Mona Lisa Overdrive is the title of the third book in William Gibson's revolutionary cyberpunk trilogy. (the first and second books are Neuromancer and Count Zero, respectively) Mona Lisa Overdrive is set in an alternate future, where cyberspace cowboys interact with the Matrix, a sort of VR analogue of the internet using neural interface devices called cyberdecks. Industrialization has made a wreck of the environment, but if you're rich, you can still find clean places to vacation. Gibson writes his characters into an urban world that has the dangerous glitter of broken glass, and he does so with prose of an absorbingly poetic nature.
This book follows four storyline threads, each tied to the perspective of a character, and each with their own important sub-characters:
- Kumiko - the daughter of a powerful japanese businessman with Yakuza connections
- Colin - a Maas-Neotek artificial intelligence unit that Kumiko carries with her
- Sally Shears - an aging razorgirl (street samurai) with mysterious orders
- Tick - a hacker friend of Sally's that lives in London
- Finn - a personality (ROM) construct of a deceased dealer on the technological black market
- Mona, a young prostitute with a wiz addiction and a resemblence to the Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell
- Prior - a small time fixer who says he's looking to get Mona a job as an actress
- Eddy - Mona's boyfriend.
...and those are just the major players. Mona Lisa Overdrive can be safely described as a character-driven book, but the plot is by no means neglected. Gibson does an artful job of tying these plot threads together.
While the cyberpunk trilogy is accepted as being an important step toward the public acceptance of technology and the internet, the first two books were written on a mechanical typewriter. Even more surprisingly, while Mona Lisa Overdrive was written on an Apple IIc, it was the first time Gibson had even touched a computer. Regarding this, he writes:
"This was around 1986 or so, and the IIc had long-since been eclipsed by various proto-Macs, which everyone assured me were wonderful, but which I regarded as prohibitively expensive. I bought a IIc in an end-of-line sale at a department store, took it home, and learned, to my considerable disappointment, that personal computers stored their data on little circular bits of electromagnetic tape, which were whirled around to the accompaniment of assorted coarse sounds. I suppose I'd assumed the data was just sort of, well, held. In a glittering mesh of silicon. Or something. But silently. And that, quite literally, was the first time I ever touched a computer. And I still don't know very much about them. The revealed truth of which, as I've said, sometimes perturbs my readers, or in any case those readers with a peculiarly intense computer-tech bent, of whom I seem to have more than a few."
- William Gibson (Mona Lisa Overdrive, Author's Note)
...and if that ain't a trip...
thanks to zerotime for a correction re: tick