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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Virtual Light

Copyright 1993 by William Gibson

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point    Superb (5/5)

I first read this in November 1994 and most recently on the 2nd July 2006

This is the story of Stephen Berry Rydell and Chevette-Marie Washington. Chevette, bicycle courier, in a tragic lapse from her customary moral standards, has stolen a pair of high tech spectacles. Berry, an ex-cop, is hired to track down these very special glasses. Once they meet it's love, love at first sight. However, these kids have missed the arrival of the new world, they're on the outside, barely able to peer over the windowsill at what's really happening among the adults.

Gibson sneakily makes the reader feel more and more that this just isn't fair. These kids have so little and know so little. Gibson has convinced me of the benefits of investment in education, apart from giving me the most amazing read.

When I finished the book, I sat back and thought "Yes, Gibson keeps getting better and better and this is the best so far". I'm not so sure that's the case (is "Mona Lisa Overdrive" better?), but hey I'm not so sure about most things.

It's certainly the most subtle, humorous and gentle.

Look for example at when Berry Rydell plans his payback. He has so little money that he has to borrow: a flashlight from a old friend; a denim jacket from a new friend; a "Eurocar", flywheel-powered and able to reach a lordly 40 mph.

And look at Skinner, one time leader of the Bay Bridge community, now he's an old, old man subtly tended by his aging comrades.

And Yamaziki, our viewer on to this strange, collapsed and hopeless country. Note that Tokyo, even though the big earthquake hit, has been rebuilt and that, because of Yamaziki's presence, we can assume that Japan, and the rest of the world, are not stuck in this failing, deteriorating limbo.

Loaded on the 16th December 2006.
Cover of Virtual Light
Cover art by John Brautigram

Reviews of other works by William Gibson:
Count Zero
Mona Lisa Overdrive
All Tomorrow's Parties
Spook Country
Zero History

Reviews of other works by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling:
The Difference Engine