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Publication meeting at Berkley Publishing in early 2014.Publisher So, I liked it But what was it about Publicist It was great It s Gibson, it s going to sell.Publisher I know, it s Gibson, and it s going to sell But it was a little hard to follow, you know What was it about Publicist You know, I m interested to hear what you think it s about.Editor O for God s sake It was about a lot of stuff, it s Gibson after all Publicist It s going to sell Editor it was about time travel Publication meeting at Berkley Publishing in early 2014.Publisher So, I liked it But what was it about Publicist It was great It s Gibson, it s going to sell.Publisher I know, it s Gibson, and it s going to sell But it was a little hard to follow, you know What was it about Publicist You know, I m interested to hear what you think it s about.Editor O for God s sake It was about a lot of stuff, it s Gibson after all Publicist It s going to sell Editor it was about time travel and alternate history and post apocalypse and corporate espionage, and avatars and Publisher Ok, I got all that, I think, and Gibson s great, witty, sophisticated and stylish writing, and also lots of great characters and snappy dialogue but what was it about Publicist What do you think it s about Publisher I M ASKING THE EDITOR Editor It s about a lot of stuff, Gibson can stuff a lot into a book Publicist It s going to sell Editor but it was a little hard to follow, maybe he could have added a glossary, or a prologue, you know, just to help us out a little Publisher That s what readers love about Gibson, he drops you into a great world building and you just have to keep up Publicist It s why they keep coming back, it s gonna sell Editor Yeah, yeah, it s gonna sell, but you think we can get him to add in some explanations, some crumbs along the path, I mean we re not all Gibson, the rest of us need him to step it down a little Publisher He ll never agree to that, Gibson, he s sophisticated and stylish, he s avant garde, he s state of the market, forward looking, progressive, he puts it out there and we have to catch up Editor But this one is hard to follow, maybe he could do a glossary for the language, it s not Burgess, but, you know, just a little hard to follow Publicist It s Gibson, it ll sell Publisher but what s it about Eras are conveniences, particularly for those who never experienced them We carve history from totalities beyond our grasp Bolt labels on the result Handles Then speak of the handles as though they were things in themselves Yes but I just have to say, speaking of eras WOO HOO William Gibson is back in the era of the definitely pretty far in the future Not that I didn t wholly love his recent books that were in the right around the corner future, but I felt like we were catching up Eras are conveniences, particularly for those who never experienced them We carve history from totalities beyond our grasp Bolt labels on the result Handles Then speak of the handles as though they were things in themselves Yes but I just have to say, speaking of eras WOO HOO William Gibson is back in the era of the definitely pretty far in the future Not that I didn t wholly love his recent books that were in the right around the corner future, but I felt like we were catching up The Peripheral leaps ahead, again, with speculation and extrapolation based on today s technological and social concerns, making the book feel every bit as fresh and timely as Neuromancer did in the 80 s.It also has a purely science fictional premise a method of contacting alternate realities has been discovered The exact mechanics of this are hazy, but once an alternate timeline has been contacted, the two remain locked in parallel It s not possible to physically travel between the two but information can get through This means that communication is possible and, with the creation of robot bodies, a virtual presence can be maintained Human nature being what it is, any technology with a potential for abuse probably will be abused In a world very much like what our own near future will probably be like, a group of young adults is caught in a dead end small town The local economy is dependent on illegal drugs Actual medicines are nearly completely unaffordable for the average person Veterans of foreign wars are physically and emotionally damaged and pretty much on their own, with only minimal government benefits Our protagonist, Flynne known online as Easy Ice and her brother occasionally pick up some cash by playing online games for wealthy players campaigns They both assume their latest offer is like previous ones but it turns out to be something weirder What they re told is a game is no virtual sci fi world, but an actual future.And when Flynne witnesses something while online that some people wish she hadn t seen, she and her friends find themselves in danger from people whose existence they can t even have imagined, and up past their necks in bizarre power games in which the fate of their world could be at stake People who couldn t imagine themselves capable of evil were at a major disadvantage in dealing with people who didn t need to imagine, because they already were It was always a mistake, to believe those people were different, special, infected with something that was inhuman, subhuman, fundamentally other Excellent, excellent book As always, from Gibson Highly recommended It was great to experience Gibson back in futuristic mode after a 12 year period of writing contemporary techno thrillers As typical of his classic cyberpunk stories, you are thrown in the middle of the action and have to figure out what the characters are up to from context That includes strange new technologies and odd new terms It s always a kind of a thrill that you can learn to swim this way The approach is frustrating and aversive to many, but it seems to be how Gibson inspires a motiv It was great to experience Gibson back in futuristic mode after a 12 year period of writing contemporary techno thrillers As typical of his classic cyberpunk stories, you are thrown in the middle of the action and have to figure out what the characters are up to from context That includes strange new technologies and odd new terms It s always a kind of a thrill that you can learn to swim this way The approach is frustrating and aversive to many, but it seems to be how Gibson inspires a motivation to get actively engaged in the problem solving that is a continual core to his mode of plotting The story evolves by alternating between two sets of characters in a myriad of short, punchy chapters One set work for a company called Haptic Recon, which hires itself for all sorts of information gathering and security missions with a focus on computer hacking and projecting themselves virtually through robot drones The main characters are two ex military guys, Burton and his buddy Conner, and Burton s sister Flynne Conner has lost limbs in some war and depends on cool equipment and prostheses to get around Flynne substitutes for Burton on a job she is told involves beta testing a new game and witnesses what appears to be a real murder of a wealthy woman in a high rise by some strange new technology, some kind of molecular disassembler Soon it appears that witnessing has made her a target by unknown enemies.The other set of characters also work for a new kind of corporation that mixes publicist work for celebrities, security, and mercenary missions A woman Rainey and her male boss Netherton are trying to manage a celebrity journalist and performance artist of some sort She has her tattooed skin replaced periodically and sold to museums Their client gets in trouble by invading a floating island of recycled plastic where a cult of neoprimitivists have set up a kingdom and riling them up to the point that her defensive drones implement a bloodbath Thus, you see the theme of problem solving efforts of hired hands being tapped when the wealthy create messes that get out of control The two sets of middle level techs find that their shadowy corporations are larger than they imagine and are engaged in a crisis and conspiracy of a large magnitude The characters are forced to up the ante by stealing classified technology In a marvelous projection of today s 3D printing, they can contract fabrication of powerful biological robot drones or drugs that turn people into homicidal erotomaniacs To whet potential readers I will share that the premise has something to do with one set of players monitoring and manipulating the activities of another set 70 years in the past The reader can t escape a powerful quandary of whether to identifywith the folks in recognizable near future world, which is in the middle of a slow apocalypse of disease, famine, extinctions, and corporate scrambling, or with the cool cats in thedistant and alien future that isstable due to government by corporate oligarchies that harness nanotechnology, AIs, armed micro drones, and robotic avatars.Gibson is often dissed for his sketchy characters that don t lend themselves much to emotional engagement by his readers For others that same cool detachment is the right stuff in noir traditions and hacker chic that makes them heroic Davids against the corporate Goliaths our intrepid Goodreads, Jeffrey Keeten, borrows from Walter Mosley s title to tag Gibson s leads as always outnumbered, always outgunned The characters are created with a few strokes and select revelations of emotion, but it feels pretty masterly to me They really sick in the mind with their quirks, ambitions, worries, their domestic lives Often it s hard to pick a lead character in Gibson s tales Here our omniscient observer hops among the perspectives of ten or so characters, but the two women characters Flynne and Rainey got my empathies for their humanity Still, the briefer time in the narrative with the real anti heroes was evenof a pleasure One wealthy power broker was a star for me in bearing her power in such a charming package LowBeer is an ancient director of an official MI5 type of state security agency, but she seems to haveworld wide power as a puppetmaster supreme between the two timelines Her spyware is built into the network everyone uses and gives her powers from all accessible secrets As evil as that sounds, I homed my hope in the prospect that she would turn out to be one of good guys The edge of suspicion kept me on my toes, like when she pulls an Orwell when the publicist speaks of terrorismWe prefer not to use that term, said Lowbeer, studying her candle flame with something that looked to Netherton to be regret, if only because terror should remain the sole prerogative of the state She really gets me worried when she speaks of the impact of tapping communications with the past, using a term that may or may not emphasize how little she might care about the fate of a past that is drifting away from her timeline The act of connection produces a fork in causality, the new branch causally unique A stub, as we call them.Mind boggling and fun is my best summary Two cautionary futures for the price of one A lotangles on the old pleasure meter may be reaped from Jeffrey Keeten s great review History had its fascinations, but could be burdensomeWilliam Gibson, The PeripheralGibson might not always be the most accurate futurist, but he s probably the glossiest, the most polished I actually really dig Gibson I don t think he s perfect Sometimes his schtick gets worn a little thin, but I loved Neuromancer and really liked his Blue Ant series Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History The Peripheral shares a similar aesthetic with the Blue Ant books, but jumps into thHistory had its fascinations, but could be burdensomeWilliam Gibson, The PeripheralGibson might not always be the most accurate futurist, but he s probably the glossiest, the most polished I actually really dig Gibson I don t think he s perfect Sometimes his schtick gets worn a little thin, but I loved Neuromancer and really liked his Blue Ant series Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History The Peripheral shares a similar aesthetic with the Blue Ant books, but jumps into the speculative zone that he mastered with the Sprawl trilogy Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive The Peripheral is set in two futures One about 30 years from now, and another about 70 years from now The novel links these two by imagining that through a server in the far future, there is an ability to communicate with the near future The near future becomes almost a virtual game to the far future A place where Russian oligarchs and the elite fight tribal wars because they are bored, super rich, and a bit damaged by their own history The novel allows Gibson room to explore his favorite issues technology, paranoia, tribalism, corporatism, information, and mix it with a far future that possesses the ability to indulge their rich continua enthusiasts with an ability to communicate information not actual time travel back and forth with their past our future That jump postulation allows Gibson room to riff on how a window, a thin window between time, allows for the transfer of technology, etc., that can unsettle both economies and nations duh, but most things that ring true seem almost innately obvious before written down It also, because it is written by Gibson, lets him verbally play with fabric, fashion, tattoos, and other cultural eccentricities that he seems to always seem to understand a couple decades ahead of the rest of us One thing I ve noticed about Gibson is his ability to desex his novels There are both women and men in his novels Heroes and heroines, but they operate with similar skills and capabilities They both seem to exist in an androgynous asexual universe that isn t genderless or without sex, but almost seems to exist beyond sex Postgender , where gender is almost immaterial an after thought Gender exists with Gibson as a hanger to drape a clingy dress or a cashmere coat on and that is about it Perhaps, this came from his quick uptake on how the cyber world would melt the edges of sexuality The loss of a body through the Internet or the transference to another body interacting with the world through a drone or a robot cyborg suddenly removes gender all together, or allows for a bunch of different interactions and iterations with gender Anyway, if you like speculative fiction, fashion, or just a well crafted story, you could always do a lot worse than William Gibson And if his track record is any clue, reading Gibson might just be a window on what ONE stub of our near or far future might look like Look, I m not going to be remotely impartial here, okay I m a Bill Gibson fan In addition to which, and to my enduring delight and the bewilderment of my 16 year old self, we re kinda friends now I got this book early direct from the author, it s out in the UK today, and I m going to go and buy a copy because that s what you do when a book is good.This book is very, very good.There are ten thousand people out there right now writing critical exegeses of The Peripheral There s a great intervi Look, I m not going to be remotely impartial here, okay I m a Bill Gibson fan In addition to which, and to my enduring delight and the bewilderment of my 16 year old self, we re kinda friends now I got this book early direct from the author, it s out in the UK today, and I m going to go and buy a copy because that s what you do when a book is good.This book is very, very good.There are ten thousand people out there right now writing critical exegeses of The Peripheral There s a great interview by Ned Beauman in Sunday s Observer You want summary, assessment, disquisition I am not your huckleberry You need someone else With a book by a name author the only question is ever whether it s a yes, or a no.This book is a yes, with honours I m not rating this, partly because it doesn t come out for a while and partly because I m torn about my overall reaction The first half of The Peripheral contains some of the most visionary writing of William Gibson s career He returns to science fiction and offers up detailed versions of the future that feel as prescient and compelling as his work back in the Neuromancer days It s exciting, thought provoking, and wonderfully dizzying stuff Unfortunately, the second half of the novel grows I m not rating this, partly because it doesn t come out for a while and partly because I m torn about my overall reaction The first half of The Peripheral contains some of the most visionary writing of William Gibson s career He returns to science fiction and offers up detailed versions of the future that feel as prescient and compelling as his work back in the Neuromancer days It s exciting, thought provoking, and wonderfully dizzying stuff Unfortunately, the second half of the novel grows increasingly slack and ponderous, much of it padding for what s already Gibson s longest book His past few novels have featured excessively happy endings, making sure the main characters come out perfectly unscathed and amply rewarded for playing a part in his narratives The Peripheral amps up this unfortunate tendency to new levels with a conclusion that would make even Steven Spielberg roll his eyes and call for a rewrite Ultimately I d say the book is worth reading, but there s a truly excellent novel embedded in here that simply slipped away Reading a new William Gibson novel is both delightful and exciting He delights with the cool, sardonic yet imaginative visions of the present and future He excites with his uncanny glimpses of the future, grounded in canny selections from our time The Peripheral offers another pleasure, that of Gibson trying something new His recent brace of novels looked at the very near future, each following a normal linear path His classic cyberpunk or Sprawl trilogy envisioned a medium term future, also Reading a new William Gibson novel is both delightful and exciting He delights with the cool, sardonic yet imaginative visions of the present and future He excites with his uncanny glimpses of the future, grounded in canny selections from our time The Peripheral offers another pleasure, that of Gibson trying something new His recent brace of novels looked at the very near future, each following a normal linear path His classic cyberpunk or Sprawl trilogy envisioned a medium term future, also tending to thriller linearity.But in The Peripheral we see a very different conceit and narrative structure This novel relies on two timelines, one in the near to medium term future, and one almost a century away At first we follow these in parallel, trying to infer connections Then we learn that the further along future has discovered a form of time travel well, information exchange with the past, to be precise The far future signals the closer to us future, and has a proposition Or two Then , which aren t propositions but assassinations.This dual track time travel ish idea owes much to Gregory Benford s 1980 novelTimescapeOther parallels appear see spoiler section below.The future near to us characters are also thesympathetic They focus on a young, poor Southern woman, Flynn Fisher, and her family They live in a postwar backwater, where the economy barely exists apart from illegal drug manufacture Flynn helps her vet brother, Burton, with an online job and witnesses what seems to be a strange murder In the future farther away we see a PR flack, Wilf Netherton, working with a Russian crime family and their staff Wilf has made an unspecified bad move, and is trying to improve his situation To saywill spoil things, so in this paragraph I ll try to sum up what happens next view spoiler One agency in the far off future is manipulating the past for its own reasons, and hires the Fishers as proxies Another far off future group hires others to kill the Fisher family Ainsley Lowbeer, a London cop, or something like that, appears in the far future, with unusual connections to the Fishers time Flynn and Burton are able to interact with their far future employers via telepresence robots, the titular peripherals Wilf explains the Jackpot to Flynn, describing a series of interconnected, overlapping crises that killed the majority of humans droughts, water shortages, crop failures, honeybees gone like they almost were now, collapse of other keystone species, every last alpha predator gone, antibiotics doing even less than they already did, diseases that were never quite the one big pandemic but just big enough to be historic events in themselves Flynn also learns that by intervening in her time, the far future team has effectively broken off her world from the stream of time, creating a stub which can t affect their future, and avoiding neatly some classic time travel problems.The plot ratchets up slowly and steadily to climax in a party, where multiple schemes intersect Some, not all, is revealed, and the Fishers end up alive, very rich, and with a powerful edge on their present Wilf somehow survives, and ends up in a relationship This is too brisk and cursory a summary, but will do for now hide spoiler I mentioned earlier that The Peripheral has links to Benford s Timescape There are , but they, too, are spoilericious view spoiler Benford s future world is facing an existential crisis, due to events occurring in the past, so they reach out to communicate with the past to get them to change their ways Gibson s far future has already experienced the Jackpot, but some of the survivors want to change the past to mitigate the experience I dimly recall Benford s future coming to an end, somehow, and the past branching off into a new, better world This recalls Flynn s world cutting its way into a different, hopefully non Jackpotted world hide spoiler One of the pleasures of reading William Gibson is tracking his experimental words and phrases These are concentrated projections of a possible future Let me list some that caught my eye klepts, artisanal AIs, battle ready solicitors, court certified recall, the viz, hate Kegels, autonomic bleedover, continua enthusiasts, drop bears, period trains, neo primitivist curators, quasi biological megavolume carbon collectors, heritage diseases, directed swarm weapons, a synthetic bullshit implant, surprise funeral, mofo ettes, and a neurologer s shop One near future treat is the freshly printed salty caramel cronut.Some of today s words mutate in these two futures For example, poor folks don t cook, but build drugs Homes refers not to homies or residences, but to Homeland Security A very bad crisis happened between now and 2025 or so People afterwards refer to it as the Jackpot.Some of the language is simply cute One character has her name changed slightly, and refers to it as amputating the last letter of her name Another speaks of cleaning up the afterbirth of Christmas ornaments The Fisher family shops at a Hefty Mart.In a sense The Peripheral is Gibson s gloomiest novel Like the recent film Interstellar, this story begins in a bad situation then gets worse The Fishers are poor and ill the brother has seizures, the mother seriously ailing in a society that clearly doesn t care for them at all Their story reads like something from a late 19th century Southern backwater, or like today s worst countryside Characters have little help for the future What we learn about the Jackpot not only makes things horrible, but sets up a future that s inhumane Across all of these times looms the specter of vast economic inequality, of a society caring only for the 1%.There is a powerful sense that the far future is a kind of 1% taken to an extreme a lonely elite, casually breaking off temporal worlds as a hobby, easily committing murders Our lack of information about the world around London s far future elite disturbs me, theI think of it Conversely, the far future world is situated in such total surveillance that they see our Flynn s sense of surveillance as charmingly antique.How does this gloomy novel end, then Ah, spoilerizing view spoiler it s a happy ending, pretty much, although we don t learn enough about what happens in the future We well, the Fisher stub get to avoid the Jackpot Whew But Gibson doesn t want us to relax Note his comments in a Tor interview there may be readers who get to the end and they go, oh, well, that s okay, everything worked out for them But these guys had an immensely powerful if possibly dangerously crazy fairy godmother who altered their continuum, who has for some reason decided that she s going to rake all of their chestnuts out of the fire, so that the world can t go the horrible it way it went in hers And whatever else is going to happen, that s not going to happen for us, you know We re going to have to find another way We re not going to luck into Lowbeer.Worse, the Fishers seem like good folks But what will keep them or their inheritors from becoming klepts, with their vast power and advantages So this book ends up as a cautionary tale, a huge warning, and a goad to get us hauling ourselves away from the Jackpot hide spoiler Overall, The Peripheral offers solid future thought in an engaging narrative Recommended.I didn t read this one, but listened to it on audiobook Lorelei King was the reader and did a fine job, with the whole file running a touch over 14 hours King does different nationalities well, which matters in the kind of multinational world Gibson loves She reads with the right level of cool, too not a thriller s burning pace, but with a kind of observation acuity that I always associate with Gibson *DOWNLOAD BOOK ⇵ The Peripheral ⇔ William Gibson returns with his first novel sincesNew York Times bestselling Zero HistoryWhere Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare Fortunately, Burton has his veteran s benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMC s elite Haptic Recon force Then one night Burton has to go out, but there s a job he s supposed to do a job Flynne didn t know he had Beta testing part of a new game, he tells her The job seems to be simple work a perimeter around the image of a tower building Little buglike things turn up He s supposed to get in their way, edge them back That s all there is to it He s offering Flynne a good price to take over for him What she sees, though, isn t what Burton told her to expect It might be a game, but it might also be murder In a genre overloaded with lighter fare and simply garnished SF tropes, a novel like this from the wonderful William Gibson of Neuromancer fame comes along and not only displays gorgeous tech and implications overloading the text, but does it with fantastic prose, delicious turns of phrase, and a boatload of subtlety surrounding some very stark SF events.His earlier period was the one I was most interested in, ushering in the very term we use today, Cyberpunk , with equal amounts Noir underdo In a genre overloaded with lighter fare and simply garnished SF tropes, a novel like this from the wonderful William Gibson of Neuromancer fame comes along and not only displays gorgeous tech and implications overloading the text, but does it with fantastic prose, delicious turns of phrase, and a boatload of subtlety surrounding some very stark SF events.His earlier period was the one I was most interested in, ushering in the very term we use today, Cyberpunk , with equal amounts Noir underdog hacker replacing gumshoes against multinational corporations and governments, equally handy with a gun and a fist alongside a computer terminal, heavy experimental tech, and even the odd pantheon of AI gods The middle period is known for technothrillers and fantastically subtle explorations of culture, specific techs and how they change us in every walk of life I really appreciate his writing skill and scope, here.But now he has returned to the SF I loved most but I should mention this is NOT Cyberpunk Gibson has long left those roots behind, instead forging his own ideas of the future in the same way he brought about the genre s revolution in the mid 80 s The Peripheral isof a huge scope indictment of our modern world and the directions it is taking What direction Oh, just the slow decline and multi front failures on every front, giving us a dark look at what we will become in 30 years, kept focused on a small cast but with tons of subtle cues everywhere for everything else But things don t stay there We also have a kind of invasion from a hundred years in the future where most of humanity has died to leave only the decadent rich behind, using quantum tunneling technologies to reach back into the past, 70 years in the past, to be precise, to play their own games without remorse or much empathy Here we cross paths between these two complex timelines when our blue collar buddies from the nearer future get caught up in the games of the future, including murder and one particularly decent guy from that farther time tries to do the right thing The characters are pretty damn cool The worldbuilding is very detailed, and the tech never lets you take a breath We as readers are all supposed to take an active role A disabled military guy with tattoos that used to let him control complex drones Hell yeah Gaming systems that arelike souped up cosplay run through android like Peripherals Hell yeah Now how about using some of thosepowerful techs to game the living hell out of the past Muahahahahaha the scope of this novel is MUCH larger than the blurb would let you guess.I m reminded, first and foremost, of William Gibson when I think about this novel Secondarily, I d place him in the same complex turns as Daniel Suarez and Iain McDonald and Neal Stephenson This kind of novel is not meant to be popcorn trash It seriously considers so many huge points and does it with style and panache while never stinting on the blow you away tech and implications Do I recommend Hell yeah I thought for a long while about how to rate this book I had been initially intrigued by the premise, and there were a few strong scenes in the first half which while reading gave me hope of an enjoyable read in the end however I found Gibson s The Peripheral disappointing.My first difficulty with the book was the overdose of concept Certainly Gibson would have wanted his futuristic novel to have a certain degree of jargon and new technical terms and no one wants to bog their book down expla I thought for a long while about how to rate this book I had been initially intrigued by the premise, and there were a few strong scenes in the first half which while reading gave me hope of an enjoyable read in the end however I found Gibson s The Peripheral disappointing.My first difficulty with the book was the overdose of concept Certainly Gibson would have wanted his futuristic novel to have a certain degree of jargon and new technical terms and no one wants to bog their book down explaining every one but i found the book to be overwhelmed with terminology and assumed future concepts that for me did not gel well with a smooth story I even went so far as to purposefully slow my reading speed down and try and comprehend better what was going on Honestly the exercise only served to provide evidence that the action and description in this novel were poorly balanced.Second on my list of justifications the characters Aside from their esoteric names, Macon, Wilf, Netherton, I honestly could not tell you anything about the people in this book I couldn t even tell you who was the protagonist and who were secondary characters Sure there was a bit of action and drama, I challenge any reader to tell me a personality trait or characteristic of any of the players in this novel, as everyone seemedpresent to discuss futuristic politics than have genuine personalities.My final beef final I promise is that the general presentation of the prose was sporadic at best With chapters ranging from short to very short the pacing was jerky The overall one of the novel started as quite serious and dark, and somehow by the end of the novel was almost comedic particularly the chapter titles Of course often sci fi has elements of satire and humor, in this case however it left me wondering whether I was reading a thriller or a black comedy.It was a shame to not enjoy The Peripheral, I respected the concept, and there were some definitely strong scenes in the book Ultimately I felt like I was reading a draft that needed 3editorial sweeps and rewrites before it became marketable