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All Tomorrow's Parties  
All Tomorrow's Gibson.jpg
Cover of the British edition.
Author William Gibson
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Bridge trilogy
Genre(s) Postcyberpunk
Publisher Viking Press
Publication date October 7, 1999
Media type Print (hardback and paperback)
Pages 320
ISBN 0670875570
OCLC Number 42136184
Preceded by Idoru

All Tomorrow's Parties is the final novel in William Gibson's Bridge trilogy.[1] Like its predecessors, All Tomorrow's Parties is a speculative fiction novel set in a postmodern, dystopian, postcyberpunk future. The novel borrows its title from that of a song by Velvet Underground. It is written in the third-person and deals with Gibsonian themes of emergent technology.

Contents

Plot summary

The novel's prismatic, fractured style renders its plot complex. It features three separate but overlapping stories, with the continual appearance of pivotal characters as narrative anchor points. The San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge, the overarching setting of the trilogy, functions both as a narrative link between the three lines of plot and the physical location of their ultimate convergence and resolution.

The first story features former rent-a-cop Berry Rydell, the protagonist of Virtual Light. Rydell quits a temporary job as a security guard at the Lucky Dragon convenience store to run errands for atrophied computer hacker Colin Laney (the protagonist of Idoru), who lives in a cardboard box in a subway in Shinjuku, Tokyo. As a child, Laney is the subject of pharmaceutical trials, which damage his nervous system.[2] As a result, he suffers from a form of attention deficit disorder but gains ability to discern nodal points in the undifferentiated flow of information, and hence a certain predictive faculty.[3] This makes him ideal for the role of "netrunner" or data analyst.[2] A side effect of 5-SB, the drug which was administered to Laney, causes the user to become attached to strong personalities. As a result, Laney has become obsessed with media baron Cody Harwood of Harwood/Levine, a powerful public relations firm.[4] He spends his life surfing the net from his enclave in the subway, searching for traces of Levine in the media. From this, Laney foresees a crucial historical shift which may precede the end of the world. He predicts Harwood, who had also taken 5-SB before (albeit voluntarily, with the knowledge of the consequences), knows this and will try to shape this historical shift to his liking. To stop Harwood, Laney hires Rydell under the guise of a courier to travel to San Francisco where he believes the next nodal point will unfold.

The second story concerns ex-bicycle messenger Chevette Washington, also from Virtual Light, who is on the run from her ex-boyfriend. She escapes to her former home, San Francisco's bridge community, to find refuge and revisit her past. She is accompanied by Tessa, an Australian media sciences student who visits the bridge to film a documentary on "interstitial communities".

The third story follows a mysterious, left-handed swordsman named Konrad. Although Konrad is employed by Harwood, he appears to be directed by his own motives. In particular, Konrad aligns his movements with the Tao, the spontaneous, universal energy path of Taoist philosophy.

Characters

  • Colin Laney – Data analyst with an ability to sense nodal points (previously appeared in Idoru)
  • Chevette Washington – an ex-bike messenger who lived on the Bridge for several years and is on the run from an abusive boyfriend (Virtual Light)
  • Berry Rydell – A rent-a-cop and former lover of Chevette who is working as a security guard at a convenience store near the Bridge (Virtual Light)
  • Shinya Yamazaki – Self-described "student of existential sociology" (Virtual Light, Idoru)
  • The Suit – an impoverished ex-salaryman who lives in the Tokyo subway and repaints his suit daily instead of purchasing a fresh one
  • Cody Harwood– A reclusive billionaire media baron intent on exploiting the next nodal point in history
  • Konrad – Taoist assassin hired by Harwood
  • Tessa – Chevette's media student roommate, who drives Chevette to the Bridge in her truck in order to make a documentary on its inhabitants
  • Boomzilla – A street impresario with designs on Tessa's balloon camera.
  • Silencio – A mute savant boy with a fascination with watches
  • Fontaine – A Bridge resident and pawn-shop owner who takes Silencio into his care (Virtual Light)
  • Rei Toei – A holographic idol (the beautiful "emergent system" from Idoru)

Major themes

Major recurring Gibsonian themes which feature heavily in All Tomorrow's Parties are the sociological impact of emergent technology (notably nanotechnology and artificial intelligence), millennial alienation, the commodification of the counterculture,[5] and the notion of the interstitial.[6][7] The author's fascination with Japanese culture is also exhibited in the novel.[7]

Literary significance and reception

The novel was critically well-received, with particular note given to Gibson's vivid, well-realised setting and dense prose,[8][9] though reviewers found its ending to be anti-climactic.[10][11][12][13] Sci Fi Weekly reviewer Curt Wohleber praised the "precision and economy" of All Tomorrow's Parties in comparison to its sometimes dull predecessors.[10][14]

Gibson scholar Tatiana Rapatzikou located the novel's significance in the fact that it had several motifs, themes and characters in common with Virtual Light and Idoru "without being sequential".[15]

In the words of The Guardian journalist Steven Poole, the novel completed Gibson's development "from science-fiction hotshot to wry sociologist of the near future".[8]

References

  1. ^ a b Sullivan, James (October 19, 1999). "Bridge To Tomorrow". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/10/19/DD42761.DTL&type=books. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  2. ^ a b Botting, Fred (1999). Sex, Machines and Navels. Manchester: Manchester University Press. pp. p.212. ISBN 071905625X.  
  3. ^ Nayar, Pramod (2004). Virtual Worlds. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. pp. 118–119. ISBN 0761932291.  
  4. ^ Brusso, Charlene. "The SF Site Featured Review: All Tomorrow's Parties". SF Site. http://www.sfsite.com/11a/all68.htm. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  5. ^ Alderman, John. "Apocalypse Later". MetroActive Bench. http://www.metroactive.com/papers/sfmetro/10.25.99/gibson-9941.html. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  6. ^ Schabe, Patrick. "All Tomorrow's Parties". PopMatters. http://www.popmatters.com/books/reviews/a/all-tomorrows-parties.shtml. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  7. ^ a b Linne, William (December 26, 1999). "William Gibson Hot On the Trail of `Tomorrow'". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1999/12/26/RV4162.DTL. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  8. ^ a b Poole, Steven (October 30, 1999). "Nearing the nodal". The Guardian. guardian.co.uk. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/1999/oct/30/sciencefictionfantasyandhorror.williamgibson. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  9. ^ Powers, Sienna. "Dark Party". January Magazine. http://januarymagazine.com/SFF/gibsonparty.html. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  10. ^ a b Wohleber, Curt (October 18, 1999). "All Tomorrow's Parties". Sci Fi Weekly. http://www.scifi.com/sfw/books/sfw4927.html. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  11. ^ Houston, Frank (October 29, 1999). ""All Tomorrow's Parties" by William Gibson". Salon.com. http://www.salon.com/books/review/1999/10/29/gibson/. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  12. ^ Clute, John (October 4, 1999). "Excessive Candour". Science Fiction Weekly 5 (129). http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue129/excess.html. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  13. ^ LeClair, Tom (November 21, 1999). "Virtual Novel". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). http://www.nytimes.com/books/99/11/21/reviews/991121.21leclait.html. Retrieved March 12, 2009.  
  14. ^ Burr, Ty (October 29, 1999). "Slight of Hand". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,271302,00.html.  
  15. ^ Rapatzikou, Tatiana (2004). Gothic Motifs in the Fiction of William Gibson. Amsterdam: Rodopi. p. 175. ISBN 9042017619.  

External links

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