Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

Mona Lisa Overdrive is much more the kind of thing I was after that time I was fooled by the science fiction classification into getting Pattern Recognition out of the library. It’s set after, and shares characters with, Neuromancer but I don’t think it’s necessary to have read Neuromancer to enjoy it (if you do enjoy it you’ll enjoy Neuromancer though, so why not read that first). It’s full of the downtrodden and exploited (some exploited more straightforwardly than others), shady characters double-crossing each other or showing unexpected loyalty, plenty of drugs (believe me, they’re anything but glamourised) and a wealth of exquisite detail. The prose is darkly poetic, the atmosphere haunting (literally in places, there’s an interesting voodoo theme), and in the broken future that Gibson lays before us, the characters are all well-formed and believable. Strands that seem to have no possible connection (teenage prostitute in Florida looking for a way out; daughter of shadowy but influential Japanese man sent to London for safe-keeping; dwellers in the urban wasteland limping through life building robots and searching for meaning in cyberspace; blackmail, drug addiction and someone else’s dreams) are woven effortlessly through the novel. Love and loss, the falseness of celebrity, gods in cyberspace, London villains and a sprinkling of Japanese. What more could you ask?

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2 comments

  1. not read Mon Lisa overdrive though sounds like I’ll have to now, personally I think Virtual Light is well worth a look (though it’s a near future novel so closer to pattern recognition than neuromancer) the difference engine is good as well, especially if you like spotting 19th century historical figures in books and feeling all smug cos you know who they are (like I do-because I’m a loser)

    1. Ha! That’s not being a loser, that’s normal in my world, and the more obscure they are the warmer the smugness.

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