The Peripheral

Woah. William Gibson's newest does not disappoint. A hard-edge sci-fi premise told with his signature style and grit. As usual, it requires a very close read, but the dividends are worth it. There really are so few authors who can follow-through so masterfully on such cool ideas.

The impression I get of Gibson is that he loves novels like puzzles; paying attention to how the discrete pieces fit together to form a much larger vision. There are clues, but as a reader you work for them.

This style of reading is obviously not for everyone, and for me it certainly can take longer to get through one of his novels. I tend to read them more in the morning than the evening, when my brain is often already shot.

In The Peripheral, often I'd have to read several paragraphs before any names are mentioned; the expectation being that the reader will assume the characters by way of their speaking mannerisms, or how the setting is described, in its foreign and minute detail.

But when the major mechanics of a story include continua-hacking and human-like physical avatars as interfaces between parralel realities, well, I think my reading group would have appreciated a few more affordances. Each chapter title could have been accompanied with a label for the continua in which it is set, for example. I think this would have been very helpful for me, and saved much re-reading.

The short chapters definitely allowed for a higher sustained momentum as I worked my way through the The Peripheral. I'd only need to focus for a few pages at a time in order to follow the story along.

I discovered this glossary when looking for reference material for my reading group. Very helpful!

Next up is The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin. It's the second novel in the "Remembrance of Earth’s Past" trilogy.