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The Bridge Trilogy

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    The Architect

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What's this? Atnevon writing a book review? Not just one book, but a whole trilogy of books?

Hell has frozen over!


Okay, now that we've gotten that out of the way, I wanted to introduce all of you to one of my long time favorite authors: William Gibson.

For the uninitiated in super geekdom, let me give you a little background before we start here.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, William Gibson broke new ground in science fiction with a book that he wrote called Neuromancer. The book launched a whole new genre of science fiction novels known as 'Cyberpunk', and it set itself apart from other science fiction novels in that instead of hailing technology as the cure all to humanity or condemning it as the means to the end of humanity as we know it, it made a point to incorporate new and innovative technologies with the problems and struggles that our world faces today. Neuromancer was the first book in the first trilogy that Gibson wrote known as the 'Sprawl' trilogy, which included the books Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. The Sprawl Trilogy also incorporated elements from some of Gibson's earlier short stories, such as Johnny Mnemonic (yes, the movie was based on a short story that was only about 20 pages long).

But, more importantly than the fact that Gibson's work was able to inspire Keanu Reaves to star in his first intensely technology driven movie, Neuromancer and the Sprawl Trilogy gave definition to a new kind of global network of computer systems that Gibson called "Cyberspace". Having written Neuromancer in the early 80s, it is quite arguable to say that Gibson may have had a very large part in inspiring the internet to grow to the form we know it in today.

The only drawback of the sprawl trilogy, if there is a drawback, is that much of it was written on a typewriter, which makes many of the elements of the three books a lot more brief in description than they author probably originally envisioned them. Thanks a little more writing experience and the advent of computerized word processing, Gibson's second trilogy, the Bridge Trilogy, helps us get a much deeper look into the author's mind and his vision of the future.

Between the trilogies 3 books, Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow's Parties, we follow the lives of a Rydell, Chevette, Laney, and the Idoru Rei Toei. (In case you've begun to notice a trend here, there's at least a few artists that we play here on Second Shifters that had their names or song titled directly inspired by Gibson)

Rydell is probably one of the more pivotal characters in the three books and it might seem surprising to many of you, but I identify much more with Rydell than I do with Laney, the computer hacker. Berry Rydell is an ex-cop who is deeply misses his short lived career with the Tennessee police department he served under. Unable to find work as a police officer anywhere else, he consistently finds work in different forms of private security for businesses and people, and he quite often becomes an accidental hero in high intensity situations.

When the trilogy starts out in the future world of 2005 (Virtual Light was written in 1993), we learn that other than some major technological advances that have occurred, the world seems to have carried through its natural course. Drugs have become more potent, and we've been through several new STDs since a vaccine for AIDS came out. The most noticeable change seems to have taken place in California, however, where the state has split into the two states of NoCal and SoCal (Northern and Southern California). A major earthquake has caused one of California's larger bridges to now be transformed into a kind of ghetto for the otherwise homeless, which is where we find one of our other key characters living, Chevette Washington. Chevette is a bike messenger for a company called Allied. It's through her eyes that we can really get a sense for the horrific conditions in which the bridge community lives in. Some readers make the mistake of thinking that the bridge community itself is a representation of just how horrible and bleak the future looks because they've never had any personal experience with poverty, but Gibson's point in bringing the bridge community into so much focus throughout the trilogy is really to show that poverty still exists in the future just as it does today, and no amount of new technology can instantly save the world from it.

Further on into the trilogy we encounter a new breed of computer hacker named Colin Laney. I say 'new breed' because Laney isn't what you would typically think of when you imagine a computer hacker, and his talents weren't his choice. When he was growing up in an orphanage, the government began injecting him with an experimental drug known as SB-5 that serves to help merge Laney's mind with the data flow of cyberspace. Laney is able to view and interpret unimaginable amounts of data simultaneously in the same way that a savant can take one glimpse of a city and draw it ten years later to perfect scale with 100% accuracy. His abilities quickly get him a job that puts him in the midst of a planned marriage between a popular singer named Rez and Rei Toei, the Idoru, a software agent (artificial intelligence) that has gained self awareness. When asked to analyze the nodal points, or data convergences, between the Idoru and Rez, Laney comes to two realizations: 1) That he himself has fallen in love with the AI, and 2) That the world is about to change in a very major way.

The final chapter in our trilogy brings Laney, Rydelle, Chevette, and the Idoru to an incredible convergence that may very well represent the real world future that our society is heading towards.

A trilogy of books may seem a bit daunting to take on, but once you pick these up they really are hard to put down. Each book holds its own, so you can even read them in reverse order if you want to go for the 'Star Wars' effect. In any order, they're a great set of novels that you can easily pick up from your local library if you're looking for a good way to pass some spare time.
The sky was the color of a television, tuned to a dead channel. - William Gibson



    The Last Exile

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I think I need to read these!! :)
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Sometimes it's in the darkness that we truly learn to see.

I'm Dexter in training - so watch it! Imma watchin' you!

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." - Winston Churchill

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