Reviews > Published on October 28th, 2014

Bookshots: 'The Peripheral' by William Gibson

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The Peripheral.

Who Wrote It?

'The Peripheral' is a story you’ve heard before...But throw in Gibson’s trademark cyberpunk wisdom and you have something exciting and inventive.

William Gibson, the crazy genius who gave the world a novel called Neuromancer. He’s also been dubbed the “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre, which sounds pretty damn cool, you have to admit.  

Plot in a Box:

As a favor for her brother, Flynne agrees to cover his shift beta testing a new virtual reality game. While deep in the game, Flynne witnesses something nobody expected her to see. Instead of ignoring it, she investigates further, and unravels one hell of a conspiracy that hasn’t even happened yet.

Invent a new title for this book:

The Haptic Games.

Read this if you liked:

Daniel Suarez’s Influx, maybe. If it were more noir.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Flynne and her disabled veteran brother, Burton.  Also, in the future, we have Wilf Netherton.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

For Flynne I would want Tatiana Maslany (I’m convinced she can play any role), and for the brother, I’d go with Ben Foster.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Not really, to be honest. It’s basically a world of exaggerated technology.  I have a difficult enough time trying to make Wordpress format properly.

What was your favorite sentence?

I’m going with the opening line, because it hooked me right away, bringing something familiar (PTSD) and introducing something new (haptics):

They didn’t think Flynne’s brother had PTSD, but that sometimes the haptics glitched him.

The Verdict:

Switching back and forth between two different futures, The Peripheral is a story you’ve heard before: one person witnesses something nobody was supposed to see, and now she’s being chased by “the bad guys”. But throw in Gibson’s trademark cyberpunk wisdom and you have something exciting and inventive.

The Peripheral is a long book. At times, you will not want to finish it. It can drag. Much like other works by Gibson, you are thrown into the story with little to no explanation, no backstory. You must pay attention carefully and put together the clues to this universe yourself. There are technologies and conspiracies laced throughout the text, and none of it is really spoon-fed to you. This is not a complaint. This is a compliment, of sorts. You must work.

But does the work pay off? For me, no, not really. The Peripheral can be exciting in bursts, much like a lottery ticket blowing in the wind that you chase down. Will it be a winner? Ultimately, The Peripheral can’t make up its mind on where it wants to go, what path it wants to travel.

About the author

Max Booth III is the CEO of Ghoulish Books, the host of the GHOULISH and Dog Ears podcasts, the co-founder of the Ghoulish Book Festival, and the author of several spooky books, including Abnormal Statistics, Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, and others. He wrote both the novella and film versions of We Need to Do Something, which was released by IFC Midnight in 2021 and can currently be streamed on Hulu. He was raised in Northwest Indiana and now lives in San Antonio.

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