books: William Gibson flashes of excellence

Early William Gibson is so white-hot, not just the fantastic Sprawl series (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive) but also his short stories, adaptations, and explorations. My 30-year-old web page captures all his output back then, including the rarities.

It’s unrealistic to expect that level of achievement throughout a career, and his subsequent trilogies are pleasant nearer futures with drily comic observations, a lot of cultural and branding references, engaging characters, and not a lot of plot.

He’s picked up steam in the 2010s…

Distrust That Particular Flavor

book cover of 'Distrust That Particular Flavor'

Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson
ISBN 978-0-425-25299-4

★★★☆☆ Short non-fiction essay collection is essential for “Down the Line,” his sensational reverie on moving pictures from cave paintings in flickering firelight to a kid playing VR kung fu with classic movie characters.

Elegiac projected future sadness

book cover of 'The Peripheral'

The Peripheral by William Gibson
ISBN 978-0-399-15844-5

★★★★☆ The usual late Gibson: really short chapters intercutting, straightforward weak plot, the characters include a hollow man and a plucky young woman, it leads to a high-tech shootout. Add the tired Macguffin of time travel and my expectations were low. But the time travel has a clever twist, so that the intercutting is between here and now and a far future that’s post-post-apocalyptic; the rural dead-end and war veteran kids are fantastically well portrayed; the future has a bizarre trash cult. It’s the best late Gibson, and I enjoyed re-reading it.

Hilary Clinton lost

book cover of 'Agency'

Agency by William Gibson
ISBN 978-1-101-98693-6

★★★☆☆ Gibson returns to the setup from The Peripheral. In interviews he talked about how Trump’s presidency threw his plans for the book into disarray, so he adds an alternate history to the time travel Macguffin which comes across self-indulgent. It’s nowhere near as strong as The Peripheral, continuing its themes but shifting the present-day thread from rural hurt to the same urban flâneur vibe as his previous trilogy e.g. Zero History.

How did I do this?

This blog post has bits of JSON-LD describing my book review that in theory tell search engines what I’m explaining. The post “book reviews yet again” has the gory details.

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