Diamond Age 75 (16)
June 30, 2019
One in a series of posts about the 75 best science fiction novels published during the genre’s Diamond Age era (from 1984–2003, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For Josh Glenn’s complete Diamond Age Sci-Fi 75 list, click here.
William Gibson‘s Sprawl science fiction adventure Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988).
Eight years after the events of 1986’s Count Zero: Kumiko, the adolescent daughter of a Yakuza boss, hides out in London with “Sally Shears” (Molly Millions, the knife-fingered mercenary from 1984’s Neuromancer), not to mention a biosoft apparatus that presents as a British child (and which can only be seen by Kumiko); Angie Mitchell (from Count Zero) struggles in the aftermath of a breakdown caused by her Simstim fame, and seeks her missing boyfriend; Mona, an amateur teen prostitute pimped by her nasty boyfriend, is caught up in a crime organization’s attempt to abduct her celebrity lookalike; and the comatose body of Bobby Newmark (the titular protagonist of Count Zero) is cared for by Slick Henry, a Mark Pauline-esque junkyard-dwelling giant-robot artist and car thief who suffers from blackouts. Molly and Angie are the motivating forces, here: they’re looking to force a confrontation and settle the turmoil unleashed by the events of the previous books. Bobby, meanwhile, has become addicted to an Aleph, a Borgesian super-capacity cyber-harddrive that is, essentially, a self-contained world. Will Angie regain the ability to access cyberspace directly, via the biosofts implanted in her head by her father? What is Continuity — the AI that is the most important decision-maker for Sense/Net, Angie’s production company — up to? Will Bobby wake up?
Fun facts: Steven Poole wrote in The Guardian that “Neuromancer and the two novels which followed, Count Zero and the gorgeously titled Mona Lisa Overdrive, made up a fertile holy trinity, a sort of Chrome Koran (the name of one of Gibson’s future rock bands) of ideas inviting endless reworkings.”
DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI at HILOBROW: William Gibson | Bruce Sterling | Margaret Atwood | Ann Nocenti | Frank Miller | Alan Moore | Octavia E. Butler | Iain M. Banks | Grant Morrison | Neal Stephenson | Jonathan Lethem | Charles Burns | China Miéville.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.