Эссе: Bryant, Edward. Review of All Tomorrow's Parties, by William Gibson


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Английский язык
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Эссе
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4

... He has been looked upon as a techno-prophet from the Far North, offering astute insights into human relationships with machine intelligence systems. He's viewed as a guru, however unlikely and unwilling he is to accept the weight of the label. And in the real world during the past fifteen years, everything about the cyber universe has accelerated. Today's PCs make yesterday's 386s look like kids' toys--except today's kids want the next generation of Pentiums or Mac's G-4 personal supercomputer. The Internet has proliferated like a runaway nanotech plague, offering astonishing excesses of benefit, bewilderment, and abuse. I suspect that William Gibson's value as a writer, artist, and cultural observer seems to be wrapped up in the kernel of one of the more intriguing characters in All Tomorrow's Parties. This is a novel replete with a huge number of interesting characters. The third in a sequence of novels beginning with Virtual Light and continuing with Idoru, this novel offers the leisurely luxury of continuing the existence of a variety of players. As the novel opens, it would seem two characters have widely divergent ambitions in regard to effecting some form of pattern on the chaos of next-century life as it's warped by difficult-to-codify change. One is Cody Harwood, a ruthless, ambitious variant on the Rupert Murdoch archetype. Harwood's a guy who thinks he knows which way the wind's blowing, and will move heaven and earth to ensure he's properly positioned to survive and profit when the storm abates. Then there's Colin Laney, the chemically enhanced information seer who lives at death's door in a cardboard box in a Tokyo subway station. Laney lives virtually full-time in the data flows, and it's the currents in those information rivers that enable him to figure out something really big is coming up on the horizon. He can divine the magnitude but not the exact details of what's coming, and so must depend on someone trustworthy to act as his physical eyes and ears. That someone is Berry Rydell, a perfectly decent guy who can never seem to hold down a job for long. Ex-cop and ex-cop show star Rydell is working security at an L.A. branch of a sinister Singapore-based convenience store. As the novel opens, the Lucky Dragon chain is fitting all their stores out with a wacko global link-up of solid matter "faxing" devices.  But Rydell gets kicked off his job and is recruited by Colin Laney to travel to San Francisco, the epicenter of whatever large event is crossing the horizon. San Francisco, and more specifically the Bay Bridge, damaged in a big quake to the degree it can't be driven upon, but has now been appropriated by legions of squatters as a brave new residential and retail world. ...