Author William Gibson is credited with envisioning cyberspace 30 years ago in 1984’s Neuromancer, which won three top science-fiction awards (the Hugo, the Nebula and the Philip K. Dick Memorial). He’s back with Peripheral, his first novel since 2010’s bestselling Zero History, and it’s a technological tour de force.
In a nutshell: It’s a thriller that follows Flynne Fisher, a professional video gamer living in a bleak small town in near-future America. When she volunteers one night to beta test a virtual reality game, Flynne witnesses a murder in 22nd-century London. Is it a virtual death or a real, coldblooded murder?
Flynne is able to travel into that dystopian future — in hopes of solving the murder — as a “peripheral,” a “bio-manufactured drone human body” that’s occupied by a human consciousness and looks, sounds and feels entirely like the real deal. Her helper on the journey is Wilf Netherton, a shady PR guy who lives in that future and also witnessed a murder. Now, the virtual Flynne and Wilf are working together to save their worlds.
“I hadn’t yet, in the 21st century, written any fiction set in an imaginary future,” Gibson said in press material. “Seemed about time!”
— Celeste Williams
by William Gibson
Audiobook: Penguin Audio, $45; narrated by actress Lorelei King.