Biosoft World

Kenneth Coane '10, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Fall 2006)

In Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive, Bobby is laying rather comatose on a hospital stretcher, in a very deep REM like sleep. He is connected, via a link into his brain, to a very large piece of biosoft. This biosoft is able to hold enormous amounts of data, and has the ability to contain Bobby's consciousness, as well as the consciousness of others. Bobby is effectively living in an entire virtual world, that is contained in the piece of biosoft. Just how large and interactive this biosoft construct is, is baffling to most of the other characters except for Gentry, who tries to explain what he thinks it is to Cherry as seen below.

"He could have anything in there," Gentry said, pausing to look down at the unconscious face. He spun on his heel and began pacing again. "A world. Worlds. Any number of personality-constructs . . ."

"Like he's living a stim?" Cherry asked. "That why he's always in REM?"

"No," Gentry said, "it's not simstim. It's completely interactive. And it's a matter of scale. If this is aleph-class biosoft, he could literally have anything at all in there. In a sense, he could have an approximation of everything. . . ."

"I gotta feeling off Kid Afrika," Cherry said, "that this guy was paying to stay this way. Kinda wirehead action but different. And anyway, wireheads don't REM like that. . . ."


Discussion Questions

1. After reading Baudrillard's Essay on Simulacra and Simulations what conclusions could be drawn about the world in the biosoft that Bobby exists in?

2. How is Bobby's existence in the biosoft different from Dixie's existence in the construct?

3. What is the advantage to having an entire world available in this biosoft form?

4. If people are stored in a storage medium like this, are they technically AI's?


Gibson, William. Mona Lisa Overdrive . New York: Bantam Books, 1988.

Cyberspace OV Cyborg  Mona Lisa Overdrive

Last modified 30 December 2006