All Tomorrow’s Parties
By William Gibson
First Published: 1999
Jacket art by Honi Werner
Review © 2012 by Stephen Roof
Genre: Science Fiction, Noir Thriller
All Tomorrow’s Parties is the last novel of a loosely connected near future science fiction trilogy from William Gibson. The first novel in the series, Virtual Light, was a terrific novel that I enjoyed for its near future noir atmosphere and great characters. The next novel, Idoru, was not bad but was not nearly as good as Virtual Light which explains why I lost the motivation to read the final novel in the series. However, after hearing that the last novel of the series was worth reading, I finally picked up All Tomorrow’s Parties 13 years after it was published and I’m glad I did.
All Tomorrow’s Parties gets back to what made Virtual Light such an enjoyable novel, it combines a gritty near future noir type atmosphere with a series of mysteries and a cast of well-developed and highly interesting characters. This novel brings back the two memorable main characters from Virtual Light, Rydell, the ex-cop who can’t seem to keep a steady job and Chevette, a streetwise ex-bicycle messenger. It also includes the web surfing master, Laney, from Idoru. A couple of interesting new characters are also thrown into the mix. They include a young boy, Silencio, who won’t talk but may have some savant-like talents and a mysterious assassin who is able to pass by unnoticed except for the dead bodies that are left in his wake.
Despite the numerous connections to the previous two novels in the series, All Tomorrow’s Parties could be read easily by itself. However, I would recommend at least reading Virtual Light first, simply because it is such a great read.
The plot of All Tomorrow’s Parties is a barely strong enough to hold the story together so that Gibson can display his talents for creating interesting characters, fascinating surroundings, cool technology, and exciting action. Basically, Laney has discovered that a “nodal point” in the history of the world is fast approaching and is centered on the lawless Bridge near San Francisco. He sends Rydell to be his eyes and ears on the spot while the other main characters of the novel are all being drawn to the Bridge for different reasons. Soon mysterious deaths occur, Chevette finds herself being stalked by an ex-boyfriend, Laney is chasing leads in cyberspace, and Rydell finds himself becoming the hunted instead of the hunter.
While the plot of All Tomorrow’s Parties was not the strong point of the novel, this was still a highly enjoyable read thanks to the atmosphere, cool technology, great characters, and high quality writing. If you haven’t read any novels from William Gibson, read Virtual Light and Neuromancer first and if you enjoy Virtual Light you will definitely want to read All Tomorrow’s Parties.