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Virtual Light (Bridge #1)

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  15,582 ratings  ·  345 reviews
Berry Rydell, an ex-cop, signs on with IntenSecure Armed Response in Los Angeles. He finds himself on a collision course that results in a desperate romance, and a journey into the ecstasy and dread that mirror each other at the heart of the postmodern experience.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 26th 1996 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1993)
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Neuromancer by William GibsonSnow Crash by Neal StephensonThe Diamond Age by Neal StephensonDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickAltered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Best of Cyberpunk
20th out of 213 books — 864 voters
Neuromancer by William GibsonSnow Crash by Neal StephensonCount Zero by William GibsonMona Lisa Overdrive by William GibsonDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Best cyberpunk books
10th out of 114 books — 290 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I felt like Gibson created a cool world for the story to take place in, but then just never wrote the story. A messenger nabs some VR glasses and gets the help of some ex-cop blah... who cares? He just never got me to care about the characters or their conflicts.

I wanted to hear more about the dystopian California-states and the fancy VR itself, but then all Gibson wanted to talk about Berry and Chevette.

3 stars purely because of the world Gibson dreamed up, but if you're looking for a good stor
Was rather disappointed by this one, and I'm starting to get the feeling that Gibson's been writing the same book over and over. While the technology mattered in Gibson's Sprawl trilogy, Virtual Light seemed more like a on-the-run-from-bad-guys thriller set in a vagueishly sci-fi setting. The tech that was stolen could have just as well been a candy bar. I wanted to find out more about the plan on the tech (to rebuild San Fran after an earthquake), the Bay Bridge community, and all the other int ...more
I'm re-reading the early Gibson because I remember liking them and I can't keep the books straight. Virtual Light stands as high-quality, maybe one of his more underrated titles, at least to me, upon a second reading, because except for a somewhat abrupt ending, the novel is excellent. The book's true star is the bridge, and if Gibson ever releases a "greatest hits" of passages from his work, his initial description of the bridge deserves a place of honor. You can see him extending Ballard's inf ...more
Read "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson instead.
The last time I read this book was in the mid-90s. It came out in 1993, nine years after Gibson's Neuromancer, the novel that coined the phrase "cyberspace" and posited a world where we'd all be interconnected through an information network. He was wrong about the virtual reality stuff, but right about almost everything else. If Neuromancer was somewhat predictive of the future, Virtual Light reads like someone had gone to the future of 2005 and sent a postcard back to us.
Reading it now and rea
Ben Babcock
Last week Kevin Mitnick was on The Colbert Report to promote his new book, Ghost in the Wires and talk about hacking. For those of us who grew up with the Web as a fact of life and absorbed "hacker culture" through Hollywood, Mitnick's experiences seem somewhat alien. Hacking started long before the Web, of course, and even today hacking is nothing like what one sees on the movies. However, it's just in this decade that we, as a society, are beginning to understand and react to the effects of ...more
Max Ostrovsky
As a teenager, I remember I loved William Gibson. I loved Neuromancer. Now, after reading this book, I'm no longer sure. His writing skills are sound, but just couldn't get interested in a story about some lost VR glasses. I think that Gibson spent too much time creating a world for this story, in this very short book, that he left out what would make it an interesting story.

Eh, that's okay. A friend told me that Neuromancer was the only decent thing he wrote anyway.
A cyberpunk book—by cyberpunk's inventor—that plays, fairly effectively, on the uneasiness and fears that increasing numbers of people may have about issues such as computer hacking, erosion of privacy in the information age, and societal decay or disruption. For all its dark and depressing atmosphere, evoking a rather nasty and brutal near-future, the story and writing feels rather inconsequential (I'm not even sure if there was a proper plot), and provides no useful clues about how to live in ...more
Rydell picked up Monica's copy of People and found a picture of Gudrun Weaver and the Reverend Wayne Fallon. Gudrun Weaver looked like an actress in her forties. Fallon looked like a possum with hair-implants and a ten-thousand-dollar tuxedo.

Synopsis: In post-apocalyptic California, two people's lives collide. Rydell, a rent-a-cop who attracts trouble like *ahem* honey attracts flies, and Chevette, just a girl in the wrong place at the wrong time, unaware that she's stepped in it, bigtime, on a
This is the first book of the Bridge trilogy - I've actually read the third book already and liked it a great deal. There was an artfulness to the writing and characterization. This book does seem less polished and lacking some of nuance in All Tomorrow's Parties. But I think many people do not really understand Gibson - they read his books looking for technology and world-building, when Gibson is much more interested in psychology and characters. Specifically, he is describing what the post-ind ...more
Oct 24, 2007 Monk rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gibson Fans, Cyberpunk Enthusiasts
While many others tout the Neuromancer based books (Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive), I must admit this novel is a strong beginning for his next trilogy (though better followups with Idoru and All Tomorrow's Parties could have been better). The story is solid though the ending comes quickly and resolves on a flat note. However, the range of characters and the concepts presented make up for this to a large degree, from Barry, a down on his luck rent-a-cop, to his hypochondriac, hyper-allergenic p ...more
So I'm continuing the Gibson jag I'm on. This one's the first in the Bridge trilogy, another set of novels set in a future dystopia. This time, though, he's more tuned into portraiture than hardware.

What's interesting is that the tech which is so much a part of the fabric of the earlier Sprawl trilogy is here relegated to the background. The virtual light of the title ends up playing a role similar to that of Marcellus Wallace's briefcase in Pulp Fiction, or the statue in The Maltese Falcon. Th
Mina Villalobos
Probably the least engaging book of Gibson I have read so far, this one is a very competent story with great storytelling that somehow fails to deliver on the plot-plot. I mean, it was fun and fast paced and interesting and an interpretation of our social future, and it had lots of interesting background choices of historical events and crazy urban tribes and religions created for the universe, along with Gibson's trademark shifting POVs and archetypal characters. It was good, it was fun, it was ...more
Max Renn
Part two of the William Gibson re-read project. Following quickly on the heels of the Blue Ant trilogy, and not having read the Bridge Trilogy for some time, I am struck by the vigorous naturalism of this book.

It will sound strange, particularly since this book is designed by Harakawa Sisco in what was im sure at the time a very hip but destined to date badly 'cyber' style, but this might actually be the grittiest, most organic of the three Gibson trilogies.

If the Blue Ant trilogy feels more lik
Rita Monticelli
Scroll down for the English version.

Il padre del cyberpunk non mi ha convinto

Questo romanzo mi ha lasciato perplessa sin dalle sue prime righe. Ammetto di aver riletto la prima pagina un paio di volte, poiché non mi era chiaro di chi stesse parlando, dove si trovasse e soprattutto cosa stesse facendo. Mai mi era capitato di imbattermi in un incipit così incomprensibile, che a mio parere avrebbe scoraggiato i più.
Ma io sono caparbia e sono andata avanti.
Nel procedere, l'ambientazione, i pers
Cyndy Aleo
A huge William Gibson fan, I honest have to say I had never read anything of his, from short stories to novels, that I ever truly hated. When Virtual Light was released back in 1993, I was there within the week to pay full retail for the hardcover and devour it with my usual relish. By the third paragraph, I realized I wasn't reading the usual Gibson novel, and by the time I was halfway through, I was pretty darn sure that I would never re-read the book. Well, never say never, because I've been ...more
Reading something like this after something like Snow Crash can only really leave you feeling one thing. There's no real comparison. This is basically Snow Crash Lite.

William Gibson wrote an occasionally entertaining novel of an interesting possible future with some very good observations about humanity BUT it's characters and story structure are so similar to Neal Stephenson's masterpiece of the genre that you can't help but compare. Virtual Light will always lose, not least because Berry Rydel
Unsurprisingly, Gibson's "Virtual Light" holds up in its prescience...its technologic view of an accelerated future with its big, rusty hooks firmly in the present (the present of 1993 as well as the present of 2015). With its well-thought out characters and immeasurably rich setting, this is one of the better noir stories I've read (not to mention best "cyber punk" stories).
Gibson's world-building is characteristically strong. The plot, pacing and development of characters seemed off a step.

A middling effort, but I finished it. I'm not one to finish a book just for the sake of finishing it - something needs to keep me going and this novel did. Luckily it's short length aided in reading one of Gibson's lessor works. Even a lessor work of Gibson's is better than most. Every writer is allowed books that don't quite hit the mark, especially if they, like Gibson, have p
A near future, scifi murder mystery detective novel -- none of those descriptors quite fit, but together they more or less describe the book. I found the early chapters a bit confusing as they jumped from scene to scene, most introducing new characters with no immediately apparent connection to prior scenes or characters. But, soon connections become clear, the book takes off and we learn how and why our main characters, Rydell and Chevette, become connected. Rydell is really a "good" cop, tryin ...more
Okay, here's the thing: this book is FUN. Essentially you have a good cop accidentally getting railroaded, a good poor person who makes one mistake and pays the price, and then some evil corporation stuff and then it's just a fun little chase. Light, slight, well-written and fun. You get to hear about the near future Gibson imagined, which is interesting, you get to see some really interesting main protagonists, who are more fully fleshed out and intriguing than usually happens with these things ...more
Ongun Durhan
QUICK PREFIX: Goodreads didn't save my review when I accidentally deleted it TWICE so I had to rewrite this three times. A little respect would be appreciated (that goes for you too, dear Goodreads moderators).

First of all, let me say that my distaste for '’Neuromancer’’ was only mitigated by the fact that it had been two years since I’d read the book, and that made all the difference when I picked up ‘’Virtual Light’’. Back then, the disjointed narrative and seemingly pointless pessimism of the
William Gibson's "Virtual Light" is the first book in his "Bridge Trilogy." As I noted in my review of Idoru, I read this first book after having read the second. I'm happy to say that the ordering issue wasn't a problem since the books are almost entirely independent. Similarly, the writing in this book is almost identical to that in Idoru: "Gibson does a fine job here. It's his usual futuristic cyber-type of world, well-written, with good characters. My only complaint is that there's a bit of ...more
Ismael Galvan
Virtual Light finally pulled it off for me. Gibson tightened his writing enough for the reader to keep abreast. Unfortunately it came at the heavy price of sacrificing the mind-bending cyberpunk effects. The story is more of a futuristic noir about Chevette, a spunky message courier, who steals a pair of sunglasses while making a drop. The sunglasses, though, are a valuable computer that belongs for very violent people. The chase ensues.

The bummer is that sunglasses's technology never expresses
Sam Julian
Aug 31, 2015 Sam Julian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sam by: Sarah Guerrero
I really enjoyed imagining the world of this book while commuting to work every day past the bay bridge.

A lot of what Gibson wrote here is very prescient, a lot of other stuff is almost laughably off. The big reveal at the end where (view spoiler) is meant to read as mind blowing, but it really doesn't have the same impact. That's supposed to be novel, while at the same time (view spoiler)
Johanna MacDonald
The only reason I can't five-star this one is because I can't help coming up against Gibson's later prose, which I find a bit more polished than in Virtual Light. Having said that, it's astonishing to read this in 2012. Everything from private security armies to Google Glasses to Anonymous features in here - a book written nearly two decades ago. Plus it's a great story with zippy characters.
Virtual Light by William Gibson was the first book in the “Bridge Trilogy” written by Gibson. Gibson is well known for his science fiction novels and thats the genre Virtual Light falls under. The title “Virtual Light” suggests the book has a futuristic and sci-fi setting with unique plot that goes along with the setting. The title fits the novel well in my perspective. He gives a modern place a futuristic setting, once you figure this out in the novel the easier the book will flow. I found read ...more
Gibson details a very interesting world, and his stylistic writing oozes out a lot of attention to detail on how characters would talk and live in a post-modern society, as well as fleeting story details.

The overall plot isn't that complicated with just a few twists and turns, but its the world building and some interesting characters that keep you coming.

For a bookabout virtual glasses with secret info, there isnt actually much virtual glasses or secret info discussed.

The book moves at a nice p
Of the three Gibson trilogies, I'm pretty sure this one is my favorite. Still future-sci-fi, but more bladerunner/star wars than star trek. So much fun.

And of course all the description of bikes and off-grid living in an urban environment sounds more and more prescient.
Charles Kerns
Dystopic details (“Fine, dry, flakes of fecal snow”), language with attitude, techy goodies, a god-awful font and page layout, and anti-nostalgic looks at defunct San Francisco, LA, and Mexico City, all woven into a mashup of current historical forces pushed out twenty plus years: privatization (Golden Gate Park is now the gated SkyWalker), militarization, globalization (Singapore runs things) in a coming-of-age thriller showcasing the naïve, tough bike messenger, her senile old fart roomie, the ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the father of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction, having coined the term cyberspace in 1982 and popularized it in his first novel, Neuromancer(1984), which has sold more than 6.5 million copies wor
More about William Gibson...

Other Books in the Series

Bridge (3 books)
  • Idoru (Bridge, #2)
  • All Tomorrow's Parties (Bridge, #3)
Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1) Pattern Recognition (Blue Ant, #1) Count Zero (Sprawl, #2) Burning Chrome Mona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3)

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“Well,' Rydell said, trying to pick up his end, 'I was watching this one old movie last night-'

Sublett perked up. 'Which one?'

Dunno,' Rydell said. 'This guy's in L.A. and he's just met this girl. Then he picks up a pay phone, 'cause it's ringing. Late at night. It's some guy in a missile silo somewhere who knows they've just launched theirs at the Russians. He's trying to phone his dad, or his brother, or something. Says the world's gonna end in short order. Then the guy who answered the phone hears these soldiers come in and shoot the guy. The guy on the phone, I mean.'

Suhlett closed his eyes, scanning his inner trivia-banks. 'Yeah? How's it end?'

Dunno,' Rydell said. 'I went to sleep.”
“Berry,” Pursley said, “you’re in trouble, son. A cop. And an honest one. In trouble. In deep, spectacular, and, please, I have to say this, clearly heroic shit.” 1 likes
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