Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All Tomorrow's Parties

Just finished William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties, for the second time. I read it when it came out ten years ago.
This novel is the third in a postcyberpunk series featuring Virtual Light and Idoru, but reads easily standalone. For those that have tried and perhaps struggled with Gibson's earlier cyberpunk work, I feel that this novel in particular is very accessible. It deals with the emergence of nanotech and emergent AI in an environment, where clearly things have gone astray economically and the omnipresent gritty feel of cyberpunk is thick, however tech progress is still climbing inevitably.
Formost, Gibson's language is just beautiful throughout the whole novel. Often you'll see a few good chapters of rich descriptive detail, before a novel grinds off into the plot, but not here. The flavour and richness are relentless, the poignency affecting.
The characters are mostly compelling, I love the unnamed zen assassin character. He's just beautiful, not killing, just "completing a motion that had already begun".
The reveal feels a little flat, until you get to the very last paragraph of the book, when it really hits home. It's an ending that you may need to just think about for a while.
If you are new to the genre, I actually recommend reading this first. Then go back and read Neuromancer. That is required reading.

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