Bridge trilogy

Bridge trilogy

The Bridge trilogy is a series of novels by William Gibson, his second after the successful Sprawl trilogy. The trilogy comprises the novels "Virtual Light" (1993), "Idoru," (1996) and "All Tomorrow's Parties" (1999).


The Bridge trilogy, like the Sprawl trilogy, takes place in a dystopian future. It is not clear whether the two trilogies are set at different times in the same universe or in separate universes, although the world in the Bridge trilogy appears less advanced. The books deal with the race to control the beginnings of cyberspace technology and are set on the United States' West coast in a post-earthquake California (divided into the separate states of NoCal and SoCal), as well as a post-earthquake Tokyo, Japan, that had been rebuilt using nanotechnology.

The trilogy derives its name from the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, which was abandoned in an earthquake and has become a massive shantytown and a site of improvised shelter. The bridge becomes a pivotal location in "Virtual Light" and "All Tomorrow's Parties."


The novels of the Bridge trilogy share a common cast of characters. Most prevalent are former cop (and former security guard) Berry Rydell and bicycle courier Chevette Washington. Computer hacker Colin Laney, with a mysterious ability to identify patterns in vast tracts of information, appears in "All Tomorrow's Parties" and is the main protagonist of "Idoru." Another recurring character is the "virtual idol" ("idoru" being a mistaken Japanese rendering of "idol", the correct Japanese is "aidoru") Rei Toei, an AI pop star.

Major themes

The Bridge trilogy incorporates elements of William Gibson's recurring exploration of the intersection of technology, traumatic change, and cyborg self-perceptions. The original San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge exists within the old technological system of steel-based construction techniques. After the traumatic shock of the earthquake, which destabilizes both the literal bridge and the technological system of which it is a part, a new technological system emerges. Two representative examples of the new technology are the nanotechnology-based tunnel that replaces the bridge and the ad-hoc community built on the damaged bridge. The concept of node permeates the Bridge trilogy.cite web|url= |title=William Gibson Maps Mediated World in New Novel |work=PopMatters |date=16 July 2007 |last=Burt |first=Jillian]

The ad-hoc bridge community is a cyborg since it takes essential structural elements from both the bridge and the people living on the bridge. Remove either, and the bridge community is irrevocably altered. This duality of self is evident in Gibson's characters as well. For example, one of Chevette's fellow bike messengers is described as having bones of steel in the same passage as his bike is described. In "Idoru" the post-marriage Rei Toei/Rez entity is an excellent example of a cyborg: it contains both human (Rez) and machine (Rei) elements and requires technology for its existence (nanotechnology). The blind percussionist has prosthetic eyes. Blackwell's folding hatchet is repeatedly described as an extension of his body. The unnamed killer in "All Tomorrow's Parties" is inseparable from his blade. Colin Laney's brain has been re-wired by a technological artifact (an experimental chemical), producing his ability to identify patterns.

The overall arc of the trilogy's plot lays out Gibson's apparent thesis on the structure of our world. A traumatic event fragments, destabilizes, or outrightly destroys the existing social and technological order. Uncontrolled technologies (the bridge community was not planned or authorized) develop quickly and bring about radical change. The humans involved have no choice but to incorporate this change into their self-perceptions, becoming either literally or figuratively cyborg. As the effects of these changes propagate, the rate of alteration of self-perception increases to the point where there is no way to distinguish human from machine, as can be seen in the Rei/Rez entity.

Critical reception and influence

The protagonist of James Cameron's TV show "Dark Angel," a bike courier working in a dystopian post-holocaust Seattle, bears significant resemblance to Chevette Washington.Fact|date=May 2008

Science fiction critic David Seed said of the trilogy that it "has all the stylistic verve of his earlier work, but it asks some tougher questions, explores character more deeply, and savagely interrogates our star-obsessed society." [cite book | last = Seed | first = David | title = A Companion to Science Fiction | publisher = Blackwell Publishing Professional | pages = p.314 | year = 2005 | isbn = 1405112182 ]


Audiobooks of both "Virtual Light" and "Idoru" have been released by Putnam Berkley Audio.

As of 2006, an anime film adaptation of "Idoru" is rumoured to be in the early stages of development. [ [ Now In Play Magazine article detailing the film adaptation.] ]


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