Agency - William Gibson

This is a sequel to The Peripheral. At the time, I found the time travel aspect of The Peripheral to be really weird - something quite so far away from our current science being plugged into the otherwise very grounded-feeling sci-fi of Gibson's work seemed odd to me. However, it was approached in a very Gibsonian way that avoided all the concerns about paradoxes. Coming back to the same world in this sequel, it feels natural and unforced.

And it turns out to be a useful tool: The alternate timelines mechanism provides a way for Gibson to poke at how the world broke down in 2016. Brexit and Trump meant the world stopped making sense, so he set the core action in a world where they didn't take place!

Otherwise, it's classic Gibson. At the small scale, it's all in the style and the feel - detail-oriented and film-like, and a little under-explained. At the grand scale it's about AI and power (themes going back to Neuromancer!). And throughout there's the feeling of prescience that in closer inspection is careful study of the present, with just a little nudge.

My father has been seriously ill, necessitating a number of cross-country trips. I've been reading this on the train, and it's been a wonderful distraction during some hard times. It's good stuff.

Posted 2020-07-11.