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All Tomorrows Parties [Hardcover]

William Gibson
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 29 2002
William Gibson, who predicted the Internet with Neuromancer, takes us into the millennium with a brilliant new novel about the moments in history when futures are born.

"Gibson remains, like Raymond Chandler, an intoxicating stylist."--The New York Times Book Review

All Tomorrow's Parties is the perfect novel to publish at the end of 1999. It brings back Colin Laney, one of the most popular characters from Idoru, the man whose special sensitivities about people and events let him predict certain aspects of the future. Laney has realized that the disruptions everyone expected to happen at the beginning of the year 2000, which in fact did not happen, are still to come. Though down-and-out in Tokyo, his sense of what is to come tells him that the big event, whatever it is, will happen in San Francisco. He decides to head back to the United States--to San Francisco--to meet the future.

The Washington Post praised Idoru as "beautifully written, dense with metaphors that open the eyes to the new, dreamlike, intensely imagined, deeply plausible." A bestseller across the country (it reached #1 in Los Angeles and San Francisco), and a major critical success, it confirmed William Gibson's position as "the premier visionary working in SF today" (Publishers Weekly). All Tomorrow's Parties is his next brilliant achievement.

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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.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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First Sentence
THROUGH THIS EVENING'S tide of faces unregistered, unrecognized, amid hurrying black shoes, furled umbrellas, the crowd descending like a single organism into the-station's airless heart, comes Shinya Yamazaki, his notebook clasped beneath his arm like the egg case of some modest but moderately successful marine species. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A stimulation to the gray cells... April 6 2003
By Alaka
A brilliantly futuristic, 'digital' writing style, rich with metaphors that border on the surreal and a thought-provoking storyline leaves the reader with a faint tingling in the peripheral nerve endings. Woven around the principles of tomorrow's sciences - nanotechnology, virtual reality - 'All Tomorrow's Parties' is part thriller, part sci-fi and part a work of postmodern literature.
In speaking of 'wind farms', 'money in little tabs of plastic', 'nanobots', Gibson fast-forwards us to an era in the future. At the same time, he throws open the door to a new interpretation of history that is definitely mind-bending. His hypothesis: in every epoch, since the dawn of time, there have been 'nodal points', the points from which change emerges.
He speaks of such a 'change' again...
A set of apparently disjointed events flow in a linear progression until they all converge at a vortex. This is where it all ends, or rather begins - The Golden Gate Bridge. Colin Laney, who has the uncanny ability to predict the future by interpreting the 'data flow' around him; Tessa, an Australian media student at Los Angeles; Rydell, an ex-cop; Fontaine, a collector of antique watches; Cody Harwood, a megalomaniacal media mogul; Rei Toei, a beautiful, virtual icon, all converge at San Francisco. They are present at a decisive juncture in space and time to witness something, something which will alter the course of their destiny, their futures.
Grab a copy if you want to stroke your gray cells!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Colorful Characters Make This Book Great Dec 2 2002
William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties is a well-written and interesting book. Gibson employs an interesting present-tense writing style that challenges the reader. Through a wide assortment of characters and settings, Gibson creates a fast-paced and interesting story. He vividly describes his futuristic world where communities are created on damaged bridges, people live in cardboard boxes in subways, and experimental drugs exist that allow people to witness rare but significant events that forever change society. Probably the greatest element of this book is its variety of characters. They are all believable and unique in their own way. Gibson, unfolding a rich story, masterfully connects all these characters together despite their different backgrounds.
One of the main characters, Colin Laney, has taken the 5-SB drug. This drug allows him to see the world as data which he can interpret with relative ease. Laney believes that a "nodal point" is approaching that will change the world forever, and he believes that whatever happens will occur in the Bay Bridge area. However, the 5-SB drug has also left Laney obsessed with a man named Cody Harwood. Laney never considers the possibility that Harwood may be tampering with the data Laney interprets.

Despite the ill-effects of the drug, Laney hires Berry Rydell, a security guard at Lucky Dragon convenient store, to go to San Francisco. Rydell travels to the Bay Bridge and is given the device that contains Rei Toi, a computer generated idol-singer.
Other characters are woven into the complex plot that Gibson creates. There is Silencio, a quiet child obsessed with watches; Fontaine, the owner of a small collectable store; and Chevette, a former bridge resident fleeing her abusive ex-boyfriend.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult reading, overly-ambitious Sept. 6 2002
By A Customer
A few years ago, I started flirting with a heretical thought: is William Gibson really that good? After all, most of his stories border on being incomprehensible (if the basic elements of plot can even be discerned at all). His characters are both distasteful and uninteresting, like characters from a futuristic Jerry Springer show. Gibson is too impressed with his own stylistic flair to write a simple, comprehensible sentence that actually moves the story forward. Basically, Gibson inherited the worst traits of J.G. Ballard and simply added more stuff about computers and a vaguely "alternative" vibe. So why read Gibson?
In the end, there's aways that nugent or two of an interesting idea buried in Gibson's pretentious slop. Something that makes you think this is where the world's heading in a decade or two. When the idea comes together in your head, you say, "Whoa!" and usually spend a day or two thinking about it.
On that score, Gibson once again delivers, with concepts of "nodal points" and "existential sociology." But this book is an especially harsh read. I didn't give a flying leap about any of the losers around which the story revolves. Gibson resolved to write a story without any colorful adjectives - and I mean that literally. Nothing is described as red, blue, yellow, orange, sepia, or otherwise hued. Gibson had a point - reading the book gives you a strange, monochrome vision before you realize why. But it also makes the process of imagining the story a bit nauseating after awhile, and I firmly believe that book shouldn't physically hurt. Gibson has great ideas, but I wish he'd realize that you can tell intriguing, entertaining stories and still get across deep thoughts.
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Gibson is one of few writers who allows his characters a vision of the mechanisms supporting reality's existence. Characters like Rei Toei are composed of pure information bits. The character Laney's world, enhanced by his exposure to the drug 5-SB, is composed of computer bits. Laney has schooled Rei Toei to interact with the crude, sensual characters who people the ordinary world. Laney would no doubt agree with Ed Fredkin that "there is nothing as concrete in the world as a bit-it's more concrete than a photon or electron, ... it's not a simulation of reality; it's not something that pretends to be reality. It is reality." Laney's problem is that he suspects his own interpretations of the data stream are being tampered with by an outside agent, Harwood. He also has totally ambivalent feelings toward Harwood who he thinks could be a strange attractor -one bringing order out of chaos. Laney has at the core of his being an emptiness devoid of both light and darkness. This complicates the puzzle wherein he must struggle like a amateur painter to identify the future human datascape.
In Gibson's story there are two types of people-those aware of their bit or interstitial existence and those who aren't aware. Tessa, for example, is trying to capture the interstitial world on film. Those who are aware control those who are not aware. This interstitial world is made of stored data that can be shaped or programmed like clay. The heart of Gibson's universe can only be reached through an informational wormhole-a place called the Walled City. This place is peopled by the avatars of people who escaped from the human datascape and who can play with the pixel created characters in the story.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars THE WORST BOOK I'VE EVER READ!!
There is nothing compelling in this novel. The characters are flat and dull. I was not moved by anyone in the novel. The setting is bland and uninspired. Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2006
2.0 out of 5 stars A failure
Like so many others, I thought Neuromancer was a great book. I also enjoyed Mona-Lisa Overdrive, Burning Chrome, and Count Zero, to varying degrees. Virtual Light ... Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Silverwalker
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much of a story really and a little too weird
I keep hoping for another book as good as "Neuromancer" but not finding it. I don't think Gibson has another like that one in him. Read more
Published on Oct. 5 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is pointless
I'll give it two stars only because as a reveiwer's quote from the cover says, he's a great "stylist. Read more
Published on Sept. 10 2003 by M. Green
5.0 out of 5 stars Like Pulp Fiction...only post apocalyptic, with computers...
I had to read this book twice, the first time through, the first 100 pages or so were a little slow. Read more
Published on June 18 2003 by Hutch Jackson
1.0 out of 5 stars You have to be kidding...
I'm a William Gibson fan, but it's incomprehensible how anyone could describe this book as even remotely readable.
Published on Feb. 25 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Always thought provoking.
It's kind of amazing the way Gibson creates disturbing, alternative worlds and makes us believe in them, while at the same time linking them to the present world via surreal cyber... Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2003 by Verita
4.0 out of 5 stars Unfinished symphony...
"All Tomorrow's Parties" boasts an intriguing cast, a mysterious plot, and well-written internal monologue. Read more
Published on Aug. 8 2002 by Jacob
4.0 out of 5 stars Pushing that envelope a little bit more
In my opinion, another hit and another step along the current flood of ideas and passions that Mr. Gibson is going through. Read more
Published on July 11 2002 by J Maby
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