The Peripheral

The Peripheral

October 28, 2014

The Peripheral is a wholly new and wholly original story of colliding worlds and accidental, hacked-together time travel. It's a split narrative, following, in one branch, Flynne Fisher through a near-future rural America and, in the other, Wilf ...

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The Peripheral is a wholly new and wholly original story of colliding worlds and accidental, hacked-together time travel. It's a split narrative, following, in one branch, Flynne Fisher through a near-future rural America and, in the other, Wilf Netherton in a future-future London.

The Peripheral is a 2014 science fiction mystery-thriller novel by William Gibson. The story involves multiple futures. Amazon is currently working on a television series adaptation of the book.

William Ford Gibson (born March 17, 1948) is an American-Canadian speculative fiction writer and essayist widely credited with pioneering the science fiction subgenre known as cyberpunk. Beginning his writing career in the late 1970s, his early works were noir, near-future stories that explored the effects of technology, cybernetics, and computer networks on humans—a "combination of lowlife and high tech"—and helped to create an iconography for the information age before the ubiquity of the Internet in the 1990s. Gibson notably coined the term "cyberspace" for "widespread, interconnected digital technology" in his short story "Burning Chrome" (1982), and later popularized the concept in his acclaimed debut novel Neuromancer (1984). These early works of Gibson's have been credited with "renovating" science fiction literature in the 1980s.


After expanding on the story in Neuromancer with two more novels, thus completing the dystopic Sprawl trilogy, Gibson collaborated with Bruce Sterling on the alternate history novel The Difference Engine (1990), which became an important work of the science fiction subgenre known as steampunk. In the 1990s, Gibson composed the Bridge trilogy of novels, which explored the sociological developments of near-future urban environments, postindustrial society, and late capitalism. Following the turn of the century and the events of 9/11, Gibson emerged with a string of increasingly realist novels—Pattern Recognition (2003), Spook Country (2007), and Zero History (2010)—set in a roughly contemporary world. These works saw his name reach mainstream bestseller lists for the first time. His most recent novels, The Peripheral (2014) and Agency (2020), returned to a more overt engagement with technology and recognizable science fiction themes.


In 1999, The Guardian (UK) described Gibson as "probably the most important novelist of the past two decades," while the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) called him the "noir prophet" of cyberpunk.Throughout his career, Gibson has written more than 20 short stories and 10 critically acclaimed novels (one in collaboration), contributed articles to several major publications, and collaborated extensively with performance artists, filmmakers, and musicians. His work has been cited as influencing a variety of disciplines: academia, design, film, literature, music, cyberculture, and technology.

Selected works




    Sprawl trilogy:

        Neuromancer (1984)

        Count Zero (1986)

        Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)

    The Difference Engine (1990; with Bruce Sterling)

    Bridge trilogy:

        Virtual Light (1993)

        Idoru (1996)

        All Tomorrow's Parties (1999)

    Blue Ant trilogy (Hubertus Bigend):

        Pattern Recognition (2003)

        Spook Country (2007)

        Zero History (2010)

    Peripheral trilogy

        The Peripheral (2014)

        Agency (2020)



Adapted screenplays


    Archangel (2016–2017) (Graphic novel)

    Alien 3 (2018–2019) (Graphic novel)

    Alien III (2019) (Audio drama)




Short stories


    Burning Chrome (1986, preface by Bruce Sterling), collects Gibson's early short fiction, listed by original publication date:

        "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" (1977, UnEarth 3)

        "Johnny Mnemonic" (1981, Omni)

        "The Gernsback Continuum" (1981, Universe 11)

        "Hinterlands" (1981, Omni)

        "New Rose Hotel" (1981, Omni)

        "The Belonging Kind", with John Shirley (1981, Shadows 4)

        "Burning Chrome" (1982, Omni)

        "Red Star, Winter Orbit", with Bruce Sterling (1983, Omni)

        "The Winter Market" (Nov. 1985, Vancouver)

        "Dogfight", with Michael Swanwick (1985, Omni)

    "Skinner's Room" (Nov. 1991, Omni)




    Agrippa (A Book of the Dead) (1992) – a poem and artist's book

    Distrust That Particular Flavor (2012)

    "Disneyland with the Death Penalty" – a 1993 Wired article




The novel focuses on Flynne and her brother, Burton. Burton is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps' elite Haptic Recon force. Burton is hired for a security job which takes place in what he thinks is cyberspace. When Flynne temporarily takes his place, she witnesses something that may have been murder.


According to GQ's Zach Baron:


    The Peripheral is an emphatic return to the science fiction he ceased to write after the turn of this century, set in not one but two futures. The first, not far off from our own present day, takes place in a Winter's Bone-ish world where the only industries still surviving are lightly evolved versions of Walmart and the meth trade. The second future is set further along in time, after a series of not-quite-cataclysmic events that have killed most of the world's population, leaving behind a monarchic class of gangsters, performance artists, and publicists in an otherwise deserted London.

Television adaptation

A TV series adaptation was commissioned in 2018 by Amazon to be developed by Westworld creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan. The series was put into development in April 2018 with a "script-to-series commitment", receiving a firm go-ahead in the middle of November 2019. Beyond Joy and Nolan, executive producers include Athena Wickham, Steven Hoban and Vincenzo Natali. It will have hour episodes and be developed by Kilter Films, though Amazon Studios. Warner Bros. Television is also involved as a producer, with Scott B. Smith as writer. Smith created the series, and will executive producer and also be showrunner. Natali will direct the show's pilot.


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