Virtual Light

Virtual Light is a William Gibson novel and while reading it you will wonder what has happened to his creative abilities. Gone are the days of innovativeness seen in novels like Neuromancer or The Difference Engine (written with Bruce Sterling). Instead what we have here is a pulp fiction novel, with the high creative spot being the realisation that there could be many strains of HIV. Virtual Light is not a cyberpunk novel; it is a story about a cop in trouble.

And the cop in question is Berry Rydell who gets into these hot spots, the major one being one where his on-line computer is hacked to indicate an emergency in a residential apartment---only to catch the wife of the owner of the apartment and the gardener in The Act, leather and handcuffs inclusive. So he moves on to take an assignment under dubious auspices, to find a pair of glasses that were stolen in a party by a delivery girl, Chevette Washington. This is the romance angle. Rydell's search leads to the eventual discovery of a plan that will lead to San Francisco being under a computer network-based dictatorship, just like Tokyo. This discovery puts him a terminatable position, but using his newly acquired knowledge and enlisting the aid of a few more hackers, he sics Death Star, a riot control supermachine, on the gangsters chasing him.

Don't expect this to be a "cybernovel" filled with cool terms and thought-provoking ideas of the future. But it does make for a good read if you have a couple of hours to kill and have nothing better to do.

Pseudo-intellectual ram-blings || Ram Samudrala ||