I’m going to round out the Sprawl Trilogy. It only makes sense, especially after I’ve stressed Gibson’s extremely pivotal contributions towards building this genre. It will come as no surprise to your that I thoroughly enjoyed the third book, especially if you look at my reflections on Neuromancer (book 1,) and Count Zero (book 2.) However, before getting into the meat of my thoughts I would like to clear something up about Count Zero.
There are some who felt that my opinions on that fantastic book were negative. It couldn’t be any father from the truth, I thought that the characters reflections, reactions, and growth were quite engaging. Besides, how could I possibly think poorly of any work written in the fantastic world Gibson built in Neuromancer. The thing I was trying to say about Count Zero was that I found that it felt a little disconnected from the first book. That’s all.
Well, Mona Lisa Overdrive absolutely does not suffer from that. Not only does it tie over from Count Zero but it even builds concrete bridges between both itself and the Count and the first book, and the result is nothing short of fantastic. It reminds me of watching a very charismatic magician. One who has honed the craft of misdirection to the point where he or she can begin to play with performance. Begin a trick, seem to get distracted, misdirect the viewer to something different, perhaps begin another trick and then when the reveal is made you realize that all along it was one cohesive illusion.
I’m not exactly certain that Gibson did this from the start, however. As I mentioned in my Count Zero reflection I remember seeing somewhere that the finality with which Neuromancer ends was driven by the fact that Gibson didn’t intend to continue in that world. It is, though, quite apparent that even if he didn’t originally intend to continue the work, once he did he did so carefully and with a vision.
If we focus on the details, there are some prominent elements of Mona Lisa Overdrive that are worth noting. The characters exhibit equally varied points of view, and Gibson does a wonderful job allowing you to view their experience. Most notably I felt that his writing of the young female character Mona and Slick, a character with a memory problem, was the strongest. The best crafted example of which is when Slick begins to have an episode in which he stops retaining memory continuity. It is such a wonderful piece of storytelling. The action scenes in the other sequences also feel more grounded, somehow, perhaps because street-samurai Sally does less of her violent acts within the viewer’s scope.
The thing about this book that struck me the most, and (perhaps unsurprisingly to others who are familiar with the novel) has endeared it to me is how Gibson begins to play with the foundations of metaversal presence in this book. Though not the first to entertain the concept of consciousness transplantation, Gibson’s insertion of his characters into a metaversal space goes far beyond the ground he laid with the invention of his matrix. It would not surprise me to find out that Ernie Cline (author of Ready Player One) was influenced by him, and whether he knows it or not the concepts that make the OASIS function feel like they begain in Mona Lisa Overdrive.
As with all of my fiction reflections I’m hesitant to delve into story components too finitely. There is a pleasure found in discovering a story that can’t be felt merely by being told. The only other thing that I will divulge is that The Sprawl Trilogy is a fantastic piece of metaversalist fiction. Perhaps the third of which being the only true metaversalist book (the others are probably more cyber-punk.) If the things on this site interest you then I am confident these books will as well.