last updated January 15th, 2008 and is permanently morphing...
(9 Et'znab (Flint) / 6 Muwan (Owl) - 178/260 - 22.214.171.124.18)
_All Tomorrow's Parties_ by William
Hardcover - (October 1999) 277 pages
Although Colin Laney (from Gibson's earlier novel _Idoru_) lives in a cardboard box, he has the power to change the world. Thanks to an experimental drug that he received during his youth, Colin can see "nodal points" in the vast streams of data that make up the worldwide computer network. Nodal points are rare but significant events in history that forever change society, even though they might not be recognizable as such when they occur. Colin isn't quite sure what's going to happen when society reaches this latest nodal point, but he knows it's going to be big. And he knows it's going to occur on the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, which has been home to a sort of SoHo-esque shantytown since an earthquake rendered it structurally unsound to carry traffic.
Colin sends Barry Rydell (last seen in Gibson's novel _Virtual Light_) to the bridge to find a mysterious killer who reveals himself only by his lack of presence on the Net. Barry is also entrusted with a strange package that seems to be the home of Rei Toi, the computer-generated "idol singer" who once tried to "marry" a human rock star (she's also from Idoru). Barry and Rei Toi are eventually joined by Barry's old girlfriend Chevette (from _Virtual Light_) and a young boy named Silencio who has an unnatural fascination with watches. Together this motley assortment of characters holds the key to stopping billionaire Cody Harwood from doing whatever it is that will make sure he still holds the reigns of power after the nodal point takes place.
_Wired_ Magazine, October 1999
All the heroes in _All Tomorrow's Parties_ wield knives. Chevette, the onetime bike messenger and second-best thing in William Gibson's 1993 _Virtual Light_, has one hammered from a motorcycle drive chain. Rydell, former cop, night watchman, and now convenience store security guy, sports a lightweight ceramic knife, although he doesn't much like its balance. And the mysterious Konrad, the man who kills without fuss or muss, brandishes the deadliest blade, the one "that sleeps head down, like a vampire bat."
So many sharp knives slice elegantly through the virtual realities and nanotechnological macguffins that populates Gibson's latest novel. And appropriately so. When Gibson, one of science fiction's greatest literary stylists, is at his best, he offers visceral detail ("helicopters swarming like dragonflies") even when promising transcendent change ("the mother of all nodal points" -- a moment in the near future when the fabric of daily life will twist profoundly).
Gibson wouldn't be Gibson if he spelled it out, if he eliminated all the ambiguity. His specialty is hanging on to that fractal edge without ever going over the brink.
From _Booklist_ September 1, 1999
Colin Laney, the "netrunner" of Gibson's _Idoru_ (1996), is hiding in a hovel in a cardboard city in the heart of Tokyo, with his eyes seemingly permanently attached to eyephones connecting him to the console on which he scans information from around the world.
Attuned to subtle alterations in the data flow, he can sense an approaching paradigm shift, one of the "nodal points in history." "Last time we had one like this was 1911," he remarks. In Gibson novels, change happens not in small increments but massively, in a cataclysm, an apocalypse. The approaching change here is somehow linked to Rei Toei, the idoru (a virtual being), who is at large in San Francisco; Berry Rydell, a former security guard at the Lucky Dragon convenience store on Sunset, who first appeared in Gibson's _Virtual Light_ (1993) and is now in Laney's employ; Chevette the bike messenger, also from _Virtual Light_; and Cody Harwood the "uncharismatic billionaire," whose plans to network his Lucky Dragon stores with the aid of a device that transmits objects across space are at the crux of everything. Gibson's protagonists are misfits. Their disparate stories get woven together in time for a showdown of sorts on the Bay Bridge, which has become a community of outsiders since the earthquake that made it unsuitable for automobiles but ideal for squatters. Gibson's new book is less a cyberpunk novel about virtual reality than one that realizes an almost recognizable future filled with new and exciting technologies. Although most of the action occurs in the "meat" world, Gibson's vision is inextricably linked to the advent of the Internet, whose possibilities he envisioned in the book that made him a big sf name, _Neuromancer_ (1984). Benjamin Segedin.
From Kirkus Reviews
More ultra-cool cyberpunk, sort of a sequel to _Virtual Light_ (1993) and _Idoru_ (1996). The disasters predicted for the end of the millennium never happened. Colin Laney, however, has a peculiar talent for seeing ordinarily imperceptible data associations, or nodal points, an ability brought about by childhood exposure to an experimental drug. Now down-and-out in Tokyo, subsisting on blue cough syrup and stimulants, he's perceived an upcoming event that will change the world, just as the previous one did in 1911.
Aware of a shadowy killer who leaves no traces
in the Net, Laney contacts his old pal, former rent-a-cop Berry Rydell,
Francisco, sending him money and a mysterious package. Others are drawn into Laney's virtual world: the weird, watch-loving boy Silencio; erstwhile motorbike messenger Chevette Washington; the mysterious inhabitants of the virtual Walled City; and industrialist Cody Harwood, who's dosed himself with Laney's drug and in effect is creating the node. Harwood plans to build a network of nanotech replicators, presently forbidden by most governments. Rydell's package is a projector containing the virtual personality, or idoru, Rei Toei. Harwood's shadowy assassin, Konrad, refuses to kill Rydell, and the characters converge at the Bay Bridge for a conclusion that's as strange as it is baffling. This familiar, vigorous, vividly realized scenario is set forth in the author's unique and astonishingly textured prose indeed, in Gibson's books the texture is the plotbut the unfathomable ending will satisfy few.
"I read that you were listening almost exclusively to The Velvet Underground while you were writing _Neuromancer_. From the title of the new book, can we infer that they are still your music of choice?
Gibson: No, it's just that I had always wanted to use that title as the title of a science fiction novel, and I thought this was a good time to do it. But I also thought that the narrative would reveal to me why it was called that, and it never really did [laughs]. So it's a little more enigmatic than my titles usually are."