All Tomorrow's Parties

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Gibson, William. All Tomorrow's Parties. New York: Putnam, 1999. New York: Ace, 2000. For translations, other reprints, and reviews, see the Internet Speculative Fiction Database entry, as of October 2022 available here.[1]

Sequel to Idoru and to Virtual Light for the Bridge Trilogy,[2] important for students of the postmodern and posthuman (see Ace ch. 39, "Panopticon," and p. 193 [ch, 47] on entropic visions in cyberspace). There is about to be a great change, comparable to the one in 1911, which we assume was the one into the definitely modern world. Finding and using the nodes in the tech-world's data indicating that change is central to the plot, as is Rei Toei: the idoru, Colin Laney: who can perceive the nodes in the data, and Silencio: a boy fascinated by watches and data-flow. Note (1) that the cyberspace of WG's "Sprawl" series — Neuromancer et al. — or even in Idoru has been replaced by more mundane movement through the data of DatAmerica; (2) that All Tomorrow's Parties incorporates something of a Daoist worldview; and (3) that the villain of the piece is Cody Harwood, "the PR [Public Relations] genius, who'd inherited Harwood Levine, the most powerful PR firm in the world" (15; ch. 3). See also for literal clockworks in watches, continuing interest in nanotechnology, and various interesting gadgets, including "God's Little Toy": a small, remotely controlled balloon camera-platform—"silver balloon. Disembodied eye" (34; ch. 7).

Discussed briefly but insightfully by Veronica Hollinger in "Stories about the Future: From Patterns of Expectation to Pattern Recognition". In this novel, "inconceivable transformations are promised in the interactions of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology," and the action of a the novel "culminates in an appropriately fiery narrative climax with the near-destruction by fire of the Oakland Bay Bridge." However this scaled-down "'apocalypse'" is a ploy (our word)

to distract both characters and readers from more radical changes taking place elsewhere: Rei Toei, the Idoru, that mysterious virtual superstar introduced by Gibson in his 1996 novel of the same name, frees herself from her dependence on technology and enters the world as an autonomous sentient entity; and breakthroughs in nanotechnology promise unprecedented changes in the very material of the physical world. What these events might mean to the continued unfolding of human history remains unknown, however, since Gibson’s text reaches its own conclusion at this point. (p. 461)[3]

RDE, 02/12/01; 26/12/01 // finishing 27Oct22