The Peripheral by William Gibson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jacket Blurb: Where 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.
Read this for September's book group meeting. Read as an audio book.
This starts slow, builds a bit of speed, then you find yourself reaching for the book because you have to know what happens next. Peripheral is by no means a thriller. There isn't much in the way of action. No explosions (well, one that happens "off page"), fiery wrecks, high speed chases. If you can get through the first 100 pages or so, it becomes engaging. And I like engaging.
I think I've noted this on other recent Gibson reviews - the dialog and sentence structure can be disconcerting to almost unsettling. Short, choppy, succinct to the point of bluntness. It's almost a language of texting and tweeting. It's not far from how people actually talk, but in book form it's almost odd. Like the author forgot to put some extra stuff in...but he didn't. He put in exactly how much the book needed.
The book group noted they struggled with some of the terminology - haptics, the michicoids (spelling?), klepts, battle-ready solicitors, the viz, hate Kegels, autonomic bleedover, continua enthusiasts, drop bears, neo-primitivist curators, quasi-biological megavolume carbon collectors, heritage diseases, directed swarm weapons, and a synthetic bullshit implant. I thought each one was explained exactly where and how it needed to be explained, and the new "language" added just the right touch to create the setting without having to explain an entire world setting.
What also interested me was the alternate timelines and when the Future contacted the Past, their paths diverged, that the Future was no longer the Past's future, but now a stub, or, alternate timeline. That also conveniently does take away the whole "stepping on a butterfly" business or "if a man goes back and kills his father, how is he born?" conundrum.
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