January 6, 2015

The Peripheral

The Peripheral
William Gibson


(January 6, 2015)

An excellent book, although Gibson is too dense to be ideally read, as I read this, in the car. Gibson here returns to science fiction, albeit in complicated form: future Londoners, living in the wake of a fizzled singularity called the Jackpot, amuse themselves by hacking the past of parallel universes through cell phones and peripherals — telepresence in synthetic bodies that range in complexity from iPads on a stick on a Segway (a Wheelie Boy™) to organic devices that look like people.

The strengths are Gibson’s strengths: the vision of Neuromancer and much of its lyricism is back, freed from the constraints of contemporary realism. The idiosyncratic concern with poor rural white Southerners is here, too. There’s another cameo of an young woman in the art world. The plotting here is the strongest Gibson’s managed since Count Zero, though in the end the antagonist evaporates like the Tessier-Ashpools into a cloud of doubt.