William Gibson – The Peripheral (3 stars)

'New novel, as impressive, ambitious and layered as it is, might leave you feeling a little lukewarm'

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William Gibson – The Peripheral

(Viking)

Given how swiftly the world and its technological tools keep changing, it might seem foolhardy to attempt any kind of speculative fiction. But if anyone is going to make a decent fist of this with a crystal ball, it was always going to be the author of science fictions such as the cyberpunk landmark and internet precursor, Neuromancer.

But not content with ruminating on one future, William Gibson uses The Peripheral to cast his eye simultaneously on the near-future (in the rural USA) and 70 years hence (in a shiny London) as the lives of a female gamer Flynne and a male celebrity-minder Wilf clash and burn with hardboiled murder at the heart of it all. The constant switching from one story to the next in brief blink-and-you-miss-it chapters might be a reflection on our blindingly impatient culture, but it’s a disorientating and mildly irritating technique.

The white hot heat of technology might be cranked up to scorching, but Gibson’s new novel, as impressive, ambitious and layered as it is, might leave you feeling a little lukewarm.

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