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All Tomorrow's Parties: A gripping, techno-thriller from the bestselling author of Neuromancer (Bridge Book 3) (English Edition) di [William Gibson]

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All Tomorrow's Parties: A gripping, techno-thriller from the bestselling author of Neuromancer (Bridge Book 3) (English Edition) Formato Kindle

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All Tomorrow's Parties is immensely engaging, alive on every page and as enjoyable a weekend entertainment as one could want.”—The Washington Post Book World
 
“Gibson, one of science fiction's greatest literary stylists, is at his best [when] he offers visceral detail even when promising transcendent change—a moment in the near future when the fabric of daily life will twist profoundly.”—
Wired 

“Moves at warp speed...[Gibson] is a witty and compelling storyteller.”—
Los Angeles Times
 
“[A] hard-edged and grimly beautiful piece of work.”—
Chicago Tribune
 
“Gibson has done it again.”—
Time Out New York

“A creepily plausible near-future of nanotechnology and virtual-reality pop idols, delineated in Gibson’s customary diamond-sharp prose as the plot hurtles toward existential apocalypse.”—
Elle

“Ultra-cool cyberpunk...this familiar, vigorous, vividly realized scenario is set forth in the author’s unique and astonishingly textured prose.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Gibson’s rich protopointillism coins a wireless future where reality is only proxy and proviso. Made all the more beautiful and frightening by its probability, and by characters who somehow tweeze hope from the polymer.”—Chris Carter, creator of
The X-Files --Questo testo si riferisce a un'edizione alternativa kindle_edition.

Estratto. © Riproduzione autorizzata. Diritti riservati.

All Tomorrow's Parties

By William Gibson

Ace Books

Copyright ©2000 William Gibson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780441007554


Chapter One


CARDBOARD CITY


THROUGH this evening's tide of faces unregistered, unrecognized, amidhurrying black shoes, furled umbrellas, the crowd descending like a singleorganism into the station's airless heart, comes Shinya Yamazaki, hisnotebook clasped beneath his arm like the egg case of some modest butmoderately successful marine species.

    Evolved to cope with jostling elbows, oversized Ginza shoppingbags, ruthless briefcases, Yamazaki and his small burden of informationgo down into the neon depths. Toward this tributary of relative quiet, atiled corridor connecting parallel escalators.

    Central columns, sheathed in green ceramic, support a ceilingpocked with dust-furred ventilators, smoke detectors, speakers. Behindthe columns, against the far wall, derelict shipping cartons huddle in aragged train, improvised shelters constructed by the city's homeless.Yamazaki halts, and in that moment all the oceanic clatter of commutingfeet washes in, no longer held back by his sense of mission, and hedeeply and sincerely wishes he were elsewhere.

    He winces, violently, as a fashionable young matron, featuresswathed in Chanel micropore, rolls over his toes with an expensivethree-wheeled stroller. Blurting a convulsive apology, Yamazaki glimpsesthe infant passenger through flexible curtains of some pink-tinted plastic,the glow of a video display winking as its mother trundles determinedlyaway.

    Yamazaki sighs, unheard, and limps toward the cardboard shelters.He wonders briefly what the passing commuters will think, to see himenter the carton fifth from the left. It is scarcely the height of his chest,longer than the others, vaguely coffin-like, a flap of thumb-smudgedwhite corrugate serving as its door.

    Perhaps they will not see him, he thinks. Just as he himself hasnever seen anyone enter or exit one of these tidy hovels. It is as thoughtheir inhabitants are rendered invisible in the transaction that allowssuch structures to exist in the context of the station. He is a student ofexistential sociology, and such transactions have been his particular concern.

    And now he hesitates, fighting the urge to remove his shoes andplace them beside the rather greasy-looking pair of yellow plastic sandalsarranged beside the entrance flap on a carefully folded sheet ofParco gift wrap. No, he thinks, imagining himself waylaid within, strugglingwith faceless enemies in a labyrinth of cardboard. Best he not beshoeless.

    Sighing again, he drops to his knees, the notebook clutched in bothhands. He kneels for an instant, hearing the hurrying feet of those whopass behind him. Then he places the notebook on the ceramic tile ofthe station's floor and shoves it forward, beneath the corrugate flap, andfollows it on his hands and knees.

    He desperately hopes that he has found the right carton.

    He freezes there in unexpected light and heat. A single halogen fixturefloods the tiny room with the frequency of desert sunlight.Unventilated, it heats the space like a reptile's cage.

    "Come in," says the old man, in Japanese. "Don't leave your asshanging out that way." He is naked except for a sort of breechclouttwisted from what may once have been a red T-shirt. He is seated, cross-legged,on a ragged, paint-flecked tatami mat. He holds a brightly coloredtoy figure in one hand, a slender brush in the other. Yamazaki seesthat the thing is a model of some kind, a robot or military exoskeleton.It glitters in the sun-bright light, blue and red and silver. Small tools arespread on the tatami: a razor knife, a sprue cutter, curls of emery paper.

    The old man is very thin, clean-shaven but in need of a haircut.Wisps of gray hair hang on either side of his face, and his mouth is setin what looks to be a permanent scowl of disapproval. He wears glasseswith heavy black plastic frames and archaically thick lenses. The lensescatch the light.

    Yamazaki creeps obediently into the carton, feeling the door flapdrop shut behind him. On hands and knees, he resists the urge to try tobow.

    "He's waiting," the old man says, his brush tip poised above the figurein his hand. "In there." Moving only his head.

    Yamazaki sees that the carton has been reinforced with mailingtubes, a system that echoes the traditional post-and-beam architectureof Japan, the tubes lashed together with lengths of salvaged poly-ribbon.There are too many objects here, in this tiny space. Towels and blanketsand cooking pots on cardboard shelves. Books. A small television.

    "In there?" Yamazaki indicates what he takes to be another door, likethe entrance to a hutch, curtained with a soiled square of melon-yellow,foam-cored blanket, the sort of blanket one finds in a capsule hotel. Butthe brush tip dips to touch the model, and the old man is lost in theconcentration this requires, so Yamazaki shuffles on hands and knees acrossthe absurdly tiny space and draws the section of blanket aside.Darkness.

    "Laney-San?"

    What seems to be a crumpled sleeping bag. He smells sickness—

    "Yeah?" A croak. "In here."

    Drawing a deep breath, Yamazaki crawls in, pushing his notebookbefore him. When the melon-yellow blanket falls across the entrance,brightness glows through the synthetic fabric and the thin foam core,like tropical sunlight seen from deep within some coral grotto.

    "Laney?"

    The American groans. Seems to turn, or sit up. Yamazaki can't see.Something covers Laney's eyes. Red wink of a diode. Cables. Faintgleam of the interface, reflected in a thin line against Laney's sweat-slickcheekbone.

    "I'm deep in, now," Laney says, and coughs.

    "Deep in what?"

    "They didn't follow you, did they?"

    "I don't think so."

    "I could tell if they had."

    Yamazaki feels sweat run suddenly from both his armpits, coursingdown across his ribs. He forces himself to breathe. The air here is foul,thick. He thinks of the seventeen known strains of multi-drug-resistanttuberculosis.

    Laney draws a ragged breath. "But they aren't looking for me, arethey?"

    "No," Yamazaki says, "they are looking for her."

    "They won't find her," Laney says. "Not here, Not anywhere. Notnow."

    "Why did you run away, Laney?"

    "The syndrome," Laney says and coughs again, and Yamazaki feelsthe smooth, deep shudder of an incoming maglev, somewhere deeper inthe station, not mechanical vibration but a vast pistoning of displacedair. "It finally kicked in. The 5-SB. The stalker effect." Yamazaki hearsfeet hurrying by, perhaps an arm's length away, behind the cardboardwall.

    "It makes you cough?" Yamazaki blinks, making his new contactlenses swim uncomfortably.

    "No," Laney says and coughs into his pale and upraised hand."Some bug. They all have it, down here."

    "I was worried when you vanished. They began to look for you, butwhen she was gone—"

    "The shit really hit the fan."

    "Shit?"

    Laney reaches up and removes the bulky, old-fashioned eyephones.Yamazaki cannot see what outputs to them, but the shifting light fromthe display reveals Laney's hollowed eyes. "It's all going to change,Yamazaki. We're coming up on the mother of all nodal points. I can seeit, now. It's all going to change."

    "I don't understand."

    "Know what the joke is? It didn't change when they thought itwould. Millennium was a Christian holiday. I've been looking at history,Yamazaki. I can see the nodal points in history. Last time we had onelike this was 1911."

    "What happened in 1911?"

    "Everything changed."

    "How?"

    "It just did. That's how it works. I can see it now."

    "Laney," Yamazaki says, "when you told me about the stalker effect,you said that the victims, the test subjects, became obsessed with oneparticular media figure."

    "Yes."

    "And you are obsessed with her?"

    Laney stares at him, eyes lit by a backwash of data. "No. Notwith her. Guy named Harwood. Cody Harwood. They're comingtogether, though. In San Francisco. And someone else. Leaves a sort ofnegative trace; you have to infer everything from the way he's notthere ..."

    "Why did you ask me here, Laney? This is a terrible place. Do youwish me to help you to escape?" Yamazaki is thinking of the blades ofthe Swiss Army knife in his pocket. One of them is serrated; he couldeasily cut his way out through the wall. Yet the psychological space ispowerful, very powerful, and overwhelms him. He feels very far fromShinjuku, from Tokyo, from anything. He smells Laney's sweat. "You arenot well."

    "Rydell," Laney says, replacing the eyephones. "That rent-a-copfrom the Chateau. The one you knew. The one who told me about you,back in LA."

    "Yes?"

    "I need a man on the ground, in San Francisco. I've managed tomove some money. I don't think they can trace it. I dicked withDatAmerica's banking sector. Find Rydell and tell him he can have it asa retainer."

    "To do what?"

    Laney shakes his head. The cables on the eyephones move in thedark like snakes. "He has to be there, is all. Something's coming down.Everything's changing."

    "Laney, you are sick. Let me take you—"

    "Back to the island? There's nothing there. Never will be, now she'sgone."

    And Yamazaki knows this is true.

    "Where's Rez?" Laney asks.

    "He mounted a tour of the Kombinat states, when he decided shewas gone."

    Laney nods thoughtfully, the eyephones bobbing mantis-like in thedark. "Get Rydell, Yamazaki. I'll tell you how he can get the money."

    "But why?"

    "Because he's part of it. Part of the node."


LATER Yamazaki stands, staring up at the towers of Shinjuku, the wallsof animated light, sign and signifier twisting toward the sky in theunending ritual of commerce, of desire. Vast faces fill the screens, iconsof a beauty at once terrible and banal.

    Somewhere below his feet, Laney huddles and coughs in his cardboardshelter, all of DatAmerica pressing steadily into his eyes. Laneyis his friend, and his friend is unwell. The American's peculiar talentswith data are the result of experimental trials, in a federal orphanage inFlorida, of a substance known as 5-SB. Yamazaki has seen what Laneycan do with data, and what data can do to Laney.

    He has no wish to see it again.

    As he lowers his eyes from the walls of light, the mediated faces, hefeels his contacts move, changing as they monitor his depth of focus.This still unnerves him.

    Not far from the station, down a side street bright as day, he findsthe sort of kiosk that sells anonymous debit cards. He purchases one.At another kiosk, he uses it to buy a disposable phone good for a totalof thirty minutes, Tokyo—LA.

    He asks his notebook for Rydell's number,


Chapter Two


LUCKY DRAGON


"HEROIN," declared Durius Walker, Rydell's colleague in security at theLucky Dragon on Sunset. "It's the opiate of the masses."

    Durius had finished sweeping up. He held the big industrial dustpancarefully, headed for the inbuilt hospital-style sharps container, theone with the barbed biohazard symbol. That was where they put theneedles, when they found them.

    They averaged five or six a week. Rydell had never actually caughtanyone shooting anything up, in the store, although he wouldn't haveput it past them. It just seemed like people dropped used needles onthe floor, usually back by the cat food. You could find other things,sweeping up in the Lucky Dragon: pills, foreign coins, hospital identificationbracelets, crumpled paper money from countries that still usedit. Not that you wanted to go poking around in that dustpan. WhenRydell swept up, he wore the same Kevlar gloves that Durius was wearingnow, and latex underneath that.

    He supposed Durius was right though, and it made you wonder: allthe new substances around to abuse, but people didn't forget the onesthat had been around forever. Make cigarettes illegal, say, and peoplefound a way to keep smoking. The Lucky Dragon wasn't allowed to sellrolling papers, but they did a brisk trade in Mexican hair-curler papersthat worked just as well. The most popular brand was called Biggerhair,and Rydell wondered if anyone had ever actually used any to curl theirhair. And how did you curl your hair with little rectangles of tissue paperanyway?

    "Ten minutes to," Durius said over his shoulder. "You wanna do thecurb check?"

    At four o'clock, one of them got to take a ten-minute break, outback. If Rydell did the curb check, it meant he got to take his break first,then let Durius take one. The curb check was something that LuckyDragon's parent corporation, back in Singapore, had instituted on theadvice of an in-house team of American cultural anthropologists. Mr.Park, the night manager, had explained this to Rydell, ticking off pointson his notebook. He'd tapped each paragraph on the screen for emphasis,sounding thoroughly bored with the whole thing, but Rydell hadsupposed it was part of the job, and Mr. Park was a definite stickler." `Inorder to demonstrate Lucky Dragon's concern with neighborhood safety,security personnel will patrol curb in front of location on a nightlybasis.'" Rydell had nodded. "You not out of store too long," Mr. Parkadded, by way of clarification. "Five minute. Just before you take break."Pause. Tap. "`Lucky Dragon security presence will be high-profile,friendly, sensitive to local culture.'"

    "What's that mean?"

    "Anybody sleeping, you make them move. Friendly way. Hookerworking there, you say hello, tell joke, make her move."

    "I'm scared of those old girls," Rydell said, deadpan."Christmastime, they dress up like Santa's elves."

    "No hooker in front of Lucky Dragon."

    "`Sensitive to local culture'?"

    "Tell joke. Hooker like joke."

    "Maybe in Singapore," Durius had said, when Rydell had recountedPark's instructions.

    "He's not from Singapore," Rydell had said. "He's from Korea."

    "So basically they want us to show ourselves, clear the sidewalkback a few yards, be friendly and sensitive?"

    "And tell joke."

    Durius squinted. "You know what kinda people hang in front of aconvenience store on Sunset, four in the morning? Kids on dancer,tweaked off their dimes, hallucinating monster movies. Guess who getsto be the monster? Plus there's your more mature sociopaths; older,more complicated, polypharmic ..."

    "Say what?"

    "Mix their shit," Durius said. "Get lateral."

    "Gotta be done. Man says."

    Durius looked at Rydell. "You first." He was from Compton, and theonly person Rydell knew who had actually been born in Los Angeles.

    "You're bigger."

    "Size ain't everything."

    "Sure," Rydell had said.


ALL that summer Rydell and Durius had been night security at theLucky Dragon, a purpose-built module that had been coptered into thisformer car-rental lot on the Strip. Before that, Rydell had been nightsecurity at the Chateau, just up the street, and before that he'd drivena wagon for IntenSecure. Still farther back, briefly and he tried not tothink about it too often, he'd been a police officer in Knoxville,Tennessee. Somewhere in there, twice, he'd almost made the cut forCops in Trouble, a show he'd grown up on but now managed never towatch.

    Working nights at the Lucky Dragon was more interesting thanRydell would have imagined. Durius said that was because it was theonly place around, for a mile or so, that sold anything that anyone actuallyneeded, on a regular basis or otherwise. Microwave noodles, diagnostickits for most STDs, toothpaste, disposable anything, Net access,gum, bottled water ... There were Lucky Dragons all over America, allover the world for that matter, and to prove it you had your trademarkLucky Dragon Global Interactive Video Column outside. You had topass it entering and leaving the store, so you'd see whichever dozenLucky Dragons the Sunset franchise happened to be linked with at thatparticular moment: Paris or Houston or Brazzaville, wherever. Thesewere shuffled, every three minutes, for the practical reason that it hadbeen determined that if the maximum viewing time was any more, kidsin the world's duller suburbs would try to win bets by having sex on camera.As it was, you got a certain amount of mooning and flashing. Or,still more common, like this shit-faced guy in downtown Prague, asRydell made his exit to do the curb check, displaying the universalfinger.

    "Same here," Rydell said to this unknown Czech, hitching up theneon-pink Lucky Dragon fanny pack he was contractually obligated towear on duty. He didn't mind that though, even if it did look like shit: itwas bulletproof, with a pull-up Kevlar baby bib to fasten around yourneck if the going got rough. A severely lateral customer with a ceramicswitchblade had tried to stab Rydell through the Lucky Dragon logo hissecond week on the job, and Rydell had sort of bonded with the thingafter that.

    He had that switchblade up in his room over Mrs. Siekevitz's garage.They'd found it below the peanut butter, after the LAPD had taken thelateral one away. It had a black blade that looked like sandblasted glass.Rydell didn't like it; the ceramic blade gave it a weird balance, and itwas so sharp that he'd already cut himself with it: twice. He wasn't surewhat he should do with it.

    Tonight's curb check looked dead simple. There was a Japanese girlstanding out there with a seriously amazing amount of legs runningdown from an even more amazingly small amount of shorts. Well, sortof Japanese. Rydell found it hard to make distinctions like that in LA.Durius said hybrid vigor was the order of the day, and Rydell guessed hewas right. This girl with all the legs, she was nearly as tall as Rydell, andbe didn't think Japanese people usually were. But then maybe she'dgrown up here, and her family before her, and the local food had madethem taller. He'd heard about that happening. But, no, he decided, gettingcloser, the thing was, she wasn't actually a girl. Funny how you gotthat. Usually it wasn't anything too obvious. It was like he really wantedto buy into everything she was doing to be a girl, but some subliminalmessage he got from her bone structure just wouldn't let him.

    "Hey," he said.

    "You want me to move?"

    "Well," Rydell said, "I'm supposed to."

    "I'm supposed to stand out here convincing a jaded clientele to buyblow jobs. What's the difference?

    Rydell thought about it. "You're freelance." he decided, "I'm onsalary. You go on down the street for twenty minutes, nobody's going tofire you." He could smell her perfume through the complicated pollutionand that ghostly hint of oranges you got out here sometimes. Therewere orange trees around, had to be, but he'd never found one.

    She was frowning at him, "Freelance."

    "That's right."

    She swayed expertly on her stacked heels, fishing a box of RussianMarlboros from her pink patent purse. Passing cars were already honkingat the sight of the Lucky Dragon security man talking to this six-foot-plusboygirl, and now she was deliberately doing something illegal. Sheopened the red-and-white box and pointedly offered Rydell a cigarette.There were two in there, factory-made filter tips, but one was shorterthan the other and had blue metallic lipstick on it.

    "No thanks."

    She took out the shorter one, partially smoked, and put it betweenher lips. "Know what I'd do if I were you?" Her lips, around the tan filtertip, looked like a pair of miniature water beds plastered with glitteryblue candy coat.

    "What?"

    She took a lighter from her purse. Like the ones they sold in thosetobacciana shops. They were going to make that illegal too, he'd heard.She snapped it and lit her cigarette. Drew in the smoke, held it, blew itout, away from Rydell. "I'd fuck off into the air."

    He looked into the Lucky Dragon and saw Durius say something toMiss Praisegod Satansbane, the checker on this shift. She had a finesense of humor, Praisegod, and he guessed you had to, with a name likethat. Her parents were some particularly virulent stripe of SoCal NeoPuritan,and had taken the name Satansbane before Praisegod had beenborn. The thing was, she'd explained to Rydell, nobody much knew what"bane" meant, so if she told people her last name, they mostly figuredshe was a Satanist anyway. So she often went by the surname Proby,which had been her father's before he'd gotten religion.

    Now Durius said something else, and Praisegod threw back hershoulders and laughed. Rydell sighed. He wished it had been Durius'turn to do curb check.

    "Look," Rydell said, "I'm not telling you you can't stand out here.The sidewalk's public property. It's just that there's this company policy."

    "I'm going to finish this cigarette," she said, "and then I'm callingmy lawyer."

    "Can't we just keep it simple?"

    "Uh-uh." Big metallic-blue, collagen-swollen smile.

    Rydell glanced over and saw Durius making hand signals at him.Pointing to Praisegod, who held a phone. He hoped they hadn't calledLAPD. He had a feeling this girl really did have herself a lawyer, andMr. Park wouldn't like that.

    Now Durius came out. "For you," he called. "Say it's Tokyo."

    "Excuse me," Rydell said, and turned away.

    "Hey," she said.

    "Hey what?" He looked back.

    "You're cute."


Chapter Three


DEEP IN


LANEY hears his piss gurgle into the screw-top plastic liter bottle. It'sawkward kneeling here, in the dark, and he doesn't like the way the bottlewarms in his hand, filling. He caps it by feel and stands it upright inthe corner that's farthest from his head when he sleeps. In the morning,he'll carry it under his coat to the Men's and empty it. The old manknows he's too sick now to crawl out, to walk the corridor every time,but they have this agreement. Laney pisses in the bottle and takes it outwhen he can.

    He doesn't know why the old man lets him stay here. He's offeredto pay, but the old man just keeps building his models. It takes him aday to complete one, and they're always perfect. And where do they gowhen he finishes them? And where do the unbuilt kits come from?

    Laney has a theory that the old man is a sensei of kit-building, anational treasure, with connoisseurs shipping in kits from around theworld, waiting anxiously for the master to complete their vintageGundams with his unequaled yet weirdly casual precision, his Zenmoves, perhaps leaving each one with a single minute and somehow perfectflaw, at once his signature and a recognition of the nature of theuniverse. How nothing is perfect, really. Nothing ever finished.Everything is process, Laney assures himself, zipping up, settling backinto his squalid nest of sleeping bags.

    But the process is all a lot stranger than he ever bargained for, hereflects bunching a fold of sleeping bag to pillow his head against thecardboard, through which he can feel the hard tile wall of the corridor.

    Still, he thinks, he needs to be here. If there's any place in TokyoRez's people won't find him, this is it. He's not quite sure how he gothere; things got a little fuzzy around the time the syndrome kicked in.Some kind of state change, some global shift in the nature of his perception.Insufficient memory. Things hadn't stuck.

    Now he wonders if in fact he did make some deal with the old man.Maybe he's already covered this, the rent, whatever. Maybe that's whythe old man gives him food and bottles of flat mineral water and toleratesthe smell of piss. He thinks that might be it, but he isn't sure.

    It's dark in here, but he sees colors, faint flares and swathes andstipplings, moving. Like the afterimages of the DatAmerica flows arepermanent now, retinally ingrained. No light penetrates from the corridoroutside—he's blocked every pinhole with black tape—and the oldman's halogen is off. He assumes the old man sleeps there, but he'snever seen him do it, never heard any sounds that might indicate a transitionfrom model-building to sleep. Maybe the old man sleeps uprighton his mat, Gundam in one hand, brush in the other.

    Sometimes he can hear music from the adjacent cartons, but it'sfaint, as though the neighbors use earphones.

    He has no idea how many people live here in this corridor. It looksas though there might be room for six, but he's seen more, and it maybe that they shelter here in shifts. He's never learned much Japanese,not after eight months, and even if he could understand, he guesses,these people are all crazy, and they'd only talk about the things crazypeople talk about.

    And of course anyone who could see him here now, with his feverand his sleeping bags, his eyephones and his cellular data port and hisbottle of cooling piss, would think he was crazy too.

    But he isn't. He knows he isn't, in spite of everything. He has thesyndrome now, the thing that came after every test subject from thatGainesville orphanage, but he isn't crazy. Just obsessed. And the obsessionhas its own shape in his head, its own texture, its own weight. Heknows it from himself, can differentiate, so he goes back to it wheneverhe needs to and checks on it. Monitors it. Makes sure it still isn't him.it reminds him of having a sore tooth, or the way he felt once when hewas in love and didn't warn to be. How his tongue always found thetooth, or how he'd always find that ache, that absence in the shape ofthe beloved.

    But the syndrome wasn't like that. It was separate from him and hadnothing to do with anyone or anything he, Laney, was even interestedin. When he'd felt it starting, he'd taken it for granted that it would beabout her, about Rei Toei, because there he was, close to her, or as closeas you could get to anyone who didn't physically exist. They'd talkedalmost every day, Laney and the idoru.

    And at first, he considered now, maybe it had been about her, butthen it was as though he'd been following something back through thedata flows, doing it without really thinking about it, the way your handwill find a thread on a garment and start pulling at it, unraveling it.

    And what had unraveled was the way he'd thought the worldworked. And behind that he'd found Harwood, who was famous, butfamous in that way of being famous for being famous. Harwood whothey said had elected the president. Harwood the PR genius, who'dinherited Harwood Levine, the most powerful PR firm in the world, andhad taken it somewhere seriously else, into a whole other realm of influence.But who'd managed somehow never to become prey to the mechanismof celebrity itself. Which grinds, Laney so well knew, exceedinglyfine. Harwood who, maybe, just maybe, ran it all, but somehow managednever to get his toe caught in it. Who managed, somehow, to befamous without seeming to be important, famous without being centralto anything. Really, he'd never even gotten much attention, except whenhe'd split with Maria Paz, and even then it had been the Padanian starwho'd made the top of every sequence, with Cody Harwood smilingfrom a series of sidebars, embedded hypertext lozenges: the beauty andthis gentle-looking, secretive, pointedly uncharismatic billionaire.

    "Hello," Laney says, his fingers finding the handle of a mechanicalflashlight from Nepal, a crude thing, its tiny generator driven by a mechanismlike a pair of spring-loaded pliers. Pumping it to life, he raises it,the faintly fluctuating beam finding the cardboard ceiling. Which isplastered, inch by inch, with dozens of stickers, small and rectangular,produced to order by a vending machine inside the station's westentrance: each one a different shot of the reclusive Harwood.

    He can't remember going to the machine, executing a simple imagesearch for Harwood, and paying to have these printed out, but he supposeshe must have. Because he knows that that is where they are from.But neither can he remember peeling the adhesive backing from eachone and sticking them up on the ceiling. But someone did. "I see you,"Laney says and relaxes his hand, letting the dim beam brown and vanish.


Chapter Four


FORMAL ABSENCES OF PRECIOUS THINGS


IN Market Street, the nameless man who haunts Laney's nodal configurationhas just seen a girl.

    Drowned down three decades, she steps fresh as creation from thebronze doors of some brokerage. And he remembers, in that instant, thatshe is dead, and he is not, and that this is another century, and this quiteclearly another girl, some newly minted stranger, one with whom he willnever speak.

    And passing this one now, through a faint chromatic mist of incomingnight, he bows his head some subtle increment in honor of thatother, that earlier passing.

    And sighs within his long coat, and the harness he wears beneaththat: a taking in and giving up of one resigned breath, thronged aroundby the traders descending from their various places of employment.Who continue to emerge into the October street, toward drink or dinneror whatever home, whatever sleep, awaits them.

    But now the one with whom he will not speak is gone as well, andhe awash in some emotion, not loss exactly but a very particular awarenessof his own duration in the world and in its cities, and this one mostof all.

    Beneath his right arm, reliably concealed, depends a knife thatsleeps head down, like a vampire bat, honed to that edge required bysurgeons, when surgeons cut with steel.

    It is secured there with magnets set within a simple hilt of nickelsilver. The blade's angled tip, recalling a wood carver's chisel, inclinestoward the dark arterial pulse in the pit of his arm, as if reminding himthat he too is only ever inches from that place the drowned girl went, solong ago, that timelessness. That other country, waiting.

    He is by trade a keeper of the door to that country.

    Drawn, the black blade becomes a key. When he holds it, he holdsthe wind in his hand.

    The door swings gently open.

    But he does not draw it now, and the traders see only a gray-hairedman, wolfishly professorial, in a coat of grayish green, the color of certainlichens, who blinks behind the fine gold rims of his small round glassesand raises his hand to halt a passing cab. Though somehow they do not,as they easily might, rush to claim it as their own, and the man steps pastthem, his cheeks seamed vertically in deep parentheses, as though it hasbeen his habit frequently to smile. They do not see him smile.


THE Tao, he reminds himself, mired in traffic on Post Street, is olderthan God.

    He sees a beggar seated beneath a jeweler's windows. In those windowsare small empty pedestals, formal absences of precious things,locked away now for the night. The beggar has wrapped his legs and feetin brown paper tape, and the effect is startlingly medieval, as thoughsomeone has partially sculpted a knight from office materials. The trimcalves, the tapered toes, an elegance calling out for ribbons. Above thetape, the man is a blur, a spastic scribble, his being abraded by concreteand misfortune. He has become the color of pavement, his very race inquestion.

    The cab lurches forward. The man in the loden coat reaches withinit to adjust the knife against his ribs. He is left-handed, and he hasthought often about such subtle polarities.

    The girl who drowned so long ago has settled now, swept down ina swirl of toffee hair and less hurtful memories, to where his youth turnsgently, in its accustomed tides, and he is more comfortable that way.

    The past is past, the future unformed.

    There is only the moment, and that is where he prefers to be.

    And now he leans forward, to rap, once, upon the driver's tintedsafety shield.

    He asks to be taken to the bridge.

THE cab draws up before a rain-stained tumble of concrete tank traps,huge rhomboids streaked with rust, covered with the stylized initials offorgotten lovers.

Continues...
Excerpted from All Tomorrow's Partiesby William Gibson Copyright ©2000 by William Gibson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

--Questo testo si riferisce a un'edizione alternativa kindle_edition.

Dettagli prodotto

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B002RI9284
  • Editore ‏ : ‎ Penguin; New Ed edizione (5 ottobre 2000)
  • Lingua ‏ : ‎ Inglese
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  • Lunghezza stampa ‏ : ‎ 282 pagine
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