Book Review: The Peripheral – William Gibson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After watching the first few episodes of the Amazon Prime Series, I decided to read the book, and on the whole, I really enjoyed it.

It’s worth pointing out that the book and the tv series diverge on some major plot points, so both are worth watching/reading as stand-alone stories.

The plot centres around a character called Flynn, a 20-something American girl who works at Forever Fab, a 3D Print shop. One night while substituting for her brother, Burton, in what she believed to be a sim (computer game), she unwittingly sees a murder and is pulled into a dangerous game of politics some 70 years in the future. Repercussions of which reverberate into the past and create consequences for Flynn, her brother, and the world they inhabit.

Part of the book is set in a dusty and depressed Clanton, South Carolina, where you get the sense of a faded frontier town, good people, beaten down by the world and exploited by the powerful men who run the county.

The other part is set in future London, after an event called the Jackpot. A technologically advanced city that can use Continua to send and receive data to the past and back again. 

Using Continua creates a stub timeline, a fixed connection between the future and a new past. This connection can be used to communicate and for future technology to influence people and the economy. (Think Avengers: Endgame-style time travel, where the past is forked from the future’s lived past. The stub has a new and unknowable future).

What did I think?

On the whole, I really enjoyed the book. My only criticism was the ending felt a little rushed.

We have a long build-up about what the murder meant, who the bearded man was, and who might run the future-based competitor trying to attack present-day Flynn and her family, but I felt a little underwhelmed when the antagonist was revealed. Everything was wrapped up in a few short pages, tied in a ‘they all lived happily ever after’ bow.

Did it spoil my enjoyment of the book? Not really, the characters are great, and because I love Near-future Sci-Fi there was enough to enjoy with the descriptions of the tech and how it impacts daily life.

I recently found out there is a second book, in what’s now called the Jackpot Trilog; The Peripheral being the first. It’s called Agency and might offer further insight into what happened after the story finished, but it looks like it has a new protagonist so who knows.

I’ll definitely buy a copy though.

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