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the_peripheral

The Peripheral - William Gibson

(some reading notes)

14 November 2557 BE 2. DEATH COOKIE, p. 6

“They ate the last two envoys,” he said. “Hallucinating in synch with a forest of code, convinced their visitors were shamanic spirit beasts. I spent three entire days, last month, having her briefed at the Connaught. Two anthropologists, three neoprimitivist curators. No tattoos. A brand-new, perfectly blank epidermis. Now this.”

15 November 2557 BE 14. MOURNING JET, p. 51

“Encryption isn’t optional, when we address one another,” she said. It altered constantly, their encryption, something sounding Spanish morphing into a faux German in the course of a simple statement, perhaps by way of something more like birdsong than speech. The birdsong was Netherton’s least favorite. Whatever randomly synthetic language the one spoke, the other understood. Never the one thing long enough to provide a sufficient sample for decryption

15 November 2557 BE 16. LEGO, p. 59

“Any listener necessarily assumes a particular stance, informed by intention. Our module’s more sophisticated than that which was listening. The shape of their listening suggested what they were listening for.”

16 November 2557 BE 21. GRIFTER, p. 80

There’s a reason there’s a website to sign up to kill people you never heard of. Same reason nobody in this county’s making a decent living, unless they’re building drugs.”

16 November 2557 BE 22. ARCHAISM, p. 85

History had its fascinations, but could be burdensome. Too much of it and you became Ash, obsessed with a catalog of vanished species, addicted to nostalgia for things you’d never known.

16 November 2557 BE 24. ANATHEMA, p. 92

Can’t you,” asked Netherton, “just jump forward and see what happens? Look in on them a year later, then correct for that?” “No,” said Ash. “That’s time travel. This is real. When we sent our first e-mail to their Panama, we entered into a fixed ratio of duration with their continuum: one to one. A given interval in the stub is the same interval here, from first instant of contact. We can no more know their future than we can know our own, except to assume that it ultimately isn’t going to be history as we know it. And, no, we don’t know why. It’s simply the way the server works, as far as we know.”

16 November 2557 BE 26. VERY SENIOR, p. 102

The great mystery, yes. Assumed to be Chinese, and as with so many aspects of China today, quite beyond us. You use it to communicate with the past, or rather a past, since in our actual past, you didn’t. That rather hurts my head, Mr. Zubov. I gather it doesn’t hurt yours?” “Far less than the sort of paradox we’re accustomed to culturally, in discussing imaginary transtemporal affairs,” said Lev. “It’s actually quite simple. The act of connection produces a fork in causality, the new branch causally unique. A stub, as we call them.”

16 November 2557 BE 26. VERY SENIOR, p. 103

Imperialism,” said Ash. “We’re third-worlding alternate continua. Calling them stubs makes that a bit easier.”

16 November 2557 BE 28. THE HOUSE OF LOVE, p. 116

The car that had driven them was piloted by a small peripheral, a homunculus seated in a cockpit rather like an elaborate ashtray, embedded in the top of the dash. Netherton assumed it was controlled by some aspect of Lev’s family’s security. It irritated him, as pointless in its way as Ash’s theatricalities. Or, he supposed, it was intended to amuse Lev’s children, in which case he doubted it did.

16 November 2557 BE 28. THE HOUSE OF LOVE, p. 117

We all do the City’s will, Wilf. Don’t imagine otherwise.”

16 November 2557 BE 28. THE HOUSE OF LOVE, p. 120

The peripheral was looking at him.

16 November 2557 BE 30. HERMÈS, p. 127

Chinese whispers. Ghosts of the Commonwealth

16 November 2557 BE 32. TIPSTAFF, p. 134

Goods were on offer, in the windows of shops staffed by automata, by homunculi, by the odd person either present or peripheral.

16 November 2557 BE 32. TIPSTAFF, p. 138

Maenads’ Crush

16 November 2557 BE 33. STUPIDITY TAX, p. 140

“Know what’s worse than imaginary, Leon?” “What?” “Half imaginary.”

16 November 2557 BE 34. HEADLESS, p. 144

The use of explosives is unusual, and we prefer to keep it so. Too much like asymmetric warfare.” “Terrorism,” said the rental. “We prefer not to use that term,” said Lowbeer, studying her candle flame with something that looked to Netherton to be regret, “if only because terror should remain the sole prerogative of the state.”

17 November 2557 BE 42. BODY LANGUAGE, p. 182

But it isn’t your future,” he said. “When we made contact, we set your world, your universe, whatever it is—” “Continuum,” said Ash. “—on a different course,” he finished. He’d never in his life said anything that sounded more absurd, though it was, as far as he knew, the truth.

17 November 2557 BE 42. BODY LANGUAGE, p. 184

How can I be sure it isn’t a game?” Flynne asked. “At least half the games I’ve ever played were set in some kind of future.”

17 November 2557 BE 43. ’SPLODING, p. 186

They aren’t telling me it’s a game. They’re telling me it’s a future. Not ours exactly, because now they’ve messed with us, even just first getting in touch, we’re headed somewhere else.”

17 November 2557 BE 45. UP THERE, p. 192

Different but not that much. Or maybe a lot and it doesn’t all show?”

17 November 2557 BE 46. THE SIGHTS, p. 197

“Cosplay zone,” said Lev, “Eighteen sixty-seven. We’d be fined for the helicopter, if it didn’t have cloaking, or if it made a sound.”

18 November 2557 BE 47. POWER RELATIONSHIPS, p. 200

I’m very old, elaborately and artificially so. I don’t feel entirely real to myself, frankly.

18 November 2557 BE 53. SANTA CLAUS’S HEADQUARTERS, p. 222

But you could, if I understand your method, find a narrative that leads quite naturally to her inviting you.

18 November 2557 BE 54. IMPOSTOR SYNDROME, p. 227

Michikoid

18 November 2557 BE 54. IMPOSTOR SYNDROME, p. 227

Table for one, cloaked, nearest the entrance.” He extended his hand, allowing it to access his credit. “Not to be approached by anything other than serving units.”

18 November 2557 BE 54. IMPOSTOR SYNDROME, p. 228

something aspiring, and failing, to look as though it were constructed from bits of derelict airships, roofed with netted bulges of gasbag, within which faint lights leapt and shuddered.

18 November 2557 BE 54. IMPOSTOR SYNDROME, p. 229

Please restrain yourself in the invention of extraneous detail.”

18 November 2557 BE 56. THE LIGHT IN HER VOICE MAIL, p. 237

Associate Curator Annie Courrèges, of the Tate Postmodern

18 November 2557 BE 60. BROWNING IN, p. 250

squidlight

18 November 2557 BE 61. TIMESICK, p. 253

It’s weird, then it’s the way it is, then it’s weird again.

18 November 2557 BE 64. STERILE, p. 265

an unusual integration of objective calculation and sheer impulsivity.

18 November 2557 BE 65. BACKDOOR TO NOW, p. 271

Markets are full of predatory trading algorithms. They’ve evolved to hunt in packs

18 November 2557 BE 66. DROP BEARS, p. 273

The Australian military,” Lowbeer said, “call these drop bears.” The thing’s blunt, koala-like muzzle, unmoving when she spoke, was held slightly open, displaying a nonmammalian profusion of tiny crystalline teeth. “Reconnaissance units,” she said, “small, expendable. These two were haloed in, then guided here. How are you feeling?” Its blank gray eyes were round and featureless as buttons, the color of its hairless face. Mechanical-looking concave ears, if they were ears, swiveled fitfully, independent of one another.

18 November 2557 BE 66. DROP BEARS, p. 274

You may dislike it intensely, but it’s as real as you are. More so, perhaps, as there are presently no schemes to monetize you.

18 November 2557 BE 67. BLACK BEAUTY, p. 279

Sounds about right. What do you say we do, with that?” “Try not to get damaged. Let it go where it’s going, otherwise, because we can’t stop it anyway. And because it’s interesting. And I’m glad you swallowed that. You get lost, it’ll tell us where to find you.”

21 November 2557 BE 68. ANTIBODY, p. 281

Or a romantic, perhaps

21 November 2557 BE 68. ANTIBODY, p. 282

Eras are conveniences, particularly for those who never experienced them. We carve history from totalities beyond our grasp. Bolt labels on the result. Handles. Then speak of the handles as though they were things in themselves.”

21 November 2557 BE 68. ANTIBODY, p. 283

If you fancy resenting the tedious, I recommend intentional communities, particularly those led by charismatics.

21 November 2557 BE 68. ANTIBODY, p. 284

You pride yourself on not knowing who employs you. Rather behind the curve, in that. I might pride myself, were I so inclined, on not knowing what it is I do.”

21 November 2557 BE 73. RED GREEN BLUE, p. 303

“Squidsuit,” said Macon, in her ear. Cuttlefish camo, like Burton and Conner used in the war.

21 November 2557 BE 77. WHEELIE BOY, p. 314

If she wasn’t in the future, she thought, she was getting kidnapped and rescued.

21 November 2557 BE 77. WHEELIE BOY, p. 315

Hefty Wheelie Boy

21 November 2557 BE 79. THE JACKPOT, p. 319

And first of all that it was no one thing. That it was multicausal, with no particular beginning and no end. More a climate than an event, so not the way apocalypse stories liked to have a big event

21 November 2557 BE 79. THE JACKPOT, p. 320

androgenic, systemic, multiplex, seriously bad shit

21 November 2557 BE 79. THE JACKPOT, p. 321

No comets crashing, nothing you could really call a nuclear war. Just everything else, tangled in the changing climate: droughts, water shortages, crop failures, honeybees gone like they almost were now, collapse of other keystone species, every last alpha predator gone, antibiotics doing even less than they already did, diseases that were never quite the one big pandemic but big enough to be historic events in themselves. And all of it around people: how people were, how many of them there were, how they’d changed things just by being there.

21 November 2557 BE 79. THE JACKPOT, p. 321

But science, he said, had been the wild card, the twist. With everything stumbling deeper into a ditch of shit, history itself become a slaughterhouse, science had started popping. Not all at once, no one big heroic thing, but there were cleaner, cheaper energy sources, more effective ways to get carbon out of the air, new drugs that did what antibiotics had done before, nanotechnology that was more than just car paint that healed itself or camo crawling on a ball cap. Ways to print food that required much less in the way of actual food to begin with. So everything, however deeply fucked in general, was lit increasingly by the new, by things that made people blink and sit up, but then the rest of it would just go on, deeper into the ditch

21 November 2557 BE 79. THE JACKPOT, p. 322

Oligarchs, corporations, neomonarchists

21 November 2557 BE 79. THE JACKPOT, p. 322

The klept

21 November 2557 BE 80. THE CLOVIS LIMIT, p. 325

You appear to be in quite good odor,”

21 November 2557 BE 81. ALAMO, p. 329

Conspiracy theory’s got to be simple. Sense doesn’t come into it. People are more scared of how complicated shit actually is than they ever are about whatever’s supposed to be behind the conspiracy.”

21 November 2557 BE 81. ALAMO, p. 329

UN’s got deep roots in the demonology.”

22 November 2557 BE 82. THE NASTINESS, p. 336

That really was quite a vile period, Flynne’s day. We tend to forget, all that came after having so overshadowed it. I scarcely grasped its nastiness, then, even with my resources at the time.”

22 November 2557 BE 83. ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD IN A MOMENT OF TIME, p. 337

Well,” leaning back to briefly consult something in his Viz, “there haven’t been any catastrophic market imbalances yet, but it’s early days. It’s a race to the top, and the way we’re doing it, the way our competitor’s doing it, is seriously stressing the system.” “What’s the top?” “Won’t know until we get there, and if we aren’t on it, we’ll likely be dead.”

22 November 2557 BE 83. ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD IN A MOMENT OF TIME, p. 341

Luke 4:5

22 November 2557 BE 84. SOHO SQUARE, p. 344

You say they aren’t real, the trees?” “They’re real, but their growth was augmented, engineered. A few are quasi-biological megavolume carbon collectors that look like trees.”

22 November 2557 BE 84. SOHO SQUARE, p. 343

A house grown from trees. A sort of playhouse, actually. Public.”

22 November 2557 BE 84. SOHO SQUARE, p. 343

A forest, but linear. Oxford Street was ruined here, variously, in the jackpot. Mainly department stores. The architect had assemblers eat their ruins back. Carved them into what amounts to a very long planter for the trees, with a central pathway elevated above the original level of the street—”

22 November 2557 BE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE, p. 346

assemblers

22 November 2557 BE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE, p. 347

She some kind of artist?”

22 November 2557 BE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE, p. 347

No. The tattoos aren’t the product. She herself is the product. Her life.”

22 November 2557 BE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE, p. 348

Neoprimitivist curators

22 November 2557 BE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE, p. 348

Neoprimitives either survived the jackpot on their own or have opted out of the global system. The ones our project hinged on were volunteers. An ecology cult. Curators study neoprimitives, experience and collect their culture.”

22 November 2557 BE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE, p. 349

Family’s powerful. Old klept. Russian. His two older brothers seem likely to sustain that. He’s a sort of scout for the family. Looks for things they might invest in. Not about profit so much as keeping fresh. Sources of novelty.”

22 November 2557 BE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE, p. 350

They’re all mad,” he said. “They might all be peripherals. Harmless, though. This way

22 November 2557 BE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE, p. 350

And there were people here, walking in the park, sitting on benches, pushing buggies. They didn’t look particularly like future people to her.

22 November 2557 BE 85. FUTURE PEOPLE, p. 350

Remembrancer

22 November 2557 BE 86. CHATELAINE, p. 353

The peripheral, seated on the bench beside him, seemed to be following it as well, though he knew attention to moving objects was just a way of emulating sentience.

22 November 2557 BE 87. THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARTY TIME, p. 359

“Consider ignoring the placards our rent-a-zealots are displaying,” he said. “They were designed by an agency that specializes in political attack ads, and are specifically intended to upset you personally, while turning the community against you.”

22 November 2557 BE 87. THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARTY TIME, p. 359

Luke 4:5 are as much a business as a cult. As tends to be the case.”

22 November 2557 BE 88. PARLIAMENT OF BIRDS, p. 361

You’re being given a ticket for the parliament of birds,”

22 November 2557 BE 88. PARLIAMENT OF BIRDS, p. 361

Ash spoke at length then, in birdsong, and he understood.

22 November 2557 BE 91. ISOPOD, p. 369

The drone was somewhere else peripherals might come from

22 November 2557 BE 93. MISSION STATEMENT, p. 377

“I didn’t feel it was appropriate, or advisable. She told me I was unaccustomed to operating from a position of strength.”

22 November 2557 BE 93. MISSION STATEMENT, p. 377

She has global intelligence feeds, analytical tools of tremendous functionality. The systems I work with here would surprise you, I imagine, but I have to take her word for what hers are capable of. She doubts anyone fully comprehends them, herself included, as they’ve become largely self-organizing. Having had to evolve from the sort I use today, I suppose. Which means that if you mention anything that concerns her, over or within reach of any platform whatsoever, she learns of it immediately. And at this point, I suppose, anything you speak of concerns her.”

22 November 2557 BE 93. MISSION STATEMENT, p. 379

Why aren’t you up in the future,” Flynne asked him, “flying your washing machine?”

22 November 2557 BE 94. APOLLINARIS WATER, p. 382

He wondered if that was true, that she could still be embarrassed by her own acts of surveillance? Perhaps it was akin to his own unease at knowing she’d listened, when of course one did assume that the klept was entirely able to do that. Just as one assumed, to whatever extent, that that was always being done.

22 November 2557 BE 94. APOLLINARIS WATER, p. 383

I feel hindered by a surfeit of information, oceanic to the point of meaninglessness. The shortcomings of the system are best understood as the result of taking this ocean of data, and the decision points produced by our algorithms, as a near enough substitute for perfect certainty. My own best results are often due to pretending I know relatively little, and acting accordingly, though it’s easier said than done. Far easier.”

22 November 2557 BE 94. APOLLINARIS WATER, p. 384

Civilization was dying, of its own discontents. We live today in the result of what I and so many others did to prevent that.

22 November 2557 BE 95. WHOLE WORLDS FALLING, p. 388

Induced immunity. Only neoprimitives forgo it.” “They don’t want to be immune from colds?” “Ostentatiously perverse.”

22 November 2557 BE 95. WHOLE WORLDS FALLING, p. 388

Why’s it called that? Coldiron?” “Spell-correct. Ash chose ‘milagros’ because she likes them. Not miracles but small metal charms, offerings to the saints, representing various suffering body parts. Calderón is a partner in a Panama City law firm Lev nearly hired, but didn’t. Ash liked the sound of it, then liked the look of the accidental result.”

22 November 2557 BE 96. DISANTHROPOMORPHIZED, p. 391

Not sentient, yet as Lowbeer had pointed out, effortlessly anthropomorphized. An anthropomorph, really, to be disanthropomorphized.

22 November 2557 BE 96. DISANTHROPOMORPHIZED, p. 392

Carnivorous kangaroos, in wolf outfits with Cubist stripes.

22 November 2557 BE 96. DISANTHROPOMORPHIZED, p. 393

A process akin to repetitious dreaming, or the protracted spinning of a given fiction.

22 November 2557 BE 97. CONVOY, p. 400

I’m in the future that would result from my not being there. But since I am, it isn’t your future. Here.”

23 November 2557 BE 100. BACK HERE, p. 411

assembler malfunction

23 November 2557 BE 100. BACK HERE, p. 413

she says the odds are good around here, but the goods are odd.

23 November 2557 BE 102. TRANSPLANT, p. 418

They aren’t guns in any ballistic sense. Not about the force of a projectile. They’re directed swarm weapons. Flesh-eaters, in the trade.”

23 November 2557 BE 102. TRANSPLANT, p. 419

A synthetic bullshit implant,”

23 November 2557 BE 104. THE RED MEDICI, p. 425

reasonably high grade of facile nonsense

23 November 2557 BE 105. STATIC IN YOUR BONES, p. 428

Cognitive bundle,” he said, as the doors opened. She smelled Lev’s cooking from the kitchen. “It constructs essentially meaningless statements out of a given jargon, around whatever chosen topic.

23 November 2557 BE 105. STATIC IN YOUR BONES, p. 430

but there’s a crudeness of mind behind this business. Best we have our own options for crudeness.”

23 November 2557 BE 105. STATIC IN YOUR BONES, p. 430

It’s less like a conspiracy than a climate, at this point.”

23 November 2557 BE 107. LITTLE BUDDY, p. 436

You’re the one living in the future, with nanobots eating people, spare bodies, government run by kings and gangsters and shit. You accept all that, right?”

24 November 2557 BE 114. CELEBRATION OF LIFE, p. 455

Assemblers,” he said. “It’s what we do here. We’re protean.”

24 November 2557 BE 121. NOTTING HILL, p. 473

Mechanical sacrifices, like cats walled up in the foundations of bridges.

24 November 2557 BE 121. NOTTING HILL, p. 474

Opportunities to do very badly were manifold. You avoided them. The major part in any success.”

24 November 2557 BE 123. COMPOUND, p. 478

But having so much money for a project that it just didn’t matter, she’d learned, was a lot like having assemblers.

24 November 2557 BE 123. COMPOUND, p. 481

That evil wasn’t glamorous, but just the result of ordinary half-assed badness, high school badness, given enough room, however that might happen, to become its bigger self. Bigger, with more horrible results, but never more than the cumulative weight of ordinary human baseness.

24 November 2557 BE 123. COMPOUND, p. 481

she sometimes worried that they weren’t really doing more than just building their own version of the klept. Which Ainsley had said was not just a good thing but an essential thing, for all of them to keep in mind. Because people who couldn’t imagine themselves capable of evil were at a major disadvantage in dealing with people who didn’t need to imagine, because they already were.

24 November 2557 BE Acknowledgments and Thanks, p. 486

The idea of “third-worlding” the past of alternate continua owes everything to “Mozart in Mirrorshades” (1985) by Bruce Sterling and Lewis Shiner, though there the travel is physical, with extraction of natural resources the focus of exploitation.

the_peripheral.txt · Last modified: 2014/11/25 00:25 by 213.219.145.172