Monday 28 September 2015

The Peripheral by William Gibson

I recently picked up The Peripheral by William Gibson, and a weird sort of thing struck me. It feels almost Dickian, by which I mean that it is on its way to the Philip K. Dick flavour zone.

It's turning out to be a weird experience for me. I love both of these authors, and not to suggest in any way that Gibson is losing his own personal flavour, but, the story feels like a polished PKD story. It feels like their worlds colliding.

Saying all of that though, there are distinct elements, and even ideas that feel like bolder versions of things one might've seen in Gibson's very early short stories. The ones in which the page looks right up at you, stares you right in the eye, and says, 'This is made up', but you end up meeting it all the way as it spins wildly, because it's good.

His first trilogy, that started with Neuromancer, is bold and reckless. Jammed with invented terms, mature themes, and cartoon vibrancy, it's completely unsubtle and unapologetic. It's brazen as fuck. Virtual Light and its sequels, on the other hand, are dirtier. Everything feels more real. Their world spins ever so slightly out of sync with our own, where Pattern Recognition is populated with characters that are believable corporate fantasy in a world that spins perfectly in sync just on the other side of the sun. The Peripheral is just the beginning of next world.

It feels more of a classic science fiction than he's written long form before, but it's all still distinctly him. They're his details. They're his characters. It's his world. More than that though, you can feel it in the words. Dick never spun like this.