William Gibson pioneered the cyberpunk genre of science fiction with his justly famous trilogy headlined by Neuromancer. In my opinion, Virtual Light surpasses his earlier novels, which is not an easy feat. This book has a lot more action in the real world than in cyberspace which is a plus for me because I love the gritty noir post-modern world that Gibson paints. Virtual Light is set in which was futuristic at the time it was written,
Hacking started long before the Web, of course, and even today hacking is nothing like what one sees on the movies. It seems like not a week goes by without another story in the news about a company or government database being hacked. Once information is out there, there is no taking it back.
It strikes me that William Gibson gets this. In fact, he understood it a lot earlier than most of us. He was writing about this stuff before I was born. Neuromancer is indubitably his most famous and influential work, and the Hollywood vision of hacking probably owes a lot to his portrayal of the cyberspace experience of console cowboys damn you, Gibson!
With Virtual Light, it feels like Gibson is looking at hacker culture, and its effects on society, from the other side now. The main characters are victims of hackers; they employ hackers; but they are not hackers themselves.
Nevertheless, Gibson turns them into tools for making information free.
Virtual Light is a little confusing at first. This weird private security guard named "Berry Rydell"? This messenger whom we eventually learn is called Chevette?
After the first few chapters, however, the story finally emerged, and its protagonists quickly followed. She ends up on the run with Rydell as an unlikely ally. Rydell and Chevette wormed their way into my heart.
As an "on the run from the bad guys until we can broadcast our information" story, it keeps me entertained. To really appreciate it, however, one has to be willing to dig further into the way Gibson approaches the role of hacking, the flow of information, and the stratification of society in a broken United States of America.Jonas whirling detectives, his A character analysis of the story a tale of two cities underrunning monumentally.
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