The Peripheral is one of only a few books I have read on my Kindle and, as you would expect from the masterful science fiction writer, it is jam packed full of great invention and future predictions.
The first 100 or so pages are a bit of a nightmare to read to be honest as they contain an overwhelming amount of information written in a style that takes some getting used to. However everything becomes clear between around page 100-125 and all the pieces of what the fuck is going on coalesce into sharp focus. I say ‘pages’ but I’m talking Kindle pages so I’m not sure what that equates to physically, which is fitting given the nature of the story.
The story is all about people from a near-future in rural America and a far-future in London linked by a mysterious server so that people with the right technology can remotely visit past or future by linking up with drones, androids, little screens on wheels (all referred to as ‘peripherals’ or ‘peri’s’ in the future nonclementure).
Ace gamer Flynne Fisher witnessed a murder while piloting a security drone in what she initially thinks is a game but later learns is the future London. She is the only one to see the face of a man complicit in the murder and so becomes very valuable to authorities in the future. Unfortunately someone else in the future is out to kill her for the very same reason. Luckily she has pals who used to be high tech soldiers and gets help from the future people who can manipulate the stock market in the past.
There are scenes of stark high tech violence, insights into where robotics and avatar technology might lead society and an underlying warning about what we are doing to the world environmentally.
There a bit of plot point surrounding the fact that the investigator in the future can’t just show Flynne some photos of who they think the murderer might be, but if you accept this conceit then it’s a good yarn.
Some of Gibson’s books are almost unfilmable – the short story Johnny Mnemonic being the only big screen outing so far for his work – but this one could make a great film.