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HALL OF FAMEon 31 January 2006
Reading a Gibson novel is an act of faith. He weaves seemingly tenuous threads into a vivid plot. Don't expect to fully comprehend where you're going until you're well into his story. Looking at the last pages doesn't help, either. Let him carry you through the story. It's worth the effort. Gibson's characterizations are peerless, even though so many of his people seem outlandish in our perception. His eye for the future is unmatched. Harlan Ellison's dictum that "SF" means "speculative fiction" and not "science fiction" finds its greatest expression in Gibson's works. This book, which became the introduction to a trilogy, is a fine example of all these elements.
Berry Rydell was a Tennessee copper. Caught up in bizarre circumstances while "protecting the public," he becomes a Cop In Trouble. If policemen today think "political correctness" has impaired their effectiveness, wait until they see the future Gibson has in store for them. Lawsuits resulting from law enforcement activities are rampant. But the police have support. It comes from media producers who see enhanced viewer capture in publicizing these cases. Who but Gibson could view the corporate mentality with such perception? By the time of this story, corporate America has built up such a web of interfaces between themselves and the world it becomes impossible to extricate them. Rydell views video screens with the question "Woman or machine?" arising with distressing frequency. Driven from the police force, Rydell takes up with a security firm and relocated to Los Angeles. It's a drastically different world compared to Knoxville, but he hasn't seen anything yet. Before long he's in San Francisco, then off to Texas. Beyond mere survival, which is increasingly problematic, he's seeking a piece of advanced technology - the virtual light glasses. Gibson doesn't dwell on the technology behind this device. He's more concerned with the forces surrounding its possessor. Why do the questors go to such extremities to recover these glasses? Rydell represents us all. He remains honest while working among those clearly outside the law. But it isn't the individuals who bring such tension into Rydell's life. His stress is ultimately due to the hidden agencies with which he must deal. They are faceless and obscure. They impart information of vague worth with a deviousness a Delphic oracle would envy. He isn't even clear whether he's dealing with individuals or cabals. Lofty and condescending, they give him but little satisfaction and what's given is clearly on their terms alone.
It's these faceless entities that Gibson warns us of as he [and we] contemplate the future. Corporate operations are disappearing from view as their powers grow from local to global influence. They can tap growing information resources and their decisions, which impact our lives daily, are taken far removed from our scrutiny. Gibson uses Rydell to exhibit how helpless we're becoming in their grasp. Gibson shows they are subject to no accountability to law or popular review as they make "globalization" a new reality. We can only watch in awe as they form a new ruling class in world society. That Gibson can do this within the realm of captivating fiction garners our admiration. That this book begins a new trilogy commands us to follow where he leads. His view is far reaching and we are grateful he shares that vision with us. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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on 30 April 2000
I found Virtual Light to be a better read than the other Gibson books I have read. The story flows better and I can identifiy more with the characters than I could in his previous novels. The only-a-bit in the future setting is interesting, and there were a lot of clever ideas in the book. Some points could have done with more developement however, for example it wasn't really explained very well why the damn glasses were so important in the first place. All in all though, a very good read.
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on 14 August 2003
Set in a future that is as close as this afternoon, this is a book that shows why Gibson is one of the masters of speculative fiction. The story is tight, fast paced & full of the little details that Gibson does so well. If you have read Gibson before & liked it, you'll want to read this. If you haven't, this book is a great place to start.
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on 9 December 2012
I found this an interesting and enjoyable read, and I'm definitely glad I bought it, but for me it was not in the same league as much of William Gibson's other work; it will not stick in my mind as a classic in the same way that all books in the Sprawl series did, and even Idoru, Virtual Light's sequel (which for some reason I read first), seemed more sophisticated.
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on 18 April 2015
a fast paced trawl through gibson's near future.
i'm sure others will have written detailed reviews of this book.
suffice to say, i was in the mood for some easy reading science fiction and i really enjoyed this story.
humour, social comment, very skillful pacing and plenty to think about afterwards.
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on 11 February 2002
This is obviously completely different from "Golden Age" SF, a fan of which contributed a rather negative review. If you like cyberpunk, though, all of Gibson's work is surely essential reading...

Some notable things: the (Oakland Bay) bridge, which became unusable after the "little one" and was occupied by homeless people who turn it into a thriving, independent community. The story of the man who cured AIDS, which is slowly revealed as the plot advances. The character of Chevette Washington, who surely inspired Neil Stephenson's kourier in Snow Crash.

Also, Gibsons prose style, which obviously doesn't appeal to everyone. The chapters may seem choppy because each one gets inside the head of a single point-of-view character, and is written in that character's voice. So there's a lot of stylistic variety, different idiom and grammar, etc. Gibson is excellent at inventing voices and dialects for his various characters.

One thing I wish is that it was more gripping, I would like to have to have been pulled to the edge of my seat a few more times.
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on 12 February 2017
Typical brilliant vision of what will soon be the present,wonderful use of dialog creating a world that hackers and users dream of.. highly recommended.
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on 7 May 2014
Good read - gradely as ever. Mr Gibson's coruscating prose leaves one breathless. Enjoy this book as I did !
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on 22 February 2016
Enjoyed this book, Good price and prompt delivery.
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on 16 April 2003
After reading Neuromancer for the first recently I rushed out and got hold of virtual Light... to say I was disappointed would be an understatement.. nothing like the imagination,depth,colour that neuromancer, in fact rather dull, the characters were poor and the plot did little in the way of evolution....
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