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Mona Lisa Overdrive

by William Gibson

Mona Lisa Overdrive is the final volume in Gibson's "Sprawl" series. It is by far Gibson's most polished work-to-date, presenting a story, characterizations, and a pacing that is much more mature and controlled than his earlier work. This is both a blessing and a curse. It's like your favorite punk band becoming better musicians and craftier songsmiths album-by-album. Their talent may grow, but you may find yourself looking back in favor of earlier, rougher work. While one could feel a little of this reading Mona Lisa Overdrive, I personally found it a very worthy conclusion to "Neuromancer" and "Count Zero."

This book is a tight, smooth, glittering prize with numerous graceful passages. Here Gibson strikes a workable balance between his trademark data-dense descriptions and a deeper, thoughtful exploration of characters and situations. The story starts out with four different plot yarns that increasing interweave on their way to a seamless conclusion. Threads from the two previous books are picked up along the way and incorporated into the storyline. The possibilities for "ghosts in the machine" of cyberspace and auto-destructive art, two themes Gibson has touched on in the past, are magnified in Mona Lisa. (The character of Slick Henry, the robot-making artist was apparently inspired by San Francisco mechanical performance artist Mark Pauline.)

(G. Branwyn)



Mona Lisa Overdrive
William Gibson
Bantam Books, 1988

graphic: Joe Mayhew, SF Eye #1

Here is the TEXT POPUP for Mona Lisa Overdrive:

"There's no there, there." They taught that to children, explaining cyberspace. She remembered a smiling tutor's lecture in the arcology's executive creche, images shifting on a screen: pilots in enormous helmets and clumsy-looking gloves, the neuroelectronically primitive "virtual world" technology linking them more effectively with their planes, pairs of miniature video terminals pumping them a computer-generated flood of combat data, the vibrotactile feedback gloves providing a touch-world of studs and triggers...As the technology evolved, the helmets shrank, the video terminals atrophied.

The doctors at the clinic had used chemical pliers to pry the addiction from the receptor sites in her brain

A soapbox evangelist spread his arms high, a pale fuzzy Jesus copying his gestures in the air above him. The projection rig was in the box he stood on, but he wore a battered nylon pack with two speakers sticking over each shoulder like blank chrome heads. The evangelist frowned up at Jesus and adjusted something on the belt at his waist. Jesus strobed, turned green, and vanished. Mona laughed. The man's eye's flashed God's wrath, a muscle working his seamed cheek.


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© 1998 The Computer Lab
Gareth Branwyn -

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