This week’s selection is The Peripheral, by William Gibson.
Gibson is an extremely well known Science Fiction author who has pioneered several different ideas, some of which have become near-reality. He’s an utterly fascinating writer that I’ve heard speak in person.
Gibson came on the scene in 1981 with his groundbreaking short story, “Burning Chrome”, which for the first time related concepts of a future “cyberspace”. Since then Gibson has continued to set his tales in worlds dominated by cyberspace, effectively inventing the Science Fiction genre of “cyberpunk”.
His most notable work in cyberpunk is Neuromancer, where high drama occurs in a networked world. While some of his predictions have yet to occur, our world of today is eerily leaning in directions he predicted in his stories.
My favorite Gibson quote is this, which I live with every day:
The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.
This is solidly true, and particularly in the 3D print universe, where the rapid advances of the technology are not yet evenly distributed.
One of his books deals with 3D printing in an indirect way: The Peripheral. This story follows the adventure of a former US Marine equipped with military cybernetic implants, who happens to be employed at a city 3D printing service. He’s engaged in a contract to perform work in a cyberspace environment, but then things go awry. You’ll have to read the story to find out what happens, but be aware that 3D printing does play a not-insubstantial role in the plot.
What’s fascinating to me is that Gibson deploys 3D printing in his fantasy worlds in a completely normal manner; there are 3D printers and people use them. It’s not unusual and is an expected activity.
Our world is not yet like that.
But it will be.