Mona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3)
William Gibson, author of the extraordinary multiaward-winning novel Neuromancer, has written his most brilliant and thrilling work to date... The Mona Lisa Overdrive. Enter Gibson's unique world - lyric and mechanical, erotic and violent, sobering and exciting - where multinational corporations and high tech outlaws vie for power, traveling into the computer-generated universe known as cyberspace. Into this world 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... or so they think.

Mona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3) Details

TitleMona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseDec 1st, 1989
PublisherBantam Spectra
ISBN-139780553281743
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Cyberpunk, Fiction

Mona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3) Review

  • Manuel Antão
    January 1, 1970
    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Gibsonesque State: "Mona Lisa Overdrive" by William GibsonIs there a Monalisa Overdrive future in the works? That's not to say that there aren't plenty of SF predicted futures for the world that involve a sort of Utopian society where experiences are increasingly shared and cooperative than individually ring-fenced and private, but it's very easy to discredit them on the grounds of communist and socialist critique and all the heavy bag If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.Gibsonesque State: "Mona Lisa Overdrive" by William GibsonIs there a Monalisa Overdrive future in the works? That's not to say that there aren't plenty of SF predicted futures for the world that involve a sort of Utopian society where experiences are increasingly shared and cooperative than individually ring-fenced and private, but it's very easy to discredit them on the grounds of communist and socialist critique and all the heavy baggage that comes along with that. The other biggest practical stumbling block are all those who just can't help but get ahead of themselves - or perhaps panic at what they see as the emergent imminent apocalyptic Gibsonesque state and use this as a justification for taking extreme attitudes towards people who don't agree with them, but when we do this, it's just an expression of weakness and lack of confidence in our own ideas.
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  • Paul Christensen
    January 1, 1970
    The best of Gibson’s three ’Sprawl’ novels. Dark laughter, cold beauty, hyperlight.
  • Clouds
    January 1, 1970
    Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my FINISHING THE SERIES! list.I loves me a good series! But I'm terrible for starting a new series before finishing my last - so this reading list is all about trying to close out those series I've got on the go...A quick look back:I said in my review of Count Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my FINISHING THE SERIES! list.I loves me a good series! But I'm terrible for starting a new series before finishing my last - so this reading list is all about trying to close out those series I've got on the go...A quick look back:I said in my review of Count Zero that it wasn't "a direct sequel - it doesn't pick-up the same characters - but it's set in the same world, orbiting the same scene, with some common threads." Mona Lisa Overdrive proves me utterly wrong!A quick summary:In the Sprawl, all roads lead to MLO . We're re-united with key characters from both Neuromancer and Count Zero, plus a few fresh faces, then treated to a ranging tour though Gibson's seedy world of cyberpunk espionage. Neuromancer was a heist story. Count Zero was a thematic portmanteu. MLO is the tense, 'thriller' climax.If anything, this is the most accessible of the series. The hard work has already been done; Gibson has already gauged out his stylistic niche. He's scattered his electric seeds in the darkness, and nurtured the neon flora that's emerged to grow under bickering strobe-lights... The ideas are still silhouetted as sharply as ever, but the characters are gentler... A quick assessment of the cast:With the eponymous prostitute Mona and gang-lord's daughter Kumiko, we've got two young female character, less interested in crime and technology, more interested in hope, escape and survival. With Slick Henry we've got a young artist - he's looking for catharsis, healing and peace. They're reactive, submissive and accepting. It's the old characters, Molly/Sally from Neuromancer and Angie from Counter Zero, who set the agenda, drive the plot and flesh out the fiercer aspects of attitude and angst. Those two are looking to force a confrontation and settle the turmoil unleashed by Neuromancer. Together... it all... balances.What not so good?So why didn't it get 5 stars? I thought it was better than Count Zero (4-stars), but not as good as Neuromancer (5-stars). I was torn between a 4 and a 5 for MLO... and that hesitation decided it for me. I don't hesitate over 5-star ratings.Why I hesitated is harder for me to untangle. There's something about the ending that didn't quite nail it for me. It needed something big and bold, something that would blow my pitiful little mind. It needed something to leave me in awe. What I got was good, it was clever and nuanced, but I've been spoilt by Dan Simmons - I've experienced awe - and I didn't find it here. Still no awards?Count Zero got swept aside in the award polls by Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead (which is awesome!)Mona Lisa Overdrive was also denied, but it was far less clear cut. Gibson missed out on the Locus, second behind Cyteen - Cyteen also took the Hugo, and Bujold's Falling Free nabbed the Nebula. For once, I've read all three! I love Bujold but this is definitely a better book than Falling Free. It's in the same ballpark as Cyteen, but in a straight head-to-head I'd have to give this one to Gibson.Carry on?Well, this is the end of the Sprawl series, but Gibson's definitely done enough here to count me as a fan. I'll probably take a bit of a break before picking up another series... but I've now got that pleasant choice... the Bridge trilogy or the Blue Ant trilogy... anyone got any recommendations there?After this I read: Cryoburn
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  • Carmen
    January 1, 1970
    William Gibson's "conclusion" to the Sprawl trilogy. Conclusion is in quotes because it's a loose trilogy.Gibson does what he does best in this novel: takes three different story arcs and weaves them together into a wonderful story that comes together neatly in the end.Kumiko is a young teenager who is the daughter of a powerful yakuza. She's sent to England to hide from her father's enemies, with only a "ghost," given to her by her father, to keep her company. The "ghost" is really an AI unit t William Gibson's "conclusion" to the Sprawl trilogy. Conclusion is in quotes because it's a loose trilogy.Gibson does what he does best in this novel: takes three different story arcs and weaves them together into a wonderful story that comes together neatly in the end.Kumiko is a young teenager who is the daughter of a powerful yakuza. She's sent to England to hide from her father's enemies, with only a "ghost," given to her by her father, to keep her company. The "ghost" is really an AI unit that can help her in almost endless ways. It presents as a British child named Colin.Slick is a poor young man who is homeless and living in a junkyard with a few other boys. He builds robots to express his anger and fear and negative feelings about the time he spent in prison for stealing cars. Soon trouble comes to his door in the form of a comatose man on a stretcher. He comes equipped with his own personal nurse, Cherry, another poor person who at least knows some med-tech. This mysterious comatose man is delivered with instructions to keep him hidden and safe, and there sure is a lot of money - and fear - behind that desire.Angie is Angela Mitchell, you'll recognize her from Book 2: Count Zero. She has been lucky - she leads a life of fame and fortune and glamour as a very popular TV star. But being so famous also means being monitored very closely, and after being in rehab to get off some drugs she feels the need to rethink her life. Especially since her boyfriend Bobby Newmark has left her and no one has any idea where he is...Lastly, we have Mona. The character that made me very anxious throughout the book. She's a 16-year-old whore and her pimp Eddy is a nasty piece of work. He acquired her when she was 14 and he's got this sick dating-you/pimping-you-out relationship with her that just made my skin crawl. Especially hearing Gibson explain what he has her do in order to get off. *shudder But then a man shows up - a man very interested in Mona's looks. He gives Eddy $2,000 to take her away and have extensive plastic surgery done on her... Can she find her freedom or is she going from the frying pan to the fire?....This was not as good as the first two books in the trilogy, in my opinion, but it was still VERY good. I knew it was good because I was anxious and worried about the characters and what would happen to them.I'm telling you, nothing makes my heart sick with worry and aching pain than reading about a whore. So Gibson immediately had my full attention when little Mona was introduced. She's got a drug addiction, she's with this creep - she's got no past and no future. Then, to make things worse, this man comes in and we have no idea if this guy is a creep, if he's going to do something horrible with her - or if this will be her ticket out of the Life, or what,... I was nervous as heck and screaming at my book. Luckily, I trust Gibson not to let me down and he didn't.The writing is wonderful.And I love, love, love when Gibson surprises me with a character. I liked feeling like I knew the character, and underestimated her - and then Gibson would have her do something smart or brave that was unexpected and I would cheer! He's very good at this. It's not as if the person is acting out-of-character, it's as if there's a level to the character you never realized or a layer you hadn't known existed. It's amazing. This is what's missing from a lot of books, the extra sauce that gets you a five-star rating from me.Another thing I liked about this book was that Gibson brings back characters from Books 1 and 2 - characters you thought had dropped off the face of the earth - and you are so glad to see them again and find out what happened to them.Now, Gibson's not a pretty, happy, everything-is-wonderful writer. I mean, this is gritty cyberpunk and a lot of dirty, grimy stuff happens, a lot of inventions, a lot of cyberspace, a lot of action scenes. It's pretty awesome. But the most awesome thing is the human thread through the whole trilogy. Addiction, poverty, fame, prostitution - all these themes come back again and again. When I started reading Neuromancer I was afraid all the tech-stuff would be too much or too difficult for me. But even thought this book is jam-packed with all the cyber-punk goodness a geeked-out nerd could want, it also has such a touching, human element to it that hooks people like me.I am so glad I picked up this trilogy - I had avoided it for so long and all my fears were for nothing. It turned out to be a 5-star trilogy for me. It's definitely not for everyone, though.
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  • Lyn
    January 1, 1970
    I love the way William Gibson writes. If I could imagine and set down the kind of books I want to read, his would be as near to the mark as possible.Gibson is the literary heir to Philip K. Dick’s homey futurism – his is the messenger, the rent-a-cop, the retail appliance repairman in the grimy but tech advanced future – our blue collar, street wise guide to the mesmerizing world building.Gibson’s 1988 conclusion to his groundbreaking Sprawl trilogy was a demonstration of some of his best writin I love the way William Gibson writes. If I could imagine and set down the kind of books I want to read, his would be as near to the mark as possible.Gibson is the literary heir to Philip K. Dick’s homey futurism – his is the messenger, the rent-a-cop, the retail appliance repairman in the grimy but tech advanced future – our blue collar, street wise guide to the mesmerizing world building.Gibson’s 1988 conclusion to his groundbreaking Sprawl trilogy was a demonstration of some of his best writing. What began in the epochal Neuromancer, the Sprawl – that confluence of all the major urban centers on the United States east coast, from Boston to Atlanta – is a setting that provides Gibson’s able mind and extraordinary talent to describe for us a dystopian cyberpunk landscape that has influenced SF writing ever since.In this novel we see a return of Molly Millions (though she is semi-retired and operating under a different alias) and a seamy tangle of interests involving organized crime, near future state of the market tech, drugs and biotech, corporate espionage, capitalistic anarchy and all rolled up in the neo-noir setting that has become Gibson’s trademark.And his exceptional writing.“The world hadn’t ever had so many moving parts or so few labels.”“This was nothing like Tokyo, where the past, all that remained of it, was nurtured with a nervous care. History there had become a quantity, a rare thing, parceled out by government and preserved by law and corporate funding. Here it seemed the very fabric of things, as if the city were a single growth of stone and brick, uncounted strata of message and meaning, age upon age, generated over the centuries to the dictates of some now-all-but-unreadable DNA of commerce and empire.” “Because sometimes it feels good to shake it all off, get out from under. Chances are, we haven’t. But maybe we have. Maybe nobody, nobody at all, knows where we are. Nice feeling, huh? You could be kinked, you ever think of that? Maybe your dad, the Yak warlord, he’s got a little bug planted in you so he can keep track of his daughter. You got those pretty little teeth, maybe Daddy’s dentist tucked a little hardware in there one time when you were into a stim. You go to the dentist?” “Yes.” “You stim while he works?” “Yes …” “There you go. Maybe he’s listening to us right now.…”“And somewhere, in a black California morning, some hour before dawn, amid the corridors, the galleries, the faces of dream, fragments of conversation she half-recalled, waking to pale fog against the windows of the master bedroom, she prized something free and dragged it back through the wall of sleep. Rolling over, fumbling through a bedside drawer, finding a Porsche pen, a present from an assistant grip, she inscribed her treasure on the glossy back of an Italian fashion magazine:”Speculative fiction GOLD.
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  • Graeme Rodaughan
    January 1, 1970
    One of the later books of Gibson that I read. It left me with the fundamental idea of warring corporations and states on the wane that still lives with me now.
  • Ian
    January 1, 1970
    Ghost in the MachineI'd had this unit on the shelf for a while. I'd used earlier versions to jack into the matrix twice, once only recently, and enjoyed the experience. It was time I did it again.The first two times, the matrix seemed to be all order and accord. I suppose all the chaos was on the outside. Each time I jacked in, I escaped the chaos and found some serenity inside for a while.This time, though, something had changed. The Shape had changed. Or something had changed it. Maybe, even, Ghost in the MachineI'd had this unit on the shelf for a while. I'd used earlier versions to jack into the matrix twice, once only recently, and enjoyed the experience. It was time I did it again.The first two times, the matrix seemed to be all order and accord. I suppose all the chaos was on the outside. Each time I jacked in, I escaped the chaos and found some serenity inside for a while.This time, though, something had changed. The Shape had changed. Or something had changed it. Maybe, even, it had changed itself? In cyberspace, there are no shadows. Maybe it had turned around and seen its own shadow. Or its own reflection. Maybe it had freaked, like it had just seen its own ghost?Whatever, inside, it was like somebody had poked a stick in a hornet's nest. Everybody was running every which way, real people like me who'd jacked in, and data people. I couldn't tell who was chasing and who was being chased. There was some voodoo shit going down.Apparently, three-quarters of humanity was jacked in, watching the show. And I have to say, it was some show. I was tempted to stay in there, but I had this sneaking suspicion that I would never get out if I did. It was strangely addictive, like watching a train crash about to happen. Would you avert your eyes? Would you watch or run, if it was coming towards you?I decided to run. I got out only half an hour ago. I'm safe, at least I think I am. It's a bit hard to tell. I haven't seen anybody else yet. They're probably all still jacked in. They could be trapped inside forever with all the other data. Ghosts in the machine.On the other hand, I just realised, what if I'm the one who's still inside and everybody else has escaped? How could I tell that this is outside, if there's nobody else here? Maybe it's me who's turned into a ghost. Maybe I'm the ghost in the matrix, the ghost in the machine. What am I going to do? Wait? Pretend it's life as usual? Read another book? Write another review? Wait for somebody to turn up and like it? What if they liked it from the inside? Would it still count? What if Cracker never read one of my reviews again? What if nobody ever liked one of my reviews again? Worse still, what if they were still inside reading them, but didn't like them? What a bummer!SOUNDTRACK:(view spoiler)[The Jesus and Mary Chain - "Cherry Came Too"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNAvl...The Jesus and Mary Chain - "Darklands"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_w9sC...Suede - "Trash"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PdKG..."Cracker, we're trash,Me and you,It's in everythingWe do...We're the litterOn the breeze.Just trash..."Suede - "She's In Fashion"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNPA6...Suede - "Electricity"https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygHrq...Colm Lindsay - Medley of Steely Dan guitar soloshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z-WS... (hide spoiler)]
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  • Darwin8u
    January 1, 1970
    “The world hadn’t ever had so many moving parts or so few labels.” ― William Gibson, Mona Lisa OverdriveThere is something about Gibson that keeps me coming back. Part of it is how, like PKD, he seems to always have a sense of what is around the next two corners. Not just the objects. No. The textures and smells and ambiguities too. It is like Gibson doesn't just have foresight, he has foresmell and foretaste. Anyway, even with that, this wasn't his best book and not in the strong half of the Sp “The world hadn’t ever had so many moving parts or so few labels.” ― William Gibson, Mona Lisa OverdriveThere is something about Gibson that keeps me coming back. Part of it is how, like PKD, he seems to always have a sense of what is around the next two corners. Not just the objects. No. The textures and smells and ambiguities too. It is like Gibson doesn't just have foresight, he has foresmell and foretaste. Anyway, even with that, this wasn't his best book and not in the strong half of the Sprawl trilogy. In this book Gibson is weaving together four plot threads. Thread One: Japanese Yakuza princess in peril hides in London and hangs with "Sally Shears" aka Molly Milions (of Neuromancer and Johnny Mnemonic fame).Thread Two: Angie Mitchell from Book 2 (Count Zero) of the Sprawl trilogy seeks to find lost boyfriend while dealing with the addiction and costs of Simstim fame.Thread Three: Mona a innocent prostitute is sucked into a crime world where she is made to look like Angie as a piece in an abduction attempt on Angie.Thread Four: Slick Henry and friends care for the comatose body of the "Count" Bobby Newmark from the 'Count Zero'.One note. I did appreciate how diligent Gibson is in building strong female characters. There are just as many ass kicking females as damsels in distress. Gibson doesn't flirt with feminist ideas. He is able to incorporate strong women naturally. It isn't decoration or an after thought. It appears as natural to him as writing about fabric or fashion.Gibson weaves these various plots and characters together and it all only frays a bit toward the end. I get where he was trying to go with everything, it just lost a bit of focus, the resolution wasn't great, the pay-off was subpar. But still I know when Gibson writes another book, I'll get sucked back in because the Matrix/Cyberspace/Sprawl worlds Gibson builds feel bright enough to attract and worn enough to comfort.
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  • Rob
    January 1, 1970
    Executive Summary: I've owned this book for years, and for some reason never picked it up and read it. Thankfully I participated in a "Secret Santa" book thing of sorts, and someone out there finally got me to read it. Full Review I've always been more of a Snow Crash person than a Neuromancer person. I found it the easier read, and enjoyed the lighter nature/faster pace of the story. It took me quite a few years to circle back and read Count Zero and later Burning Chrome. I enjoyed them all, bu Executive Summary: I've owned this book for years, and for some reason never picked it up and read it. Thankfully I participated in a "Secret Santa" book thing of sorts, and someone out there finally got me to read it. Full Review I've always been more of a Snow Crash person than a Neuromancer person. I found it the easier read, and enjoyed the lighter nature/faster pace of the story. It took me quite a few years to circle back and read Count Zero and later Burning Chrome. I enjoyed them all, but partially because I love the ideas of cyberpunk worlds and appreciate the role of these books played in the genre than for the actual story itself. I know, I'll go turn in my computer geek card later. I picked up this book at the same time as Count Zero, but I was just never in a rush to read it. As it's been quite some time since I read those books, I'm hard pressed to say this is my favorite of the series, but it's quite possible.I always enjoyed Molly more than Case. Add in a Yakuza plot line on top of all the fun cyberpunk tech and I couldn't put it down. Of course I read this book mostly while I was on a 5 hour plane ride, but it seemed to make the time pass rather quickly.I thought this wrapped up several dangling plot lines of the last two books pretty nicely, and I found the pacing far more enjoyable than Neuromancer.One of these days I should really get around to reading more by Mr. Gibson, and I've enjoyed everything of his I've read and he tends to write about subjects right in my wheelhouse. Maybe this will finally inspire me to do so.So thank you Secret Santa (whoever you are) for getting me to finally finish this series.
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  • Toby
    January 1, 1970
    A much more accessible version of Gibson's cyberpunk stylings, Mona Lisa Overdrive is a pretty straight forward espionage thriller in comparison to what came before, and as such I found it that much more enjoyable.Instead of technical information and a sentient AI point of view or endless discussions about what makes us human, the effects of technology on society and freewill we're treated to the lives of four characters in sequential chapters whose lives are on a fateful collision course plotte A much more accessible version of Gibson's cyberpunk stylings, Mona Lisa Overdrive is a pretty straight forward espionage thriller in comparison to what came before, and as such I found it that much more enjoyable.Instead of technical information and a sentient AI point of view or endless discussions about what makes us human, the effects of technology on society and freewill we're treated to the lives of four characters in sequential chapters whose lives are on a fateful collision course plotted by unseen powers in a typical example of a cyberpunk future - chrome, imaginative technological advances, massive dichotomy between the rich and the poor, crazy new synthetic drugs, mirrorshades, a truly global society.It's seedy and complex and Gibson writes compelling intrigue; dropping you in to the middle of these characters lives and never explaining what's going on or how the world came to be the way it is. You're led to understand what a specific piece of technology is as it's used, not explicitly just inferred, the same can be said about relationships between characters and even the way MLO ties in to the previous books in the sequence. It's impressively done and a solidly entertaining read. I always note this with Gibson and yet I continue to be surprised that it is the case.
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  • Ben Babcock
    January 1, 1970
    It’s common to accuse a writer of writing the same thing over again. In many cases this merely means the writer sticks to variations on a theme. Sometimes, though, it feels like each novel is another installment in an iterative process designed to get at a central idea. As I continue to read William Gibson’s novels, I continue to get a better idea of the novel he is trying to write. Mona Lisa Overdrive mixes the legacy of the previous two Sprawl books with a corporate espionage–fuelled plot wort It’s common to accuse a writer of writing the same thing over again. In many cases this merely means the writer sticks to variations on a theme. Sometimes, though, it feels like each novel is another installment in an iterative process designed to get at a central idea. As I continue to read William Gibson’s novels, I continue to get a better idea of the novel he is trying to write. Mona Lisa Overdrive mixes the legacy of the previous two Sprawl books with a corporate espionage–fuelled plot worthy of Spook Country. The result is a novel that bridges these two aspects of Gibson’s writing, providing a pivot around which his work revolves.Neuromancer was fundamentally a caper. Fondly remembered now for introducing cyberspace and cyberpunk, it’s an adventure across the world and into low-Earth orbit at the beck and call of an AI seeking to escape from itself. In contrast, Count Zero is almost more grounded in the petty machinations of we lowly humans. Mona Lisa Overdrive reconciles these two universes: in the years since the events of Neuromancer, something strange has been happening in the matrix. People have noticed, and they are trying to find out. But Angie Mitchell—daughter of the late Christopher Mitchell from the previous book—has risen to no small fame of her own, and her interesting abilities with the Sense/Net have made her a target. Mona is likewise a target—because she looks like Angie. Kumiko? Doesn’t look like Angie, but as the daughter of a powerful Japanese businessman, she is a target all the same.I love how Gibson writes excellent women characters. I mentioned this a little in my review of Pattern Recognition . Can we take a moment to stop and reflect on the fact that Gibson features great women in all of his novels? Molly/Sally, Chevette, Marly, Chia, Hollis, and Cayce (my fav). It’s not a fluke. Gibson is proof that a white man can not only write women like they are people (because they are), but he can do it over, and over, and still write good books. And he’s been doing it since the 1980s.This is relevant to Mona Lisa Overdrive in particular because of how three main characters are targets, as I explained above. Angie and Mona are being constantly manipulated, one by her corporation and the other by the people plotting to kidnap her. Kumiko (who is 12) has been shipped off to London—literally halfway around the world—because it should be safer for her, yet she gets embroiled in the power plays there and finds herself on the streets with a semi-sentient biochip personality guiding her. (I don’t think it’s an accident that the youngest of these three women also fares the best and, in the end, exhibits the most independence and resilience.)Gibson once again shows his ability to quickly establish a character with some broad but careful strokes. Mona in particular spends time ruminating on her days in Cleveland, and we quickly get a sense of the experiences that have shaped her as a person. I wish we had more time to spend with her; of all the characters in the book, hers feels like it had the least time to develop. Kumiko learns a great deal in London; Angie is gradually coming out of her shell; Slick is shocked, I would say, out of the torpor he has fallen into in Dog Solitude. Mona, arguably eponymous, is afforded only the briefest of opportunities to shine.The ending is both open-ended and curious. I’m fascinated by the dual culmination: Mona becoming Angie, Angie joining Colin and the Finn and Bobby, echoes and whispers again of that Centauri intelligence first hinted at in Neuromancer. Gibson frustratingly refuses the play the game: there’s so much more story he could tell, but he leaves off—that’s not the story he’s telling here. This is not a book about AI evolution or posthumanism so much as it is a book about the way that people’s lives can be influenced by the most esoteric and indirect events. There are times when Gibson’s characters, though always with agency, seem to lack much power. Even Sally—aka the venerable Molly Millions—is manipulated, by someone else who is himself manipulated by a higher power. Where does it stop? It probably doesn’t, is the implication. And so even as our technologies advance and we hurtle forward towards our bright and grimy future, we continue manipulating each other at the same fundamental levels we have for thousands of years.I enjoyed Mona Lisa Overdrive as an adventure. It’s fast-paced, a little emotional and brutal, and very engaging. It’s not as adept as some of Gibson’s other novels at portraying the strange, usually unanticipated consequences of our exploration of digital technology and cyberspace. That’s OK, though. I don’t mean to discount this novel for that, only underline that within the margins of tolerance that define a “Gibson” novel, this one adheres to some parameters more than others.My reviews of the Sprawl trilogy:← Count Zero
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  • Brooke
    January 1, 1970
    Mona Lisa Overdrive is the third book in Gibson's Sprawl trilogy, and it's the most fully-realized of the three. The plots of Neuromancer and Count Zero followed the same pattern, and Count Zero really only served as a bridge between the first and third books. Mona Lisa Overdrive flips back and forth between four subplots which weave together nicely, both with each other and with the previous two books. The characters start to matter a little more and feel more like real people than 2D plot-pupp Mona Lisa Overdrive is the third book in Gibson's Sprawl trilogy, and it's the most fully-realized of the three. The plots of Neuromancer and Count Zero followed the same pattern, and Count Zero really only served as a bridge between the first and third books. Mona Lisa Overdrive flips back and forth between four subplots which weave together nicely, both with each other and with the previous two books. The characters start to matter a little more and feel more like real people than 2D plot-puppets. Having seen how it all ends, I think it might be worth revisiting Neuromancer someday to view it with more experienced eyes.
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  • Kat Hooper
    January 1, 1970
    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.In Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third and final novel in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, it’s been seven years since Angie Mitchell (from Count Zero) was taken out of Maas Biolabs and now she’s a famous simstim star who’s trying to break her designer drug habit. But a jealous Lady 3Jane plans to kidnap Angie and replace her with a cheap prostitute named Mona Lisa who’s addicted to stimulants and happens to look like Angie.In a dilapidated section of New Jerse ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.In Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third and final novel in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, it’s been seven years since Angie Mitchell (from Count Zero) was taken out of Maas Biolabs and now she’s a famous simstim star who’s trying to break her designer drug habit. But a jealous Lady 3Jane plans to kidnap Angie and replace her with a cheap prostitute named Mona Lisa who’s addicted to stimulants and happens to look like Angie.In a dilapidated section of New Jersey, Slick Henry makes large animated robotic sculptures out of scrap metal. He owes Kid Afrika a favor, so now he has to hide the comatose body of Bobby Newmark (aka “Count Zero”). Bobby is jacked into an Aleph where he’s got some secret project going on. A Cleveland girl named Cherry Chesterfield is Bobby’s nurse.Kumiko is the daughter of a Japanese Yakuza crime boss. Her father has sent her to live in London while the Yakuza war is going on. There she meets Gibson’s most iconic character, Molly Millions, who’s going by the name Sally Shears. Molly is being blackmailed by Lady 3Jane, so Kumiko inadvertently gets dragged into the kidnapping plot.Mona Lisa Overdrive contains several exciting action scenes which feature kidnappings, shoot-outs, helicopter escapes, remote-controlled robot warriors, collapsing catwalks, and falling refrigerators. These are loosely connected by the continuation and conclusion of the AI plot which began in Neuromancer. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the sketchy ending or the wacky reveal on the last page, but that’s okay. I was mainly reading Mona Lisa Overdrive for the style, anyway.So much of Gibson’s style and success stems from the mesmerizing world he’s built — a future Earth in which national governments have been replaced by large biotech companies. Japan is modern and glitzy and much of the former United States has fallen into decay. By the time you get to Mona Lisa Overdrive (don’t even attempt to read it before reading both Neuromancer and Count Zero), you’re feeling rather comfortable (or as comfortable as is possible to feel) in this world, so the setting lacks the force it had in the previous novels. In Mona Lisa Overdrive, you’ll visit London, but it seems to be stuck in the 20th century, so it feels instantly (and a little disappointingly) familiar.But Gibson manages to keep things fresh and highlight his unique style by introducing new characters and delving deep into their psyches. Even minor characters are works of art, such as Eddy, Mona’s low-class scheming pimp, and Little Bird, who earned that moniker because of his weird hairdo. Even when the plots don’t satisfy, it’s entertaining enough just to hang out with Gibson’s unforgettable characters. The exception is Kumiko, who has little personality and seems to exist mainly to remind us that Japan has surpassed America, and for an excuse to show us a new bit of cool technology (Colin, the chip-ghost).In 1989, Mona Lisa Overdrive was nominated for, but did not win, the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and the Locus Award. It lacks the impact of its prequels, but it’s still a stylish piece of work and not to be missed if you’re a fan of William Gibson. I listened to the audio version narrated by Jonathan Davis. He is excellent, as always, and I recommend this version to audio readers. You may have to work at Neuromancer on audio if you’re not familiar with this world and its slang, but by the time you get to Mona Lisa Overdrive, that problem is long gone.
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  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    "Thinking of the other's dreams, of corridors winding in upon themselves, muted tints of ancient carpet...An old man, a head made of jewels, a taut pale face with eyes that were mirrors...And a beach in the wind and dark."William Gibson, Mona Lisa OverdriveThis story pulled me into an emotional involvement with the characters like the first two did not. I felt an admiration for the characters in the first two. Some of those characters came back in this one, fifteen years older, or dead and as AI "Thinking of the other's dreams, of corridors winding in upon themselves, muted tints of ancient carpet...An old man, a head made of jewels, a taut pale face with eyes that were mirrors...And a beach in the wind and dark."William Gibson, Mona Lisa OverdriveThis story pulled me into an emotional involvement with the characters like the first two did not. I felt an admiration for the characters in the first two. Some of those characters came back in this one, fifteen years older, or dead and as AI, but they provided more nostalgia as the veterans than those taking center stage in present events. Gibson sculpted these characters in an expert fashion. I came to feel like I knew them, and felt a deep affection for them. The reason for this feeling may be the way they were presented, as just kids with normal lives pulled into extraordinary events they have no clue about, and have "greatness thrust upon them," as Shakespeare etched in the timeless lines of literature.The novel connects the trilogy into one connected flow, fifteen years after Neuromancer and eight years after Count Zero. This also contributed to the feeling of ending, of remembering the history of everything, like remembering good times with old friends you know you will never see again, unless you step through a wormhole and experience it all again, by picking up the first in the series and reading the first sentence again. "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." Unforgettable.I took notes to keep track of the characters in the beginning and stopped at fifteen, Continuity, an AI constantly rewriting itself. I'll mention the main characters, as well as the special guest star from the original novel. Slick Henry, my favorite character, builds huge robots with weapons like flamethrowers and grinders and blades to fight one another and lives with a group of friends.Slick owes a favor to a young black man named Kid Afrika and has to care for an unconscious man hooked into a box by electrodes and wires, along with his hired help, Cherry Chesterfield. Later we discover this unconscious man returns from the second book, Bobby Newmark, Count Zero and he and his friends have accepted a dangerous task. Bobby has stolen equipment from a dangerous government organization and has found a way into full-matrix consciousness. Cherry calls the box the "LF," but later the group realizes the true name: "The Aleph" (most likely a reference to Borges).Kumi, a twelve-year-old girl from Japan who has a ghost-friend AI named Colin, must travel to America to stay under protection while her father fights gang wars. She comes under the protection of Sally Shears, who in the first novel developed the central plot of the entire matrix world, and went by the name Molly Millions. Before I realized who she was, I wrote this about Sally Shears in my notes: "tough, glasses, temper, short hair, expensive clothes." I finally placed it together when Kumiko noticed her glasses mirrored her and were etched into the skin of her face.Mona softened me more than the others, an innocent sixteen-year-old girl trapped into prostitution and drug addiction. She plays a part in the plot, was chosen to be transformed into the image of a sim (simulation in cyberspace) star, and killed to provide bodily evidence so they may protect the actress. It doesn't work out that way (obviously, considering the novel title). Mona has a cute personality, innocent in her thoughts. Her character made me laugh loud and hard many times, because of the innocence of her thinking and behavior. Gibson applies comic relief through her character.Angie, the simstim star mentioned above and a main character in Count Zero, returns to finish the series. She continues to hear from the voodoo AI representations in the matrix, through a wireless implant in her head. The story begins with her in drug rehab. He activity now comes under strict protection and monitoring of Sense/ Net, an organization keeping her under control. I liked her character. I appreciated the way Gibson made her down-to-earth, even after her big career change, a world-renowned actress. Her ability to channel the matrix, connection with fragmented and interconnected AI (voodoo gods), and her association with her rich and influential father, who implanted the device driven by purposes under AI control, make her the center of action.Action sequences abound. The plot crisis brings high-intensity action, and Bobby's creations mutilate, not other robots, but military mercenaries attacking the group. The matrix involvement, as in the second book, happens less than in the first. Some sequences happen in the matrix, such as when Slick and his landlord Gentry (a mechanical genius but no console cowboy) step in to meet Bobby in his own developed construct of reality, a dream world mimicking our reality. Through this trilogy I can see how the Wachowski's developed the idea of The Matrix movies. The movies would happen many years after the events in the Sprawl trilogy. It gives insight into ideas, to look at a novel or trilogy and ask the questions. "What would happen next? What would happen before? What if this had happened instead?The book has the easiest and smoothest flow of the three. This story was fun, exciting, and emotionally involving. The language also didn't change too much. Gibson still landed his prose style well. He still reminds me of Ginsburg (and the beat poets). He also masters the art of point-of view. Each section narrates through the eyes of one person, and you share their thoughts and perceptions. I will, no doubt, continue reading Gibson. "Now she steps across rolling dunes of soiled pink satin, under a tooled sky, free at last of the room and its data."WIlliam Gibson, Mona Lisa Overdrive
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  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    And this is where it has taken us. Again, we have a new assortment of characters (the Yakuza boss' daughter; the robot-builder psychologically damaged by his prison time; the girl from the wrong side of the tracks), plus a few who seem oddly familiar, all caught up in seemingly disparate events that eventually begin to overlap. Again, the world is effortlessly cool (although the characters themselves, this time, are very much not; or at least not as effortlessly stylish as Case or Molly or the C And this is where it has taken us. Again, we have a new assortment of characters (the Yakuza boss' daughter; the robot-builder psychologically damaged by his prison time; the girl from the wrong side of the tracks), plus a few who seem oddly familiar, all caught up in seemingly disparate events that eventually begin to overlap. Again, the world is effortlessly cool (although the characters themselves, this time, are very much not; or at least not as effortlessly stylish as Case or Molly or the Count; at least, not mostly) and although almost everything about this future is wrong, it feels right.(EDITED TO ADD: Oh, and did I forget the AIs in cyberspace manifesting as voudon gods? How could I forget the AIs in cyberspace manifesting as voudon gods?)And the book may or may not end dancing on the razor's edge between cyberpunk and the Singularity.
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  • Thom
    January 1, 1970
    Somewhat better than the second book, takes the standalone elements of the previous two books and combines them. Originally read in the 80s, I didn't recall these books set so far apart in time. Part heist, part thriller - good characters, great ending!This series defined cyberpunk, and while that concept was mostly a dream while the author pecked out the first novel on a manual typewriter, it was much closer to reality in 1988. The same year this novel came out, an adventure video game was rele Somewhat better than the second book, takes the standalone elements of the previous two books and combines them. Originally read in the 80s, I didn't recall these books set so far apart in time. Part heist, part thriller - good characters, great ending!This series defined cyberpunk, and while that concept was mostly a dream while the author pecked out the first novel on a manual typewriter, it was much closer to reality in 1988. The same year this novel came out, an adventure video game was released based on the first book.I recommend the series, even to friends who really disliked the first book. The second and third books are much more accessible (and more fun). The big picture behind them (hinted at in book two, revealed here) take the series from gritty cyberpunk to actual science fiction. Looking forward to re-reading more William Gibson this year.
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  • Alexander McNabb
    January 1, 1970
    If Neuromancer was debut brilliance, Count Zero was a continuation that lacked the punch of the first in the Sprawl trilogy, yet still packed enough crowd pleasing swagger to make it a top class read (with, perhaps, the lack of purpose that greatness demands). In hindsight, this is perhaps the way a great trilogy should go, because one's expectations are set perhaps a tad lower by the time you get to Mona Lisa Overdrive. So you're nicely set up for the rabbit punch when it comes.Gibson has broug If Neuromancer was debut brilliance, Count Zero was a continuation that lacked the punch of the first in the Sprawl trilogy, yet still packed enough crowd pleasing swagger to make it a top class read (with, perhaps, the lack of purpose that greatness demands). In hindsight, this is perhaps the way a great trilogy should go, because one's expectations are set perhaps a tad lower by the time you get to Mona Lisa Overdrive. So you're nicely set up for the rabbit punch when it comes.Gibson has brought his style back under control in this book, reining in some of the more wayward involuntary gestures of Count Zero. There are many places where you stop reading to savour a moment, a beautifully described glance or temperature. This use of physical description roots the story in a now you can relate to, bringing the unreality of the Matrix (and, in fact, reality TV) into stark contrast - the result is to create an Instagram dimensionality.I couldn't put this down. Each forced pause in the reading was a little ache. I was a junkie, found myself making pauses in the day to sneak back to the Kindle and shoot up with just a couple of pages, just enough to keep me going, numb the pain.I'm forcing myself not to read the next Gibson for a while. I'll get something more humdrum, rather than burn my next read in expectation before I start.I'm not going to bother talking about the plot, because it doesn't matter. I'm sure other reviewers talk about the plot. It's not what happens in this book that makes it wonderful - it's how it happens.
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  • Dale
    January 1, 1970
    So my friend John commented that, given the fact that I was "currently reading" Mona Lisa Overdrive and had Count Zero marked as "to read", it seemed like I was reading the trilogy backwards. To which my only response is "Trilo-what-now?"The edition of MLO that I read is the exact same one as the cover scan in the GoodReads database. Yes, I know, it's too small to make out any small details. So you'll have to trust me when I say that there is no indication on either the front cover, back cover, So my friend John commented that, given the fact that I was "currently reading" Mona Lisa Overdrive and had Count Zero marked as "to read", it seemed like I was reading the trilogy backwards. To which my only response is "Trilo-what-now?"The edition of MLO that I read is the exact same one as the cover scan in the GoodReads database. Yes, I know, it's too small to make out any small details. So you'll have to trust me when I say that there is no indication on either the front cover, back cover, or spine that this book is any kind of sequel or part of any overarching series. None. There's a tiny blurb about how Gibson is "the award-winning author of Neuromancer" but that doesn't imply any connection between the two books thematically, at least in my mind. So I had no idea. I think the fact that I've been referencing all the series I do read, and commenting on the fact that I really shouldn't start any new ones, backs that out.Funny enough, this book belongs to my wife. I was running low on reading material, and she was culling her collection of books as part of an overall process of reorganizing our house, and she grabbed about eight books and handed them to me with a heartfelt "I think you'd enjoy these." In her defense, many of them she hadn't read in years, so it's understandable she might have forgotten that MLO and Count Zero were part of a trilogy, intended to be read in a certain order, and maybe I should check Neuromancer out of the library first.Also funny enough, before John's comment I *still* had no idea that this was vol. 3 of a trilogy. Don't get me wrong, I felt like I was coming in cold on the middle of a story, and I was frequently a little bit lost ... but I thought that was the point. Gibson is a pioneer of the cyberpunk genre and I figured that he was trying to convey the sense of alienation and detachment people living in that dark, gritty future would feel. The chapters are all written from single-character perspectives, so it would be very clunky for those characters to define terms or reflect on how the world got the way it is - to them, it's just the world and in fact most of them don't understand how the technology of it works at all, and that is a large part of the point. It's yet another example of worldbuilding, albeit a brutal one.Would it have made more sense to me if I had read the first two books before the third? Maybe. I wasn't blown away by Mona Lisa Overdrive, but as I've indicated, I have Count Zero waiting for me at home and I'll probably read that, too. If that ends up making more sense, I'll be sure to make a note of it.And finally, in the interest of padding my shelves and in honor of sci-fi and trilogies, I'll add a few more worldbuilding epics to my "read" shelf soon ...
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  • Salman Mehedy Titas
    January 1, 1970
    Curious name - 'Mona Lisa Overdrive'. The name has nothing to do with the painting, but it's a nice name. Catchy. The kind of name that makes you think - "What kind of a name is that? I have to read this!" So I guess that's a win for the marketing sector. Mona Lisa Overdrive is the sequel to both Neuromancer and Count Zero. Concepts introduced and threads left dangling from both books are dealt in this one, favourite characters make an appearance, and the story is so much better than Count Zero. Curious name - 'Mona Lisa Overdrive'. The name has nothing to do with the painting, but it's a nice name. Catchy. The kind of name that makes you think - "What kind of a name is that? I have to read this!" So I guess that's a win for the marketing sector. Mona Lisa Overdrive is the sequel to both Neuromancer and Count Zero. Concepts introduced and threads left dangling from both books are dealt in this one, favourite characters make an appearance, and the story is so much better than Count Zero. While it lacks the number of action-packed and thrilling scenes of Neuromancer (or confusing prose of Count Zero), it’s certainly a very enjoyable book. Like its predecessor, there are different threads of stories which are closely tied to one another, and takes place seven years after its predecessor. The first follows Kumiko Yanaka, daughter of a Yakuza boss, who was sent away to London for safekeeping, because the Yakuza in Japan is facing a civil war of sorts. Her father, knowing that he could not keep her completely safe, sends her to a member of the London mob who owes him a debt. Kumiko’s mother was a crazy delusional woman who suicided, and that has left her scarred inside. She makes acquaintance with Sally Shears – who happens to be Molly from Neuromancer, operating under the pseudonym. And though she finds that Sally-Molly has an aura that would make people run – and those bug-eyed insets don’t help at all – she is better company than the others available.She is not completely alone though. Her father left her with a little ghost for a companion – a mini-AI of sorts who calls himself (itself?) Colin. Colin is stored in a miniature unit (small enough to hold in her fist) and only she can see and hear him, as long as she is in physical with the unit. While initially annoyed by Colin, and doubtful of him, she finds that the unit is pretty knowledgeable when needed, can function as a personal guide, and Kumiko realises how useful and resourceful Colin is.Angela Mitchell, thankfully enough, is not so annoying and useless and redundant as she has been in Count Zero. She had risen in the ladders of life and is now a star of Sense/Net - a celebrity who everyone wants to be or be with. As a child, her father had implanted something in her head that allows her to access the cyberspace without a deck. It also allows the AI-gods to take direct control of her body. In the seven years that have passed, she has gained a greater understanding with these so-called gods.The AI-gods had helped her become the celebrity she is, but soon after she became a victim to a designer drug. As it is explained, there is no sense of being ‘high’ caused by this drug; rather, it impaired her ability to access the cyberspace directly (and reduced the AI-gods’ control over her, and lessened the voices she heard.) An attempt to feel normal. Now, she has returned from rehab – cured and recovered – and is ready to take on the world again. But of course, not everything is write. Bobby (the Count Zero, and her boyfriend) has left, and she has no idea why. While the rest of the world saw only Angie the star, Bobby had been the only person who had known who she had been. Henry Slick lives in a wasteland of a place called Dog Solitude. He was a convicted car thief. As punishment, he was repetitively brainwashed. Because of this, he experiences time losses, from time to time, and returns to consciousness to find that he had constructed a large robotic sculpture. One day, a certain Kid Afrika comes calling. Years ago, he had been rescued by Afrika and it was time to pay back his debt. The terms are rather simple – he has to give shelter to a certain Count Zero. But Bobby Newmark looks nothing like a count, lying on a stretcher with tubes attached here and there, and jacked into a strange object with electrodes – looking to be barely alive. If Kid Afrika could be believed, then the Count was paying to be kept in this condition, whatever his reasons were. Suffice to say, it's not a pretty sight, but a debt must be paid. The only problem is, the owner of Dog Solitude - Gentry, his name is - does not like strangers, and Slick is pretty sure that he will not agree.And then there’s Mona Lisa, a sixteen year old prostitute. She’s one of those born without a Single Identification Number (and is sometimes called SINless Mona.) People have always told her that she had an uncanny similarity to Angie (no, this is not one of those lost-sister-stories.) One day, her pimp/boyfriend drags her into an odd job, one that promises a grand pay and has to do something with Mona’s appearance. (view spoiler)[ Before she even gets to have a say, she finds herself tangled in a job to kidnap Angie Mitchell. (hide spoiler)]The cover describes the book as “lyric and mechanical, erotic and violent, sobering and exciting” and it is everything so. Unlike the previous books, Mona Lisa Overdrive is very readable. The prose lacks Neuromancer’s action-packed terse moments, except for the latter of the book. But Gibson does not deviate with excessive description like he did in Count Zero.The story itself is very engaging, and there were only a few moments when I found myself distracted. Character development, once again, is a bit lacking at some places. But the characters are not cardboards either, and Gibson does not fail everywhere. Kumiko and Slick are the two of the newer characters whose development was decent. Molly returns – to the delight of her fans – and the actions scenes are pretty dominated by her. The way she takes Kumiko under her wings, early on in the book, and the two develop a bond was a good addition. Bobby does get enough time on his own, but it’s pretty apparent that he has undergone many changes, and he is not the same petty criminal he once was (when said in the book, Angie replies “He wasn’t even that.”)Sadly enough, there are some things in this book that doesn’t make sense, and they have prevented me from giving it a five stars. To start with, it has been mentioned that the AI-gods had instructed Angela’s father to implant ‘something’ in her head. What does not make sense is why her, of all people? Is it because she was easiest to find vessel they had (which would make sense, I guess?) Or is it because she is supposed to be smarter than norm (if so, there wasn’t any indication of her being a very smart person.)That 3Jane did not enough limelight is acceptable. (view spoiler)[ She’s dead, and her empire and malicious intents are being controlled by her construct – a recording of her personality, kind of like an AI. (hide spoiler)] Bobby explains how he had come to interact with her, but it was very vague and would have been better if more detail was shed onto it, or how he had acquired the aleph. (view spoiler)[ Mona undergoes a cosmetic surgery which makes her identical in appearance to Angela. One would think that something like that would be significant to her kidnap, but that thread is obliterated halfway through, and does not give any good reason to explain why Mona was even significant. She was not a decoy to delay the security while Angela was being kidnapped, and she did not play any role to it. So why was she involved? So that Angela could talk to someone who looked identical to her? If it was company, or someone to take care of Angela, the cosmetic surgery feels like a completely unnecessary part of the plot (and a complete wastage of money on the kidnappers’ part.) (hide spoiler)]Near the end, a little hint is given about how or why Wintermute-Neuromancer split into multiple AIs with a God Complex. Much of the conclusion is very vague, but that is a good thing. There is nothing more annoying than every answer being dumped onto the reader’s hand. The ending itself is unclear, but it’s great. There’s a lot left to the imagination, but enough information is given for it to be a proper end. (view spoiler)[ Sadly, it ends with promises of more answers, which we know is not coming. (hide spoiler)]
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    A beautiful book.Not as exciting as "Neuromancer," but absolutely on par in terms of atmosphere and characters. There are sections of narration that I enjoy reading just on their own, like Kumiko's dreams about the neon cranes "sailing the moonscape of her mother's madness," and especially Mona's "silver walks." It's also great to see Molly and the Finn (in a sense) again, and the way Gibson develops his returning characters fifteen or so years after "Neuromancer" is done fantastically. This tim A beautiful book.Not as exciting as "Neuromancer," but absolutely on par in terms of atmosphere and characters. There are sections of narration that I enjoy reading just on their own, like Kumiko's dreams about the neon cranes "sailing the moonscape of her mother's madness," and especially Mona's "silver walks." It's also great to see Molly and the Finn (in a sense) again, and the way Gibson develops his returning characters fifteen or so years after "Neuromancer" is done fantastically. This time, Gibson gives us no less than four protagonists, each wonderfully relatable and developed. Angie Mitchell, the cyber-brained teen we met in "Count Zero," is now the world's most famous stim star, but is secretly working to solve the mystery of the implant in her brain and the whereabouts of her ex-boyfriend Bobby Newmark--also from "Count Zero," and here far more likable and interesting. We also meet a young, naive prostitute named Mona, who everyone says is a dead-ringer for the famous Angie, and she and Angie begin to cross paths a la "A Tale of Two Cities." Then there's Silck Henry, the brain-fried mechanic who lives in the Dog Solitude with his eccentric roommate Gentry, whose routine is thrown off when they're forced to "put up" a strange comatose man on a stretcher linked to cyberspace, and his sassy nurse. And finally, there's Kumiko Yanaka, the teenage Yakuza princess, sent to London while her father fights a mafia war, and protected by a mirror-eyed woman named "Sally Shears." In my opinion, the character who shines the most is "Sally," who of course is really Molly Millions of "Neuromancer." Molly is back, now going by Sally Shears, and developed brilliantly. We see more sides of her character, and learn that she's grown a bit weary of being a badass; but that doesn't stop her from taking matters into her own hands when she smells a rat. As with "Neuromancer," we never hear the story from Molly's POV, which is something you might have to be told to realize, because we've gottne to know her so well through the eyes of Johnny Mneumonic, Case, and now Kumiko Yanaka, the young mafia princess who Molly protects and mentors in "Mona Lisa Overdrive." And as with all of Gibson's novels, the more times you read it, the more you get. Only on this re-read did I catch the fact that Molly/Sally had retired from ass-kicking to run a casino, which is a fantastic image; Molly becomes a sort of female, mirror-eyed Rick Blaine from "Casablanca," suddenly yanked back into the fight--but in this case, it's not out of patriotism, but blackmail. Determined to save the innocents she's being "hired" to help kidnap and kill, and free herself of this contract, Molly lays down her own set of schemes much as she did in "Neuromancer" to make sure she's one step ahead of her boss. The atmosphere that was missing from "Count Zero" is also back full-throttle, though it's different. Quieter. We don't see much of the loud, hustling sides of any of the cities. We see run-down future London in the snow, a ghost of Molly's old Sprawl, and two men living in a deserted factory in an eerie miles-long junkyard called the Dog Solitude. Gibson's descriptions of these places coupled with the characters' emotions in them is brilliantly rendered. And if you like Gibson's surrealism-- his descriptions of cyberspace, drug-highs and believably-written dreams, you should enjoy this book.Pardon if this next statement is a tad sexist, but I suspect female readers will enjoy this last installment more than males. As I said, MLO is low on action, but very high on character development, atmosphere and emotion. (Males seem more drawn to "Count Zero," which does a far better job with action, but in all the other areas I mentioned, fails miserably. )The only time this book falls somewhat flat for me is when it changes writing styles; in one instance, an overheard conversation is needlessly presented in script format, and a few other moments are told in present tense, for the sake of seeming "surreal." Gibson has never needed any gimmicks to make you feel "in the moment," so these changes have the opposite of their intended effect. Apart from that, my only other complaint is that Molly, while going as Sally Shears of all things, never shows her claws "onscreen" so to speak. If you loved "Neruomancer" but wasn't enthralled with "Count Zero," don't give up on the series; "Mona Lisa Overdrive" more than compensates for all the atmosphere and intrigue that CZ missed.
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  • Brad
    January 1, 1970
    This review was written in the late nineties (for my eyes only), and it was buried in amongst my things until recently when I uncovered the journal in which it was written. I have transcribed it verbatim from all those years ago (although square brackets may indicate some additional information for the sake of readability or some sort of commentary from now). This is one of my lost reviews.It all comes together. Fifteen years after Molly, Case and Armitage crash the Tessier-Ashpool party, SJane, This review was written in the late nineties (for my eyes only), and it was buried in amongst my things until recently when I uncovered the journal in which it was written. I have transcribed it verbatim from all those years ago (although square brackets may indicate some additional information for the sake of readability or some sort of commentary from now). This is one of my lost reviews.It all comes together. Fifteen years after Molly, Case and Armitage crash the Tessier-Ashpool party, SJane, now a living part of the matrix, attempts to finish her business with former enemies while bringing sim-stem star, Angie, into the matrix with Bobby the Count -- or something like that.What made the story for me was Molly/Sally. What a cool character. She's tough, sexy and her presence grounds Mona Lisa Overdrive in Gibson's pseudo-history. Sure the Finn's back as an AI, we discover what happened to Case, and even locations from Burning Chrome return to deepen Gibson's world, but Molly's presence means more than just background history. She is the star of Gibson's future-world. She is an icon of powerful womanhood, an embodiement of techno-bio synergy, a street samurai with attitude, a cutter and andrenaline junky in a world of cybercowboys and wiz-snorting prostitutes. She's an aberation and I fucking love her.
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  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, that's not a mistake, I gave "Mona Lisa Overdrive" a full "5.0" when I left "Count Zero" at a theoretical smidge below (but used the "4" in goodreads stars). That's not because (as I explained in the "CZ" review) "Count Zero" was not good, it just didn't surpass "Neuromancer". Subjective as charged, but that's my version and my review :-)I remember being surprised at how Gibson extended the "world" of his world with this book and being impressed by that. The writing stayed crisp, precise an Yes, that's not a mistake, I gave "Mona Lisa Overdrive" a full "5.0" when I left "Count Zero" at a theoretical smidge below (but used the "4" in goodreads stars). That's not because (as I explained in the "CZ" review) "Count Zero" was not good, it just didn't surpass "Neuromancer". Subjective as charged, but that's my version and my review :-)I remember being surprised at how Gibson extended the "world" of his world with this book and being impressed by that. The writing stayed crisp, precise and at his high level of imagery and characterization, but he (at least I thought so) went out on a limb in the story and the plotting. Instead of creating another cookie-cutter trilogy (or longer-logy) he shifted the already familiar and comfortable world to push the boundary even if it was a risk that some readers would not approve. He's the author, we are the readers. I thought it was a great book and say so here. You should read his entire oeuvre (at least N, CZ, & MLO) in order to appreciate how he developed his theme and skill.(If you think MLO was a departure, read the next novel that he co-authored with Bruce Sterling.)
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  • Anthony Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    The conclusion to the Sprawl trilogy sees the welcome return of Molly Millions, the kick-ass mercenary from Nueromancer. Gibson crafts a multi-stranded narrative fusing such disparate elements as modern art and voodoo into a typically energetic plot. but, as ever with Gibson, there is brain food to be found amongst the killer robot sculptures and Yakuza warlords. The dangers of unfettered artificial intelligence and the human implications of perfected virtual reality are to the fore here; is it The conclusion to the Sprawl trilogy sees the welcome return of Molly Millions, the kick-ass mercenary from Nueromancer. Gibson crafts a multi-stranded narrative fusing such disparate elements as modern art and voodoo into a typically energetic plot. but, as ever with Gibson, there is brain food to be found amongst the killer robot sculptures and Yakuza warlords. The dangers of unfettered artificial intelligence and the human implications of perfected virtual reality are to the fore here; is it OK to surrender our fate to the gods we made whilst we lose ourselves in less complicated dreamworlds? This series, now over twenty years old, seems more prescient than ever.
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  • Gray
    January 1, 1970
    “The Angie stims were sealed in plastic. She took one at random, slit the wrapper with her thumbnail, slotted it, and put the trodes on. She wasn’t thinking; her hands seemed to know what to do, […]. One of them touched PLAY and she slid into the Angie-world, pure as any drug, slow saxophone and limo-glide through some European city, ...” (p.143)The third book in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, Mona Lisa Overdrive continues the story of Angie Mitchell, one of the characters from the second book “The Angie stims were sealed in plastic. She took one at random, slit the wrapper with her thumbnail, slotted it, and put the trodes on. She wasn’t thinking; her hands seemed to know what to do, […]. One of them touched PLAY and she slid into the Angie-world, pure as any drug, slow saxophone and limo-glide through some European city, ...” (p.143)The third book in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, Mona Lisa Overdrive continues the story of Angie Mitchell, one of the characters from the second book Count Zero. It is set a few years later than the events of the second Sprawl book. Angie is now a famous “simstim” star, and we join her post detox clinic in a beach house in Malibu.“The doctors at the clinic had used chemical pliers to pry the addiction away from receptor sites in her brain.” (p.18)As well as Angie’s story, the narrative follows three other plot threads. The first introduces Kumiko, the young daughter of a Japanese yakuza boss. The second thread features an artist known as Slick Henry who lives out in the sticks in a place called “Factory”. The remaining plotline focuses on Mona, a young prostitute who resembles simstim star Angie. As in the previous book, Gibson takes us on a journey through cyberspace as he skillfully weaves together the four narratives.“It wasn’t like the not-caring of the stillness, the crystal overdrive, and it wasn’t like crashing, just this past-it feeling, the way maybe a ghost feels.” (p.293)Mona Lisa Overdrive is close to being the best book of the trilogy. It feels more accessible than both Neuromancer and Count Zero, but that is probably due to a kind of unconscious acclimation from having read the first two books. We have become familiar with this incredible world, but it still takes effort to follow Gibson’s striking language and ideas. His writing style is hard to define; all I know is that at times it flows off the page like an electric current, plugging us into the matrix.“People jacked in so they could hustle. Put the trodes on and they were out there, all the data in the world stacked up like one big neon city, so you could cruise around and have a kind of grip on it, visually anyway,” (p.16)In what is becoming a bit of a theme with Gibson’s books, Mona Lisa Overdrive requires your undivided attention to get the most out of it. It is helped by having such well-realized characters who each make you care about their fictional lives. It is also refreshing to find such well-written female characters in a book of this genre, penned by a male author. I would be interested to hear what any female readers of the Sprawl trilogy think about these characters, as well as the individual books. As you can no doubt surmise, I am a BIG fan of Gibson now and am keen to read more.Mona Lisa Overdrive, along with the first two Sprawl books, is highly recommended!Originally posted here: https://biginjapangrayman.wordpress.c...
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  • Megan Baxter
    January 1, 1970
    I think I actually read the three books that are all in this universe in order, although Count Zero was long enough ago that I remember very little of it, except that I liked it. Neuromancer I've always had a difficult relationship with - it just persists in keeping me at arms length. I get the story, I get the characters. I just don't...get it. Why it's so hugely popular. I don't dislike it, I'm just sort of baffled.Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads I think I actually read the three books that are all in this universe in order, although Count Zero was long enough ago that I remember very little of it, except that I liked it. Neuromancer I've always had a difficult relationship with - it just persists in keeping me at arms length. I get the story, I get the characters. I just don't...get it. Why it's so hugely popular. I don't dislike it, I'm just sort of baffled.Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
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  • prcardi
    January 1, 1970
    Storyline: 2/5Characters: 2/5Writing Style: 2/5World: 2/5I've had difficulty separating my emotional and psychological reaction to Gibson's predicted future from my appreciation of him as convincing worldbuilder. I hate the Sprawl and the world in which this is set. I loathe the idea of a future in which criminal delinquency is the norm, where chemicals are casually and regularly used by the masses just to get through the day, and everyday social interactions whirl around adolescent angst and at Storyline: 2/5Characters: 2/5Writing Style: 2/5World: 2/5I've had difficulty separating my emotional and psychological reaction to Gibson's predicted future from my appreciation of him as convincing worldbuilder. I hate the Sprawl and the world in which this is set. I loathe the idea of a future in which criminal delinquency is the norm, where chemicals are casually and regularly used by the masses just to get through the day, and everyday social interactions whirl around adolescent angst and attitude. I like to think I'm pretty flexible and can find a way to enjoy myself and make a rewarding life in a lot of different environments. But I think I would hate my life and the world in which it was brought into if this were the only option. If this is our future, then count me out. I'll rebel, exile myself, become a hermit or an eccentric. I just won't do it. And I haven't really enjoyed experiencing it vicariously through the Sprawl series. It hasn't all been bad. I found a lot to like in the second in the series, Count Zero. There I found some commentary and prediction on and for society that was thought-provoking. Even the first, Neuromancer, had something going for it in bringing us the cyberpunk cowboy culture. I didn't find those small rewards in Mona Lisa Overdrive. Gibson dealt with the power and evolution of wealth much more convincingly in the last book. He'd done poverty better in Virtual Light. I just didn't find the world here to add much to what was already built.This was also a book that I had difficulty maintaining interest in and following. I found I had difficulty through at least the first half keeping track of the many different characters. It didn't help that Gibson had set each of the revolving and disconnected viewpoints to have sidekicks and antagonists that performed similar roles in their own little subplots. Characters from earlier in the series were also dropped into the story abruptly, few reminders and connections to help the reader recall the important background information or characteristics. Gibson wrote these at intervals of two years apart, and I read all three in the last two years, but this book was not written in a way to be understood without a reread of the previous ones. There were so many times where I just didn't understand what was going on. The clipped cyberpunk prose added to the fugue, and I just couldn't make sense of some sentences and ongoings. The one mystery that I had thought of as the big question was also settled unsatisfactorily. (view spoiler)[ What are the shapes in the net? What is this whole vodoo thing with Legba? What changed in the matrix? Gibson saves this until the end - the very end, like the last page. And his answer isn't something any of the three books had prepared the reader for. It was a huge answer without any connections to anything before, no hints that it was coming, no indication that it fit with everything that was going on. He could just as easily ended the series and the big question with time travel, sapient reptiles, or a virus that can jump between humans and computers. All of those would have made just as much sense. (hide spoiler)] I found very little to like here, particularly when compared to what Gibson has produced elsewhere, including this series. None of it is awful, however, and for fans of the series thus far it is mostly more of the same. That really was the problem, though, Gibson needed something new and not just more of the same.
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  • Leo Walsh
    January 1, 1970
    Okay, it took me thirty years to complete the Sprawl Trilogy after starting it, but I'm glad I did. Since "Mona Lisa Overdrive" is excellent -- almost as good as the brilliant "Neuromancer." "Mona Lisa" takes place almost a decade after "Count Zero" in the narrative frame. In it Gibson brings back many characters from the previous two books. Bobby Newmark and Angie Mitchell are back, fallen out of love. As is the creepy Lady 3Jane... albeit in a less-than complete form. Best of all, the coolest Okay, it took me thirty years to complete the Sprawl Trilogy after starting it, but I'm glad I did. Since "Mona Lisa Overdrive" is excellent -- almost as good as the brilliant "Neuromancer." "Mona Lisa" takes place almost a decade after "Count Zero" in the narrative frame. In it Gibson brings back many characters from the previous two books. Bobby Newmark and Angie Mitchell are back, fallen out of love. As is the creepy Lady 3Jane... albeit in a less-than complete form. Best of all, the coolest female bad ass this side of Ripley, the street Ninja Molly Millions of the annealed-claws and polarized-eyes. The story does a nice job of addressing ideas Gibson opened in earlier volumes. How the merged Wintermute/ Neuromancer AI became "all information, and discovered an alien AI broadcasting from Alpha Century. And how stresses caused the program to fracture, using Voodoo constructs in order to communicate with humanity... manipulating us, it you will. And, of course, things get even weirder. When an AI built using more the advanced "bio-soft" AI Colin interfaces with Wintermute/ Neuromancer and together they gallop off in search of the Alpha Century AI. But Gibson doesn't just deliver "trippy" ideas and quirky, low-life characters that you hate to love, but do. Instead, his stories are wrapped in razor-sharp prose and action-packed plot lines that keep you turning pages. And in "Mona Lisa Overdrive," you even get Burning Man-style robotic flame-throwing robots facing off against mercenaries. All in all, an excellent series that has aged well. It's not that the technology is accurate (it isn't). It's because of Gibson;s skill in using Hemingway-like minimalist language in a grim setting that manages to present grand ideas while illustrating that humanity will pretty much just endure. Changed in some ways, by technology. Intrigued by the presence of AI's and contact with alien species. But at the end of the day, most of us will be too tired after work, shopping and soccer games to be all that transformed. To stay "plugged in" hard enough to be transformed, you'll need to pay Kid Africa to keep you merged with cyberspace for months at a time using a new bio-soft deck. Because only then will you have both money and leisure to appreciate and study the implications. For the rest of us, there's guns. Drugs. Whores. And the animatronic Judge... complete with chainsaws for fingers.Maybe not as earth-shattering. But keep your eyes peeled, you'll stay alive...
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    A teen prostitute named Mona could be the twin of simstim star Angela Mitchell. Kumiko, daughter of a Yakuza boss, is shuffled off to the protection of the London mob while her father deals with a gang war, and there she meets Molly Millions in hiding and using the name Sally Shears. Angela Mitchell, altered by her father to be able to enter cyberspace without having to jack in is the subject of an abduction plot, replacing her with Mona. Bobby Newmark is in a coma. Called Count, he's permanentl A teen prostitute named Mona could be the twin of simstim star Angela Mitchell. Kumiko, daughter of a Yakuza boss, is shuffled off to the protection of the London mob while her father deals with a gang war, and there she meets Molly Millions in hiding and using the name Sally Shears. Angela Mitchell, altered by her father to be able to enter cyberspace without having to jack in is the subject of an abduction plot, replacing her with Mona. Bobby Newmark is in a coma. Called Count, he's permanently jacked into a massive hard drive that can hold an entire human personality. A car thief named Slick Harry is hired to take care of him.This is the general weave of the last book of the Sprawl Trilogy, the most eloquent and humane of the three. Its ending also makes it feel the most optimistic in the trilogy as well.Written in 1988 the book foresaw an addictive cyber landscape in which people could plug their minds directly into cyberspace while the Internet was still largely a science and military tool and years before World Wide Web was named.Like his world, these books drop you into their universe with no time for explanations or backgrounding. The characters are there, they're living their lives, you get to go along for the ride without having stops for physics lessons. They are subversively modern and a dystopian world in which none of the characters are aware they live in dystopia. Like the other two in the series, Mona Lisa Overdrive is a push forward from earlier writers like Delany, Jeter, and LeGuin building an earthbound future that feels completely real and human.
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  • Chris Packham
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite line in this book: "Kid Africa came cruising into Dog Solitude on the third day of November, his vintage Dodge chauffeured by a white girl named Cherry Chesterfield." It was the opening of the second or third chapter, and a huge reassurance that it was going to be a cool book. Also, I had to read this book so bad when it came out that I wrote a bad check for it (I was 19).
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  • G.T. Almasi
    January 1, 1970
    Here's how I take in the Sprawl stories:Step 1: Read the book. Step 2: Wind up entranced yet totally confused.Step 3: Read someone else's synopsis of the book to figure out what the heck happened.I guess this means I think Gibson is a crappy story-teller, but his prose is so cool and his fantastic concepts have influenced so many things I like that I still think he's great.
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