30.05.2010 02:49

The Bridge Trilogy

First time I read Virtual Light by William Gibson I liked it, but I didn't appreciate it as much as it deserved. Only after Pattern Recognition and the current series I realized just how good the whole Bridge Trilogy really is. To me the path towards Pattern Recognition is evident in every chapter, hinted in every reference. While waiting for the Zero History release I decided to buy the whole bridge series and read it again. I'm half way through now, and I'm loving every page of it. I was born too late to really appreciate Neuromancer anyway, it never influenced me, not like it did the previous generation. It wasn't even what introduced me to cyberpunk, it was Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash instead. Maybe that's the reason I love Gibson's recent work so much, his amazing portrayal of the present, his ability to spot patterns and nodal points where nobody else does... bits of the literal future right here, right now.

Virtual Light is set in the year 2005. Tokyo is recovering from a huge earthquake, and the society as a whole from AIDS. This is where we meet Chevette Washington, a bike courier. She lives on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, where squatters have built settlements. Visiting San Francisco, the bridge and Chevette's roommate (Skinner, a bridge veteran) is Yamazaki, a student of sociology from Japan. Another character is Rydell, a security guy and former policemen, who is brought in to help investigate a theft of VR glasses. Which just so happen were stolen by Chevette, on an impulse.

The second book, Idoru, finds Rydell working for hotel security where he befriends a guest, Colin Laney, a data analyst. Laney has a singular gift - he can intuitively spot trends developing within masses of seemingly unrelated data. Through Yamazaki, who is now in Tokyo, Rydell finds a new job for Laney. The assignment is for Lo/Rez - the hottest rock band on earth. The lead signer has just announced that he intends to marry Rei Toi, a software agent and Japanese idoru. Chia, a member of a Lo/Rez fan club from Seattle, travels to Tokyo to visit the local chapter of the fan-club and find out if rumors about the wedding are true.

The third book sees the culmination of all these events, and although All Tomorrow's Parties includes many of the same characters, it's not a direct sequel to either. The book offers its own story line, and is perhaps the best of the three. Laney can now see significant "nodal points" in the vast streams of data in the worldwide computer network, and he owes this gift to an experimental drug he received during his youth. Such nodal points are rare but significant events in history that forever change society, even though they might not be recognizable as such when they occur. Laney isn't quite sure what's going to happen when society reaches this latest nodal point, but he knows it's going to be big, and he knows it's going to occur in San Francisco. On the Bay Bridge.

What happens when we reach the nodal point? Finding out is a perfect prelude to Zero History coming in September.

Written by anrxc | Permalink | Filed under cyberpunk, books