Enter Gibson's unique world—lyric and mechanical, sensual and violent, sobering and exciting—where multinational corporations and high tech outlaws vie for power, traveling into the computer-generated universe known as cyberspace. Into this world comes Mona, a young girl with a murky past and an uncertain future whose life is on a collision course with internationally famous Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell. Since childhood, Angie has been able to tap into cyberspace without a computer. Now, from inside cyberspace, a kidnapping plot is masterminded by a phantom entity who has plans for Mona, Angie, and all humanity, plans that cannot be controlled . . . or even known. And behind the intrigue lurks the shadowy Yazuka, the powerful Japanese underworld, whose leaders ruthlessly manipulate people and events to suit their own purposes . . . or so they think.
About the Author
Hometown:Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Date of Birth:March 17, 1948
Place of Birth:Conway, South Carolina
Education:B.A., University of British Columbia, 1977
Read an Excerpt
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 kobun,” 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?”
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.
Kumiko blinked, opened her hand. The boy flickered and was gone. She looked down at the smooth little unit in her palm and slowly closed her fingers.
“ ’Lo again,” he said. “Name’s Colin. Yours?”
She stared. His eyes were bright green smoke, his high forehead pale and smooth under an unruly dark forelock. She could see the seats across the aisle through the glint of his teeth. “If it’s a bit too spectral for you,” he said, with a grin, “we can up the rez.…” And he was there for an instant, uncomfortably sharp and real, the nap on the lapels of his dark coat vibrating with hallucinatory clarity. “Runs the battery down, though,” he said, and faded to his prior state. “Didn’t get your name.” The grin again.
“You aren’t real,” she said sternly.
He shrugged. “Needn’t speak out loud, miss. Fellow passengers might think you a bit odd, if you take my meaning Subvocal’s the way. I pick it all up through the skin.…” He uncrossed his legs and stretched, hands clasped behind his head. “Seatbelt, miss. I needn’t buckle up myself, of course, being, as you’ve pointed out, unreal.”
Kumiko frowned and tossed the unit into the ghost’s lap. He vanished. She fastened her seatbelt, glanced at the thing, hesitated, then picked it up again.
“First time in London, then?” he asked, swirling in from the periphery of her vision. She nodded in spite of herself. “You don’t mind flying? Doesn’t frighten you?”
She shook her head, feeling ridiculous.
“Never mind,” the ghost said. “I’ll look out for you. Heathrow in three minutes. Someone meeting you off the plane?”
“My father’s business associate,” she said in Japanese.
The ghost grinned. “Then you’ll be in good hands, I’m sure.” He winked. “Wouldn’t think I’m a linguist to look at me, would you?”
Kumiko closed her eyes and the ghost began to whisper to her, something about the archaeology of Heathrow, about the Neolithic and the Iron ages, pottery and tools.…”
“Miss Yanaka? Kumiko Yanaka?” The Englishman towered above her, his gaijin bulk draped in elephantine folds of dark wool. Small dark eyes regarded her blandly through steel-rimmed glasses. His nose seemed to have been crushed nearly flat and never reset. His hair, what there was of it, had been shaved back to a gray stubble, and his black knit gloves were frayed and fingerless.
“My name, you see,” he said, as though this would immediately reassure her, “is Petal.”
Petal called the city Smoke.
Kumiko shivered on chill red leather; through the ancient Jaguar’s window she watched the snow spinning down to melt on the road Petal called M4. The late afternoon sky was colorless. He drove silently, efficiently, his lips pursed as though he were about to whistle. The traffic, to Tokyo eyes, was absurdly light. They accelerated past an unmanned Eurotrans freight vehicle, its blunt prow studded with sensors and banks of headlights. In spite of the Jaguar’s speed, Kumiko felt as if somehow she were standing still; London’s particles began to accrete around her. Walls of wet brick, arches of concrete, black-painted ironwork standing up in spears.
As she watched, the city began to define itself. Off the M4, while the Jaguar waited at intersections, she could glimpse faces through the snow, flushed gaijin faces above dark clothing, chins tucked down into scarves, women’s bootheels ticking through silver puddles. The rows of shops and houses reminded her of the gorgeously detailed accessories she’d seen displayed around a toy locomotive in the Osaka gallery of a dealer in European antiques.
This was nothing like Tokyo, where the past, all that remained of it, was nurtured with a nervous care. History there had become a quantity, a rare thing, parceled out by government and preserved by law and corporate funding. Here it seemed the very fabric of things, as if the city were a single growth of stone and brick, uncounted strata of message and meaning, age upon age, generated over the centuries to the dictates of some now-all-but-unreadable DNA of commerce and empire.
“Regret Swain couldn’t come out to meet you himself,” the man called Petal said. Kumiko had less trouble with his accent than with his manner of structuring sentences; she initially mistook the apology for a command. She considered accessing the ghost, then rejected the idea.
“Swain,” she ventured. “Mr. Swain is my host?”
Petal’s eyes found her in the mirror. “Roger Swain. Your father didn’t tell you?”
“Ah.” He nodded. “Mr. Kanaka’s conscious of security in these matters, it stands to reason.… Man of his stature, et cetera …” He sighed loudly. “Sorry about the heater. Garage was supposed to have that taken care of.…”
“Are you one of Mr. Swain’s secretaries?” Addressing the stubbled rolls of flesh above the collar of the thick dark coat.
“His secretary?” He seemed to consider the matter. “No,” he ventured finally, “I’m not that.” He swung them through a roundabout, past gleaming metallic awnings and the evening surge of pedestrians. “Have you eaten, then? Did they feed you on the flight?”
“I wasn’t hungry.” Conscious of her mother’s mask.
“Well, Swain’ll have something for you. Eats a lot of Jap food, Swain.” He made a strange little ticking sound with his tongue. He glanced back at her.
She looked past him, seeing the kiss of snowflakes, the obliterating sweep of the wipers.