William Gibson:Virtual Light

This is the first one of Gibson's books that I understood and liked the first time through. His Cyberspace trilogy kept losing me on first reads, and I don't even want to talk about The Difference Engine. But this one is very much more accessible.

In fact, I'd almost call it light-hearted, in places. It has a happy ending, nobody important dies, and there are a few outright hilarious moments.

The plot has the almost standard cyberpunk element of "something stolen from a courier that everyone wants to get their hands on". In this case, it turns out to be relatively trivial(no incredible new cybertechnology or military secrets; more like real estate secrets), so at least there aren't any major huge corporations after them.

Chevette Washington is the bicycle courier who steals the thing in the first place; she lives on the Golden Gate bridge, which became a haven for the homeless after it was closed to traffic. (That section of the book, incidentally, was modified from "Skinner's Room", a story part of a 1990 art exhibit called "Visionary San Francisco".) Berry Rydell is a former cop, former rent-a-cop, both the result of incredible bad luck. Now he's been hired to go track this object(a pair of goggles with Virtual Light VR, which stimulates the optic nerve directly without "real" light)and return it. But he's double-crossed, and then he and Chevette end up joining forces to try to escape with their lives...

The book is not without its tense moments, but it is not without its light ones, as well. Compared to Neuromancer, this is definitely fluff, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. Serious cyberpunk fans who dislike happy endings may want to stay away.

%A Gibson, William
%T Virtual Light
%I McClelland-Bantam Seal
%C Toronto
%D September 1993
%G ISBN 0-7704-2568-2
%P 325 pp.
%O Hardcover, Can$24.95

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com