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.
Although All Tomorrow's Parties includes characters from two of Gibson's earlier novels, it's not a direct sequel to either. It's a stand-alone book that is possibly Gibson's best solo work since Neuromancer. In the past, Gibson has let his brilliant prose overwhelm what were often lackluster (or nonexistent) story lines, but this book has it all: a good story, electric writing, and a group of likable and believable characters who are out to save the world ... kind of. The ending is not quite as supercharged as the rest of the novel and so comes off a bit flat, but overall this is definitely a winner. --Craig E. Engler
From Publishers Weekly
Gibson is in fine form in his seventh novel, a fast-paced, pyrotechnic sequel to Idoru. In the early 21st century, the world has survived any number of millennial events, including major earthquakes in Tokyo and San Francisco, the expansion of the World Wide Web into virtual reality, a variety of killer new recreational drugs and the creation and later disappearance of the first true artificial intelligence, the rock superstar know as the Idoru. However, Colin Laney, with his uncanny ability to sift through media data and discern the importance of upcoming historical "nodes," has determined that even more world-shattering occurrences are in the offing. Letting his personal life fall apart, suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder related to his talent, Laney retreats to a cardboard box in a Tokyo subway station. There he uses his powers and an Internet connection to do everything he can to head off worldwide disaster. Contacting Berry Rydell, former rent-a-cop and would-be star of the TV show Cops in Trouble (and a character in two of Gibson's previous novels), Laney first maneuvers him into investigating a pair of murders committed by a man who is mysteriously invisible to the psychic's predictive powers, and then into recovering the Idoru, who is seeking independence from her owners. Also involved in the complex plot, centered on the bohemian community that has grown up on and around San Francisco's now derelict Golden Gate Bridge, are several other returning characters, such as the incredibly buff former bicycle messenger Chevette, plus a number of new eccentrics of the sort the author portrays so well. Gibson breaks little new thematic ground with this novel, but the cocreator of cyberpunk takes his readers on a wild and exciting ride filled with enough off-the-wall ideas and extended metaphors to fuel half a dozen SF tales. Author tour. (Nov.)
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