[_graphics/virtuallight.gif]VIRTUAL LIGHT by William Gibson
Published 1993 by Bantam Doubleday Dell
ISBN# 0-553-56606-7 (Paperback)
Reviewed August 19, 1999

In a nutshell, this book is extremely well-written nothing. It spends a great deal of time with characters who do little, and building up situations that go nowhere.

We're presented with a main character, Chevette, who is being hunted because she stole a pair of high-tech "virtual light" glasses. Gibson tells us all along just how spectacular and important the glasses are, but then does nothing of interest with them; they are simply the object of the hunt. The book would have been much more enjoyable if Gibson had properly directed the reader toward the points of interest, but instead he has a strange tendency to point out something that ends up boring, and glancing off the potential interest with which he smoothly imbues other items. He creates a fully realized world, but forgets to give us a compelling plot.

After what amounts to an extended chase sequence, (in which our hero, Barry Rydell, acts seemingly on the fact that he recognizes Chevette as the Other Main Character) we are presented with a solution that comes out of nowhere, in the form of a previously unmentioned group of super-hackers (the "Republic of Desire", introduced on page 315 of a 350-page novel). This rather clumsy deus ex machina simply fails to satisfy, especially considering the number of characters introduced earlier in the book who end up going unused.

Overall, this was a disappointing book with a lot of unrealized potential. I would recommend that those of you looking for good "cyberpunk" fiction instead check out Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash.


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