teahousehome.com icon

022: books : fiction : The Peripheral by William Gibson


cover of William Gibson's book, The Peripheral



William Gibson (williamgibsonbooks.com), the author who invented Cyberpunk and whose work has won an impressive range of awards, has become a popular speculative futurist. Perhaps he has always been one: I recall reading his comments in Wired back in the day, talking about how the military wished to consult him on how to make the dark, dystopian cyberpunk futures he wrote about real. (Note: that was NOT his goal.)

His early, more clearly sci-fi works which resonated with my pals in the 1980s gave way to a more near-future / alt-future series of works, which resonate more with - and this is interesting to me - women. Yes, in the '80s and early '90s, I chatted only with men about his writing, but somewhere in or near the '00s, women started mentioning him as authors that they had recently read during casual conversations.

Unlike many male sci-fi authors of prior generations who haven't fully grasped that female humans are sentient, Gibson writes REALLY COOL WOMEN. Modern women. Women who have interests and who are interesting. "Relate-able" women, who have fringe technology fetishes, who are attuned to abstract cultural trends, who are not bothering with mainstream conformity, and who are the primary characters in his fascinating, not-now-but-maybe-in-five-years-this-will-happen books.

Not side-kicks; not love interests - REAL main characters.

*sigh of happiness*

The Peripheral is hard to describe, but here goes: in an economically depressed near future we may already be living in, poor people with skill and time play virtual world video games for rich people for real money. Some of the games are violent, which is why the heroine's military veteran brother (who seems to have done similar work in a non-virtual war) has some work to share. But some of the game-world violence seems to have... unexpected, real world repercussions. Which I'm writing in a misleading way, because I don't want to give away any of the plot, and want you to be pleasantly surprised when you read this highly engrossing, page-turner involving immersive video games, mysterious Chinese servers, 3D printing, rural corruption, environmental catastrophes, and the way life becomes cheap when people don't have enough to eat.

If you enjoyed Pattern Recognition or any of Gibson's other recent books, I believe you'll enjoy this one as much as I did. It's up-all-night-reading good.


Valid HTML 4.01!

images and text Copyright © 2014 A. E. Graves, book cover images are the copyright of their respective owners

(posted December 1, 2014)

next by number | yes home | teahousehome.com home