Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Peripheral by William Gibson

I finished reading The Peripheral by William Gibson. I read the book as an electronic book in the Kindle app on my iPad. Over the years, I have read all of the science fiction that Gibson has written.

The story bounces between two different futures. The first future is not far off from our present day. This near term future is dominated by versions of Walmart and the meth trade. The more distance future paints an environmental post-apocalyptic sparely populated world built and maintained by nanotechnology.

The characters use a vague technology (a server in China) which even they don't seem to understand to move back and forth between the two timelines. As a rule, I am not fond of time travel stories, but this story doesn't really seem like a time travel story. At its heart, it is a murder mystery.

While there is lots of different technology on display, the story line revolves around telepresence. The characters use telepresence to control "bodies" (peripherals) in the other timeline. I couldn't stop thinking how much bandwidth and network speed would it take to do what they were describing! There is one small reference throwaway reference to this, but in general it doesn't seem to be an issue.

I enjoyed the book a lot. It was an engaging story and I love science fiction that plays with technology in interesting ways. I grade the book an "A-". I can't give a time travel story an "A"...

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