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Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson (Books 2021, 22)

I reach the end of the Sprawl Trilogy

Talk about not remembering books: I’ve got to ask myself whether I ever did read this one. I remembered one thing from it, but it’s not how I remembered it. When people jack in to the matrix they use headsets — ‘trodes’ — with electrodes that connect to their temples.

There is a transition between the real world and cyberspace when they connect, and I had this memory of one cowboy (people who enter the matrix or cyberspace are called ‘cowboys’ or ‘jockeys’) who had a set of trodes that made the transition feel like the world was falling apart. I’ve been half waiting for that bit through these three books. Here’s a quote:


Yes,’ she said, and Tick’s room was gone, its walls a flutter of cards, tumbling and receding, against the bright grid, the towering forms of data.

Nice transition, that,’ she heard him say. ‘Built into the trodes, that is. But of drama…’

So that must be the bit I remembered, but if you had asked me I’d have said I thought it came a book or two earlier, and was mentioned more than once.

But what of the book itself? It keeps up the standard, maybe raises it slightly. We have four interconnected stories, four viewpoint characters, told in alternating chapters. One of the stories — that of Kumiko, who is experiencing the flutter of cards, above — isn’t really relevant, in the sense that it doesn’t drive the plot at all. Things that happen around her do affect the main plot, but she’s not really aware of them.

What surprised me about this and the three books overall, is how much they really are a trilogy. I had the impression that they were considered only to be very loosely connected at best; essentially three stories set in the same milieu. But in fact not only do characters recur, everything here ties back to the events of Neuromancer, which happened some fourteen years before.

All very worth reading if you haven’t already.