Mona Lisa Overdrive

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This article is about the novel. For the Buck-Tick album, see Mona Lisa Overdrive (album).
Mona Lisa Overdrive
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author William Gibson
Series Sprawl trilogy
Genre Science fiction, cyberpunk
Publisher Victor Gollancz Ltd
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover and paperback)
Pages 251
ISBN 0-553-05250-0
OCLC 17876008
813/.54 19
LC Class PS3557.I2264 M65 1988
Preceded by Count Zero

Mona Lisa Overdrive is a cyberpunk novel by William Gibson published in 1988 and the final novel of the Sprawl trilogy, following Neuromancer and Count Zero. It takes place eight years after the events of Count Zero and is set, as were its predecessors, in The Sprawl. The novel was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel, the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1989.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Taking place eight years after the events of Count Zero and fifteen years after Neuromancer, the story is formed from several interconnecting plot threads, and also features characters from Gibson's previous works (such as Molly Millions, the razor-fingered mercenary from Neuromancer).

One of the plot threads concerns Mona, a teen prostitute who has a more-than-passing resemblance to famed Simstim superstar Angie Mitchell. Mona is hired by shady individuals for a "gig" which later turns out to be part of a plot to abduct Angie.

The second story focuses on a young Japanese girl named Kumiko, daughter of a Yakuza boss sent to London to keep her safe while her father engages in a gang war with other top Yakuza leaders. In London she is cared for by one of her father's retainers, who is also a powerful member of the London Mob. She meets Molly Millions (having altered her appearance and now calling herself "Sally Shears", in order to conceal her identity from hostile parties who are implied to be pursuing her), who takes the girl under her wing.

The third story thread follows a reclusive artist named Slick Henry, who lives in a place named Factory in the Dog Solitude; a large, poisoned expanse of deserted factories and dumps, perhaps in New Jersey. Slick Henry is a convicted (and punished) car thief. As a result of the repetitive brainwashing nature of his punishment, he spends his days creating large robotic sculptures and periodically suffers episodes of time loss, returning to consciousness afterward with no memory of what he did during the blackout. He is hired by an acquaintance to look after the comatose "Count" (Bobby Newmark from the second novel, Count Zero, who has hooked himself into a super-capacity cyber-harddrive called an Aleph). A theoretical "Aleph" would have the RAM capacity to literally contain all of reality, enough that a memory construct of a person would contain the complete personality of the individual and allow it to learn, grow and act independently.

The final plot line follows Angela Mitchell, famous simstim star and the girl from the second Sprawl novel Count Zero. Angie, thanks to brain manipulations by her father when she was a child, has always had the ability to access cyberspace directly (without a cyberspace deck), but drugs provided by her production company Sense/Net have severely impeded this ability.


The story of the reclusive artist that makes cybernetic sculptures is a reference to Mark Pauline of Survival Research Labs.[2]

A track of the score for the film The Matrix Reloaded by Juno Reactor and Don Davis was named "Mona Lisa Overdrive". The Matrix Trilogy was heavily influenced by Gibson's writing. An edited and slightly different version of the song is also available in Juno Reactor's album Labyrinth again under the name "Mona Lisa Overdrive".[3]

The Los Angeles music band called Mona Lisa Overdrive (formerly called A2) too was inspired by the novel of the same name. This group originally performed the song "Chosen One" for the Sega video game Shadow the Hedgehog in 2005, which was then included in the soundtrack Lost and Found.

The name of the cyber-hardrive that Bobby Newark hooks himself up to is a direct reference to the short story "The Aleph" by Argentinian Author Jorge Luis Borges. The titular Aleph being a point in space which contains all other points and if one were to gaze into the Aleph one can see the entirety of existence.


External links[edit]