A virtual marvel, March 26, 2005
Reviewer: Michael K. Smith (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
Gibson is possibly the most consistently original of any sf author of his generation. In this world of our near future (2005, according to the flap copy, but I don't think he's that explicit in the text), almost everything has been privatized, the U.S. has devolved into independent region-nations, and wealth and power enforce the divisions in society. Berry Rydell, a young ex-cop from Knoxville, is working for a private "armed response" outfit in Los Angeles until he screws up and is sent off to San Francisco as a driver for a skiptracer. Mr. Yamazaki, a Japanese student of social psychology and anthropology, is fascinated by the squatter community that took over the Oakland Bay Bridge, which was abandoned after the big quake. One of the bridge's residents is Chevette Washington, a bike messenger in the city, who looks after one of the aging pioneers of the bridge community -- but she also screws up, lifting what she thinks is just an expensive pair of shades from an annoying guy at a party. The glasses embody a secret that would destroy a lot of careers and Rydell's employer wants them back. Chevette is a marvelous character, as is Yamazaki, who enables the reader to see things from a truly foreign perspective. Gibson, a master of metaphor, never wastes a word. A terrific read.
"The courier presses his forehead against layers of glass, argon, high-impact plastic. He watches a gunship traverse the city's middle distance like a hunting wasp, death slung beneath its thorax in a smooth black pod.
Hours earlere, missles have fallen in a northern suburb; seventy-three dead, the kill as yet unclaimed. But here the mirrored ziggurats down Lazaro Cardenas flow with the lunimous flesh of giants, shunting out the night's barrage of dreams to the waiting avenidas--business as usual, world without end."
These are the first two paragraphs of VIRTUAL LIGHT, in which Northeren California and Southern California area at war, and, well . . . Read the book!
I post this with reluctance- anything by William Gibson is a keeper. As Monty Pythons' Flying Circus would announce..."And now for something different..." Wow! Right out of left field, yet quite believable- you will see real people living real lives in a world we will not ever experience but feels strangely familiar. You will love it or hate it.
Excellent story, great characters.
Unabridged, Ex-Library, High quality library edition audio. Narrated by Frank Muller.
6 Cass/ 9 hours
This was an interesting cyberpunk novel. I liked the characters Berry and Chevette and how they worked together to figure out the story behind the special glasses. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, Idoru.
The author of Neuromancer takes you to the vividly realized near future of 2005. Welcome to NoCal and SoCal, the uneasy sister-states of what used to be California. Here the millennium has come and gone, leaving in its wake only stunned survivors. In Los Angeles, Berry Rydell is a former armed-response rentacop now working for a bounty hunter. Chevette Washington is a bicycle messenger turned pick-pocket who impulsively snatches a pair of innocent-looking sunglasses. But these are no ordinary shades. What you can see through these high-tech specs can make you rich--or get you killed. Now Berry and Chevette are on the run, zeroing in on the digitalized heart of DatAmerica, where pure information is the greatest high. And a mind can be a terrible thing to crash.
Great SF story with lots of high Tech
Haven't read this one yet. I have double copies though.