William Gibson

Book review: The Difference Engine

The Difference Engine.The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been on a bit of a Gibson jag of late, so I figured I’d revisit this, his distinctly non-cyberpunk collaboration with Bruce Sterling. I’d read it a long time ago, and I recalled it fairly fondly, though not too well.

Turns out there was a pretty good reason. (more…)

Book review: All Tomorrow’s Parties

All Tomorrow's Parties.All Tomorrow’s Parties by William Gibson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not with a bang, but a whimper. That’s how William Gibson’s Bridge trilogy appears to end. The final novel is enjoyable, though it’s shot through with frustration and missed opportunity.

The problem is that while characters reappear from across the previous two books, certain key characters are wasted, or used too sparingly. All we get of Blackwell is one unnamed appearance? Come on, guy. (more…)

Book review: Idoru

Idoru.Idoru by William Gibson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second in Gibson’s Bridge trilogy is much more enjoyable than the first. Well, scratch that – it’s enjoyable in a different way. I found it entertaining as one of its characters is demonstrably based on Australian standover man and garrulous toecutter Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read, which immediately gave me a cultural ‘in’ on the work. But also of importance, for me, was its focus on pop fame, and the construction of identity.

As ever, Gibson is a thriller author concealed in tech. He’s adventure by stealth, (more…)

Book review: Virtual Light

Virtual Light.Virtual Light by William Gibson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I’m continuing the Gibson jag I’m on. This one’s the first in the Bridge trilogy, another set of novels set in a future dystopia. This time, though, he’s more tuned into portraiture than hardware.

What’s interesting is that the tech which is so much a part of the fabric of the earlier Sprawl trilogy is here relegated to the background. The virtual light of the title ends up playing a role similar to that of Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase in Pulp Fiction, or the statue in The Maltese Falcon. They’re technical and advanced, yes, but they really exist to provide a motivation for the book’s events. It’s pretty refreshing to see something so fetishistic used for so base a narrative purpose. (more…)

Book review: Burning Chrome

Burning Chrome.Burning Chrome by William Gibson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you wanted to only read one ‘cyberpunk’ Gibson book and still take away the nut graf of his world, this would probably be it. Burning Chrome is a collection of shorter fiction: ten stories, three co-written with others. The title story is where the term cyberspace – so ubiquitous these days – first appeared.

It’s likely that I should’ve read this book before I embarked on Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, but there’s something neat about discovering these stories after the fact. It’s almost as if they’re a crib sheet for what’s to come in the trilogy. These are the seeds that grew, equally informative as they show Gibson’s talent for creating meaningful, engaging stories in shorter spaces. That, and his ability to invent junky dolphins. (more…)

Book review: Mona Lisa Overdrive

Mona Lisa Overdrive.Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the third (and final) entry in Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, the books which established the appearance of cyberspace. Really, however the internet is imagined, the roots of pop-culture’s interpretation are here. What I’ve found interesting reading these years later is how unimportant the cyberspace part of the stories are. Well, perhaps not unimportant – but less central than the rep would have you believe.

What’s important in these stories? People. Sure, information, hacking, breaking ice, constructed personalities and visualisation is a key draw – this is science fiction after all – but what pulls the attention is the personal side of the tale. Nowhere is Gibson’s portraiture more profound (more…)

Book review: Count Zero

Count Zero.Count Zero by William Gibson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second of Gibson’s ‘Sprawl trilogy’, and while it exists in the same world as Neuromancer, Count Zero has no compunction about shedding characters from the author’s breakthrough novel. Sure, there’s a couple of familiar faces, but the main players – a back-from-the-dead electro-merc and his target, a disgraced art dealer and her vat-dwelling Howard Hughes-alike boss, and a young-gun hacker – are new, and just as striking as any who’ve come before.

The snapping tension generated by Gibson’s shift of viewpoint between mission operatives in his first novel has flowered here into a tripartite narrative. There’s three stories braiding together through the novel. Obviously, we figure they’ll come together by book’s end, but watching how (more…)

Book review: Neuromancer

Neuromancer.Neuromancer by William Gibson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve had this book since 1989. I’d heard it was cool and, impressionable 13-year-old that I was, I snaffled a copy and was immediately confused by it. I couldn’t get into it, didn’t know what to make of it. I couldn’t go on, and it sat on the shelf since then, occasionally daring me to give it a go, but mostly biding its time.

Here we are, some 16 years later and I’ve finally finished. And my first thought on reaching its conclusion is that if I can ever jack in and meet some representation of 13-year-old me, I’m gonna smack him in the head.

It’s difficult to write about the experience of reading this novel as it’s so hard to separate it from everything that came afterwards. (more…)