Like the book I reviewed last week, ‘The Peripheral’ is written by someone who, as far as I’m concerned, can do no wrong. The author is William Gibson, the ‘Neuromancer’ guy, not the ‘Miracle Worker’ guy. Gibson’s science fiction is in a class of its own. He’s among my favorite all-time authors, and his books regularly find their way back into my hands. I’ve read all of them many, many times.
Well, all except ‘The Peripheral,’ which was out for a good while before I read it even once. Yeah, I’m terrible.
‘The Peripheral’ is told through the eyes of two characters, Flynne Burton and Wilf Netherton. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. Seriously, any little bit of the story I try to describe will give away too much. Deal with it.
Mr. Gibson’s last three books, known as the ‘Blue Ant Trilogy’ or the ‘Bigend Trilogy’ (I was hoping to call them the ‘Great Potatoes Trilogy’; there were mentions of great potatoes in the first two books, but not the third. Sigh.), take place in the present, with no technology that isn’t in the reach of the common man. IPhones, wi-fi, GPS, nothing fancy. The story is built on our relationship to the technology, how we use it, how it uses us. It’s a step backwards in time from his earlier works, set in some unspecified future.
And that’s where ‘The Peripheral’ is set, a future that feels like it’s right around the corner. You get the feeling he’s actually come back in time to chronicle the future, our future. And he’s in top form here. His ability to build a strange, new world (but not too strange or new) without having to constantly explain every little thing is unparalleled. His worlds feel lived in, populated with deep characters. You can only get a sense of this world in a single reading, so you need to read his books more than once. Not much of a burden, if you ask me. I’ve read ‘Neuromancer’ more times than I can count, and I pick up new things every time. His books, therefore, are smart buys. So go buy ‘The Peripheral.’ Read it, let it sit on the shelf for a while, then read it again. That’s my plan.
But something to keep in mind: while the book was sitting on an end table, my cat Jack chewed the corner of the cover. So be careful.