Read Mona Lisa Overdrive Online

Authors: William Gibson

Mona Lisa Overdrive

BOOK: Mona Lisa Overdrive
2.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Mona turned a corner at random, automatic reflex avoiding a crazy, and found herself
walking past sunfaded card tables spread with cheap Indo simstim sets, used cassettes,
colored spikes of microsoft stuck in blocks of pale blue Styrofoam. There was a picture
of Angie Mitchell taped up behind one of the tables, a poster Mona hadn’t seen before.
She stopped and studied it hungrily, taking in the stars clothes and makeup first,
then trying to figure out the background, where it had been shot. Unconsciously, she
adjusted her expression to approximate Angie’s in the poster. Not a grin, exactly.
A sort of half-grin, maybe a little sad. Mona felt a special way about Angie.…


“Dust off those mirrored shades! The man credited with starting the cyberpunk movement
is back with a new high-tech, far-future thriller.… Watching him mix together Japanese
gangsters, Haitian voodoo, killer robots, and mean-spirited artificial intelligence
is always compelling. He knows how to create quirky characters and propel them through
expertly paced adventures. And, perhaps above all, he is a distinctive stylist whose
prose has been polished until it gleams.”

—San Francisco Chronicle

“Gibson’s initial grab is his diamond-hard prose, stylish settings, and cinematic
sweep.… But what sets him apart is his humanity: He creates characters who hurt, love,
hate, and mourn like real people, even if they’re in a world where data is accessed
by hallucinating ‘console jockeys’ and precious art is created by something in space
that may be a machine and may be God.”

—The Seattle Times

“The man can
. His prose is sleek, hard, cool.”

—San Diego Tribune

“William Gibson showed that he has lost none of his brilliance with
Mona Lisa Overdrive

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch Magazine


“Gibson’s writing has gotten better—cleaner, quicker.… He has shaken up the fundamental
principles of science fiction while sustaining it as a pop-culture genre by creating
vivid characters and putting them into action-packed situations. The result is that
instead of harboring a lot of wooden characters on distant planets floating around
gabbing sententiously, Gibson’s novels contain the drive and intricate plotting of
good adventure stories, while summoning up a world that bears just enough resemblance
to our own to keep the reader rooted.”

—Philadelphia Inquirer

“There is not one story but five, each compelling, each displaying richness of character
and subtlety of expression.… With a hint here, a word or two there, the stories converge,
gather speed, and jump into cyberspace, literally and literarily.”

—Northwest Examiner

“A fascinating and gripping read.”

—The San Francisco Bay Guardian

“Smooth and liquid and quietly compelling.”

—Science Fiction Eye

“Gibson’s spare style contrasts wonderfully with his opaque plot and glinting, metallic
settings; with his tale’s nebulous schemes of Yakuza overlords and the garish glory
of a haircut called the Cleveland Fighting Fish.”

—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Dazzling … Exceptional … A brilliant blender of high-tech speculation, intricate
plotting, and sharply drawn characters.”

—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Gibson is simply a superb writer. This time the sheer inventiveness of phrasing that
earned him unprecedented acclaim for his first novel,
—the only book to simultaneously receive the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick awards—is
complemented by interior character portrayals that have made
more moving than its predecessor
Count Zero

—Edmonton Magazine


Bantam Spectra Book
Bantam hardcover edition / November 1988
Bantam paperback edition / December 1989

and the portrayal of a boxed “s” are trademarks of Bantam
Books, a division of Random House, Inc

All rights reserved
Copyright © 1988 by William Gibson
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 88-14494
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information
storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. For
information address: Bantam Books

eISBN: 978-0-307-83119-4

Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark,
consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered
in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam
Books, New York, New York



The ghost was her father’s parting gift, presented by a black-clad secretary in a
departure lounge at Narita.

For the first two hours of the flight to London it lay forgotten in her purse, a smooth
dark oblong, one side impressed with the ubiquitous Maas-Neotek logo, the other gently
curved to fit the user’s palm.

She sat up very straight in her seat in the first-class cabin, her features composed
in a small cold mask modeled after her dead mother’s most characteristic expression.
The surrounding seats were empty; her father had purchased the space. She refused
the meal the nervous steward offered. The vacant seats frightened him, evidence of
her father’s wealth and power. The man hesitated, then bowed and withdrew. Very briefly,
she allowed the mask her mother’s smile.

Ghosts, she thought later, somewhere over Germany, staring at the upholstery of the
seat beside her. How well her father treated his ghosts.

There were ghosts beyond the window, too, ghosts in the stratosphere of Europe’s winter,
partial images that
began to form if she let her eyes drift out of focus. Her mother in Ueno Park, face
fragile in September sunlight. “The cranes, Kumi! Look at the cranes!” And Kumiko
looked across Shinobazu Pond and saw nothing, no cranes at all, only a few hopping
black dots that surely were crows. The water was smooth as silk, the color of lead,
and pale holograms flickered indistinctly above a distant line of archery stalls.
But Kumiko would see the cranes later, many times, in dreams; they were origami, angular
things folded from sheets of neon, bright stiff birds sailing the moonscape of her
mother’s madness.…

Remembering her father, the black robe open across a tattooed storm of dragons, slumped
behind the vast ebony field of his desk, his eyes flat and bright, like the eyes of
a painted doll. “Your mother is dead. Do you understand?” And all around her the planes
of shadow in his study, the angular darkness. His hand coming forward, into the lamp’s
circle of light, unsteadily, to point at her, the robe’s cuff sliding back to reveal
a golden Rolex and more dragons, their manes swirling into waves, pricked out strong
and dark around his wrist, pointing. Pointing at her. “Do you understand?” She hadn’t
answered, but had run instead, down to a secret place she knew, the warren of the
smallest of the cleaning machines. They ticked around her all night, scanning her
every few minutes with pink bursts of laser light, until her father came to find her,
and, smelling of whiskey and Dunhill cigarettes, carried her to her room on the apartment’s
third floor.

Remembering the weeks that followed, numb days spent most often in the black-suited
company of one secretary or another, cautious men with automatic smiles and tightly
furled umbrellas. One of these, the youngest and least cautious, had treated her,
on a crowded Ginza sidewalk, in the shadow of the Hattori clock, to an impromptu kendo
demonstration, weaving expertly between startled shop girls and wide-eyed tourists,
the black umbrella blurring harmlessly through the art’s formal, ancient arcs. And
Kumiko had smiled then, her own smile, breaking the funeral mask, and for this her
guilt was driven instantly, more deeply and still more sharply, into that place in
her heart where she knew her shame and her unworthiness. But most often the secretaries
took her shopping, through one vast Ginza department store after another, and in and
out of dozens of Shinjuku boutiques recommended by a blue plastic Michelin guide that
spoke a stuffy tourist’s Japanese. She purchased only very ugly things, ugly and very
expensive things, and the secretaries marched stolidly beside her, the glossy bags
in their hard hands. Each afternoon, returning to her father’s apartment, the bags
were deposited neatly in her bedroom, where they remained, unopened and untouched,
until the maids removed them.

And in the seventh week, on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, it was arranged that
Kumiko would go to London.

“You will be a guest in the house of my
,” her father said.

“But I do not wish to go,” she said, and showed him her mother’s smile.

“You must,” he said, and turned away. “There are difficulties,” he said to the shadowed
study. “You will be in no danger, in London.”

“And when shall I return?”

But her father didn’t answer. She bowed and left his study, still wearing her mother’s

The ghost woke to Kumiko’s touch as they began their descent into Heathrow. The fifty-first
generation of Maas-Neotek biochips conjured up an indistinct figure on the seat beside
her, a boy out of some faded hunting print, legs crossed casually in tan breeches
and riding boots. “Hullo,” the ghost said.

BOOK: Mona Lisa Overdrive
2.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Locker 13 by R.L. Stine
Elders by Ryan McIlvain
Sorry by Gail Jones
The Healer by Allison Butler
Fleeced by Julia Wills
The Dime Museum Murders by Daniel Stashower