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The Peripheral

(Jackpot #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  23,567 ratings  ·  2,642 reviews
Flynne Fisher lives down a country road, in a rural near-future America where jobs are scarce, unless you count illegal drug manufacture, which she’s trying to avoid. Her brother Burton lives, or tries to, on money from the Veterans Administration, for neurological damage suffered in the Marines’ elite Haptic Recon unit. Flynne earns what she can by assembling product at t ...more
Paperback, 485 pages
Published October 6th 2015 by Berkley (first published October 24th 2014)
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Popular Answered Questions
Kevin Calman There are pants, but they were custom-printed at the Fabbit in the derelict strip center, not at the HeftyMart on the edge of town.
Gary Bridgman In an interview with Flavorwire, Gibson says (Not a Spoiler)
"And I finished it thinking, 'Oh my god, people are going to think this is a happy ending.…more
In an interview with Flavorwire, Gibson says (Not a Spoiler)
"And I finished it thinking, 'Oh my god, people are going to think this is a happy ending.' I’ve often been accused of gratuitously happy endings.
"What I think now is that the two final chapters comprise a litmus test for sociopolitical sophistication. If you think those characters have got it figured out, you haven’t looked at life deeply at all."(less)

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Jeffrey Keeten
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
“Eras are conveniences, particularly for those who never experienced them. We carve history from totalities beyond our grasp. Bolt labels on the result. Handles. Then speak of the handles as though they were things in themselves.”

 photo Neuromancer_zps29342235.jpg

Thirty years ago Neuromancer by William Gibson was published. The award winning novel was a breath of fresh air for a genre that had become too inbred. The new science fiction writers were too like the granddaddies of the genre only paler in complexion and not as bo
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Publication meeting at Berkley Publishing in early 2014.

Publisher: So, I liked it. But … what was it about?

Publicist: It was great! It’s Gibson, it’s going to sell.

Publisher: I know, it’s Gibson, and it’s going to sell. But it was … a little hard to follow, you know? What was it about?

Publicist: You know, I’m interested to hear what you think it’s about.

Editor: O for God’s sake! It was about a lot of stuff, it’s Gibson after all –

Publicist: It’s going to sell –

Editor: - it was about time travel
It was great to experience Gibson back in futuristic mode after a 12-year period of writing contemporary techno-thrillers. As typical of his classic cyberpunk stories, you are thrown in the middle of the action and have to figure out what the characters are up to from context. That includes strange new technologies and odd new terms. It’s always a kind of a thrill that you can learn to swim this way. The approach is frustrating and aversive to many, but it seems to be how Gibson inspires a motiv ...more
Re-Read 11/9/22:

I got the hankering to re-read with a buddy in preparation to watch the TV show. Not regretting it. :)

Original Review:

In a genre overloaded with lighter fare and simply garnished SF tropes, a novel like this from the wonderful William Gibson (of Neuromancer fame) comes along and not only displays gorgeous tech and implications overloading the text, but does it with fantastic prose, delicious turns of phrase, and a boatload of subtlety surrounding some very stark SF events.

His ear
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
“History had its fascinations, but could be burdensome.”
― William Gibson, The Peripheral


Gibson might not always be the most accurate futurist, but he's probably the glossiest, the most polished. I actually really dig Gibson. I don't think he's perfect. Sometimes his schtick gets worn a little thin, but I loved Neuromancer and really liked his Blue Ant series (Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, Zero History). 'The Peripheral' shares a similar aesthetic with the Blue Ant books, but jumps into th
Thomas Edmund
Nov 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought for a long while about how to rate this book. I had been initially intrigued by the premise, and there were a few strong scenes in the first half which while reading gave me hope of an enjoyable read. in the end however I found Gibson's The Peripheral disappointing.

My first difficulty with the book was the overdose of concept. Certainly Gibson would have wanted his futuristic novel to have a certain degree of jargon and new technical terms (and no-one wants to bog their book down expla
Jeff Jackson
I'm not rating this, partly because it doesn't come out for a while and partly because I'm torn about my overall reaction. The first half of The Peripheral contains some of the most visionary writing of William Gibson's career. He returns to science-fiction and offers up detailed versions of the future that feel as prescient and compelling as his work back in the Neuromancer days. It's exciting, thought-provoking, and wonderfully dizzying stuff.

Unfortunately, the second half of the novel grows
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Look, I'm not going to be remotely impartial here, okay? I'm a Bill Gibson fan. In addition to which, and to my enduring delight and the bewilderment of my 16 year old self, we're kinda friends now. I got this book early direct from the author, it's out in the UK today, and I'm going to go and buy a copy because that's what you do when a book is good.

This book is very, very good.

There are ten thousand people out there right now writing critical exegeses of The Peripheral. There's a great intervi
Althea Ann
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Eras are conveniences, particularly for those who never experienced them. We carve history from totalities beyond our grasp. Bolt labels on the result. Handles. Then speak of the handles as though they were things in themselves."

Yes... but I just have to say, speaking of eras... WOO-HOO - William Gibson is back in the era of the definitely-pretty-far-in-the-future! Not that I didn't wholly love his recent books that were in the right-around-the-corner-future, but I felt like we were catching up
“The non-mediated world has become a lost country. I think that in some very real way, it’s a country that we cannot find our way back to. The mediated world is now the world. We are that which perceives a mediated reality. I don’t think it’s possible to know what we’ve lost. I think there is a pervasive sense of loss and a pervasive excitement at what we seem to be gaining. (quote from the 2000 documentary, ‘No Maps for These Territories’) William Gibson

Gibson’s book, Neuromancer is touted as
Bryan Alexander
Reading a new William Gibson novel is both delightful and exciting. He delights with the cool, sardonic yet imaginative visions of the present and future. He excites with his uncanny glimpses of the future, grounded in canny selections from our time.

The Peripheral offers another pleasure, that of Gibson trying something new. His recent brace of novels looked at the very near future, each following a normal linear path. His classic cyberpunk or Sprawl trilogy envisioned a medium-term future, also
This book has a 5-star idea, but it was definitely not a 5-star reading experience. I certainly wouldn’t have gotten beyond the first couple of chapters if I weren’t reading it with a reading group. I suggested it because it’s a time travel novel by a well-known sci-fi writer and because so many of the reviews for it have been 5-star reviews. Plus, the premise sounded interesting.

The beginning of the story is set in the near future when using local 3D printing (sometimes with pirated printing p
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cyberpunk, kindle, scifi
Gibson takes on a traditional Sci-Fi trope in his own cyberpunkish, quasi-dystopian style.

It took me few chapters to click with this. I'm not sure, but I think its because Gibson's deep-end, figure-it-out-as-you-go narrative style works better with plots that aren't all that scientifically intricate. When added to some brain-stretching scientific paradoxes, his style can lead to some slow processing.

But by the first third, I was totally in sync. And by the end I was eager for a showdown.

David V.
Sep 28, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
Received this as an ARC via my employer Barnes & Noble. I began it today and after 24 pages, I remembered why I didn't like Mr. Gibson's books. If you're not a computer geek or a gamer, then you don't know what the hell he's talking about. The jargon and slang expressions meant nothing to me, and it was difficult to ascertain from the context------so, unfortunately, I'm giving up and moving on to another book. I'm not going to live long enough to read everything I want to read anyway, so I have ...more
Nov 09, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was ... even better than I had thought.

What I had expected was a clever scifi story laced with action and neat technology. What I got was a clever scifi story laced with action and neat technology that was interlaced and spiced up with creepy implications springing from accute socio-economic commentary and spot-on observations about environmentalism.

Flynn is a young woman growing up in a small American town in the near future. Her brother has served in a very special tech unit of the USMC
Tom LA
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can't give less than 5 full stars to "The Peripheral". One of the most beautiful, inventive and satisfying science-fiction books I've ever read. I knew William Gibson and I had read his "Pattern Recognition", a very clever thriller with some science-fictional themes based in our present time.

This is what the greatest science-fiction is and should be: a literature of ideas. Arthur C. Clarke, Heinlein, Asimov, Silverberg, they all peppered each page of their short stories or novels with a myria
Nov 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to pick the right rating for this one. It's as though I've ordered a chicken parma because I like chicken parmas, and this certainly is a very tasty chicken parma, but somehow I'm disappointed that it tastes like so many other chicken parmas.

Replace chicken parma with "book with a near future settings where some rich people with inscrutable motivations do something via, then for, then ulitmately via some spud from the lower social strata which boils down to one pivotal moment of agency clos
☼Bookish in Virginia☼
THE PERIPHERALS is just as frustrating as Gibson's other books. You might as well know that before you dive it. He has this writing style that throws the reader into the shark tank and it's up to you to provide some imagination and to just hang on, muttering all the while, before you are swept up and away.

Which is to say that I really enjoyed this book. THE PERIPHERALS is very much character driven and some how, without paragraph after paragraph of descriptions and explanations, he creates a wor
Executive Summary: A good, but not great techno-thriller of sorts. 3.5 Stars.

Audio book: I really didn't like Lorelei King at the start. But she grew on me. I'm not sure if she got better as the book went on, or I just needed some distance from my previous book. She's clear and easy to hear. She did a few voices, but they weren't very memorable to me.

I will say I started off pretty confused. I'm not sure if that would have been solved with some rereading of the early chapters, or if I just neede
Kristen Shaw
This was a tricky book that I *mostly* enjoyed.

Things I liked:
-The protagonist, Flynne, is awesome. Just generally a kickass straightforward independent woman. Gibson writes women really well, in my opinion, and this book is no exception.
-The plot is exciting and makes you want to keep going to figure out what the hell is going on.
-as with all Gibson books, the glory is in the details. There was obviously a ton of thought put in to fleshing out a believable and intricate alternate world. High
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Finished it!! Loved it.
Let me start by saying I find Gibson overall to be a very imaginative writer, fresh, inventive and insightful, wonderfully prescient at extrapolating where technology may take us in the near future. The Peripheral is a muddle of these things.
Muddle (mŭd′l): n. A disordered condition; a mess or jumble. v. To think, act, or proceed in a confused or aimless manner.
True to Gibsons’s MO The Peripheral begins with the reader dropped into a familiar world but a step or two forward technolgy-wise from
Jen Fairbanks
This book wasn't as terrible as many of the reviews made it sound, but it suffered from some issues that I can see alienating the vast majority of people who pick it up.

For one, Gibson immediately bombards you with made-up technological and cultural terms. There were a few that even by the end of the novel weren't clear in my head. If the first 50 pages of a book are so garbled with terms context can't help a reader unravel, then they're going to put the book down and never come back to it. I p
An Unsettling, But Brilliant, Look at the Future Courtesy of William Gibson

In a year that has seen an ample abundance of more or less routine dystopian near future speculative fiction novels – of which the least admirable was a highly touted debut novel about “word viruses” – William Gibson’s “The Peripheral” is an exceptional bit of literary fresh air. It represents the long overdue return of not only one of speculative fiction’s most important intellectuals, but also, one of the most noteworth
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
“It is,” said Lowbeer, “as people used to say to my unending annoyance, what it is....”
It's hard not to like a book with such sentiments in it.

I have been resisting this author for decades, mostly because he was recommended to me by my long-suffering wife (LSW), to whom I feel the need to make pointless displays of independence of mind, and also because he was popular with a certain segment of our society, and again see above pointless displays etc. One day, LSW and I were sitting around the
William Gibson’s storytelling skill is such that we read/listen to him string adjectives, verbs, and nouns together in the places we expect to find them, only to discover 30-40 minutes later that we have no earthly idea what it is he is talking about. Ah, but what does it matter? He is slick, cool, forward-thinking. Surely it will all become clear.

I like several things about his future world—the one that contains Flynn and her brother Burton. Composting toilets are no longer unusual, and virtua
Loring Wirbel
Nov 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While every Gibson novel carries a bit of cryptic uncertainty from its opening pages, The Peripheral is unique in both its overall cryptic nature and its droll, humorous style. Part of this is the result of the nature of the near-future protagonists. Instead of cyberpunk smartasses or Yakuza hired killers, we get punky but endearing hillbilly meth-head equivalents and disabled veterans living in a future rural Southern hill country where illicit drug "building" is the only occupation. Our primar ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Although I was a huge fan of "cyberpunk" author William Gibson when younger, I must admit that I haven't read anything by him since 1996's Idoru, mostly because the four novels he's written since then have all been contemporary thrillers with little science-fiction in them, which is simply something I'm no
Jim Elkins
A Misunderstanding of Fiction

Gibson occupies an unusual place between literary fiction and the kinds of fantasy and sci-fi that use language as a minimal, transparent vehicle for fantasy. He has been read by any number of critics, including Fred Jameson, as a sign of postmodernism and the digital age; and he has been taken as a kind of cyberworld version of Nostradamus, full of predictions about our future. The implied author of "The Peripheral" is clearly engaged in both activities; the book is
Synopsis:  In a small rural town in the U.S., Flynne and her brother Burton are hired for a security job in cyberspace. Flynne witnesses a murder there and doesn't think too much about it because it's just a kind of game. 

The story alternates every three pages with the second protagonist, Wilf Netherton, an early 22nd century publicist living in London several decades after an apocalypse called the "Jackpot". Only a few million people survived this, most of them the well-connected and superrich.
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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

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Jackpot (3 books)
  • Agency (Jackpot, #2)
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