished) car thief. As a result of the repetitive brainwashing nature of his punishment, he spends his days creating large robotic sculptures and periodically suffers episodes of time loss, returning to consciousness afterward with no memory of what he did during the blackout. He is hired by an acquaintance to look after the comatose "Count" (Bobby Newmark from the second novel, "Count Zero," who has hooked himself into a super-capacity cyber-harddrive called an Aleph). A theoretical "Aleph" would have the RAM memory capacity to literally contain all the data of reality. Enough that a memory construct of a person to contain the complete personality of the individual, and allow it to learn, grow and act independently. The final plot line follows Angela Mitchell, famous Simstim star and the girl from the second Sprawl novel Count Zero. Angie, thanks to brain manipulations by her father when she was a child, has always has had the ability to access cyberspace directly (without a cyberspace deck), but drugs provided by her production company Sense/Net have severely impeded this ability.

The story of the reclusive artist that makes cybernetic sculptures is a reference to Mark Pauline of Survival Research Labs.[1]
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
And the last of the Sprawl trilogy. You can see Gibson growing as a writer and you can see him knocking up against the limitations of cyberpunk - once you've left the meat behind and taken up residence in the matrix what is there for you to do? Yeah, he gives us an answer, but it's an answer that takes him out of his sphere of interest, out of the human, or even the post-human. Post-humanity's always been Bruce Sterling's thing, anyway. Gibson's fascination is with the present, the now, the fulcrum where people and technology turn and change and the wonderful, unexpected strangeness that is often utterly unpredictable.

Mona Lisa Overdrive - the Sprawl books have the best titles - rounds up the dangling threads from the first two books and weaves them together. Heck, it even gives Case an offhand happy ending. We have the daughter of a Yakuza boss sent to London for her own safety, where she meets a formidable woman with mirrors over her eyes, but not, apparently, retractable claws in her nails, which signifies some sort of growth and maturity, if not any actual aversion to swiftly delivered violence. Sally, Molly as was, is not and never has been and never will be a nice person. There is Mona, a sweet, naive, teenage junkie prostitute sold by her pimp to men who are interested in her resemblance to sim star Angie Mitchell. There's Angie Mitchell herself, saved by Turner in Count Zero, now a famous star just out of rehab. She used to be able to talk to the voodoo gods of cyberspace thanks to the bio-chips in her head, but they haven't come to her for years, and her boyfriend is missing and someone left drugs in her coat pocket. And Slick Henry, way out in the toxic junkyard of Dog Solitude, building his kinetic sculptures to deal with the prison program that leaves him susceptible to short-term memory loss, is asked by Kid Africa to look after a body wrapped in bandages and hooked up to a mysterious machine called an LF.

What's interesting is all the POV characters are innocents, even super-celebrity Angie. They've all suffered, used and abused by life, by others, by the system, by circumstances, and now forces they do not understand or comprehend are moving around them and coming for them, and often what saves them is their own lack of malice or cynicism. Others are mad, obsessive, violent and duplicitous, but these four just want to be themselves, whatever that might be.

A great book, a satisfying ending to a great, groundbreaking, decade-defining trilogy. These books are still the best way to re-experience the eighties, to remember the energy and the attitude, and, whatever bits of it we brought with us to the now, be glad they're left safely in the past. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
I've come to discover that I really don't like William Gibson's writing. I know why. Part of it is just that it's uninteresting. Strikes me as someone *trying* to sound like a writer. The other--main--issue is that white guys who write books full of derogatory/racist names for non-whites strike me as very inauthentic. This book is filled with those. The "default" is never slagged, but any Asian or black person has a racist nickname. Latinos are lucky to have been completely ignored in this book, even though Mexico is mentioned.

Some people may not have an issue with this. I don't care.


The story is very interesting and could have been very good had it been tied up better. The last few chapters were a lot of meandering and tedious "cleverness" that is never worthwhile. Such a shame, because I thought of 4 different and interesting endings that would have worked well with the author's sort of "cleverness". ( )
  fabooj | Feb 3, 2015 |
Great novel by a true scifi genius!
  CowboyBeBib | Sep 18, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gibson, WilliamAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arconada, José B.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bonnefoy, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cholewa, Piotr W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cormier, WilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Häilä, ArtoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kornya, ZsoltTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stone, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To my sister,
Fran Gibson,
with amazement and love...
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The ghost was her father's parting gift, presented by a black-clad secretary in a departure lounge at Narita.
The world hadn't ever had so many moving parts or so few labels. [Mona: 231]
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553281747, Mass Market Paperback)

Into the cyber-hip world of William Gibson comes Mona, a young girl with a murky past and an uncertain future whose life is on a collision course with internationally famous Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell. Since childhood, Angie has been able to tap into cyberspace without a computer. Now, from inside cyberspace, a kidnapping plot is masterminded by a phantom entity who has plans for Mona, Angie, and all humanity, plans that cannot be controlled...or even known. And behind the intrigue lurks the shadowy Yakuza, the powerful Japanese underworld, whose leaders ruthlessly manipulate people and events to suit their own purposes.

An over-the-top thrill ride sequel to Neuromancer and Count Zero.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:35 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Living in the vast computer landscape of cyberspace, young Mona taps into the mind of world-famous Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell who deciphers cyperspace plans, including those devised by Japanese underworld.

» see all 2 descriptions

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