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The Peripheral Paperback – October 6, 2015
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“Spectacular, a piece of trenchant, far-future speculation that features all the eyeball kicks of Neuromancer and all the maturity and sly wit of Spook Country. It’s brilliant.”—Cory Doctorow
“From page one, The Peripheral ticks and sings with the same controlled, dark energy and effortless grace of language...Like the best of Gibson's early, groundbreaking work, it offers up the same kind of chewy, tactile future that you can taste and smell and feel on your skin; that you believe, immediately, like some impossible documentary, because the thing that Gibson has always been best at is offering up futures haunted by the past.”—NPR
More Praise for William Gibson
“His eye for the eerie in the everyday still lends events an otherworldly sheen.”—The New Yorker
“Like Pynchon and DeLillo, Gibson excels at pinpointing the hidden forces that shape our world.”—Details
“William Gibson can craft sentences of uncanny beauty, and is our great poet of crowds.”—San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
“Gibson’s radar is deftly tuned to the changes in the culture that many of us are missing.”—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
About the Author
William Gibson’s first novel, Neuromancer, won the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, and the Nebula Award in 1984. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Burning Chrome, Virtual Light, Idoru, All Tomorrow’s Parties, Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History, Distrust That Particular Flavor, and The Peripheral. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife.
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Flynne is a young woman in rural West Virginia who sometimes earns extra money by playing online games (gaming enthusiasts pay good players to be on their team). Flynne (along with her brother, Burton, a partially disabled veteran) becomes involved with Wilf Netherton, a Londoner who lives in what we are told is one of a number of possible futures. The connection is a computer program which allows personalities (but not bodies) to move from one time to another (exactly how is kept vague). People moving from the past to the future can inhabit quasi-human bodies (called "peripherals" - hence the title) whose original purpose seems to have been to allow people in the future to (for example) attend a business meeting in Beijing without leaving Chicago.
Netherton's future is on the far side of an apocalyptic event referred to as "the Jackpot" which seems to have largely depopulated the world as well as leaving it under the control of intrusive police and security agencies.
The McGuffin which drives the story is a murder which Flynne witnesses while she is filling in for her brother in what she thinks is the beta-test of an immersive multi-player online game - but which actually is a trip to the future. A bewildering array of over 25 named characters (I had to make notes so I could keep them all straight) either support, or oppose the investigation of the murder. Gibson being Gibson, these characters are well-drawn, quirky, and authentic - although bewilderingly diverse.
The story is interesting and engaging - Netherton is a publicist with a drinking problem recently fired by a performance artist/media personality. He takes refuge with his friend Lev, the scion of a Russian Mafia family thoroughly transplanted to London. Lev is actively using the time-travel program, and thus the connection to Flynne's brother and ultimately to Flynne.
Unfortunately 'The Peripheral' is far from being Gibson's best - the denouement is disappointing and one gets the impression that Gibson finally got tired of the story and didn't have any good ideas for an ending, so he just chopped it off in a way that seems hurried and careless and which still leaves major loose ends dangling.
Definitely worth four stars, and only misses five because the ending feels unsatisfying.
Most recent customer reviews
The peek into the future, the lure of tech, the sheer poetry of the work captures my imagination and interest again and...Read more