Sprawl

The World of William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy

For the last few days, I have been re-reading the last two novels of William Gibson’s sci-fi Sprawl trilogy. The Sprawl is Gibson’s take on how the Boston to Washington DC corridor will develop in time to be the largest urban area in the world. The trilogy consists of:

  • Neuromancer (1984), in which the term cyberspace was first introduced
  • Count Zero (1986)
  • Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)

The 1980s was a time when the United States was awed by the growth of the Japanese economy. Throughout the trilogy, the yakuza, or Japanese underworld, has a presence—along with Haitian Voodoo gods such as Baron Samedi and Papa Legba, who seem to have taken up residence in cyberspace.

I do not think it is possible to reprise the plot of any of these novels in a coherent way, and I am sure I will forget most of the details within a week or two. What I will not forget, however, is the wild imagination that Gibson displays in his work. For instance, many scenes in Mona Lisa Overdrive take place in a barren New Jersey rust belt area known as Dog Solitude.

One of the difficulties of summarizing any of these novels is that, typically, the action takes place in numerous locales with numerous characters, many of whom have numerous aliases.

For some reason, I have not read any Gibson for a number of years. Now I am hooked again.