The Peripheral

The Peripheral, William Gibson, 2015. ISBN 0670921556.

I watched a couple of episodes of Amazon’s TV-adaptation of this book, then bought the book and read it without watching any more of the adaptation.

The story takes place in some more-or-less unspecified county in Greater Appalachia, and I think Gibson really nailed eastern US rural speech.

The conceit at the heart of this book is that mysterious “Chinese servers” allow communications “across time”. The “main” timeline takes place in London circa 2150. The heroine’s “stub” timeline takes place in eastern rural USA circa 2040. The only way I can see this working is that both main and stub timelines are simulations, in the tradition of Nick Bostrom’s simulation argument.

I enjoyed most of this book, even going so far as to buy tee shirts sporting logos from a couple of the corporations mentioned in the book, Coldiron USA and Sushi Barn. Let’s hear it for authors who at least turn a blind eye to copyright violations like these tee shirts, because it allows culture to flourish.

My main comparison to The Peripheral is the 2006 movie The Lake House, although the time difference is much greater in The Peripheral, and The Peripheral is far better, although it doesn’t have Keanu Reeves in the TV adaptation.

I thought the ending was a too hurried to be enjoyable. Maybe it wasn’t even an ending at all. Some people criticize Gibson’s novels for not having proper endings, instead they just stop.

The Peripheral is the first book in yet another sci-fi trilogy. I don’t think I’m going to read the other two books in the series.