Virtual Light is set in a less dystopian and more satirical future than Neuromancer. The title refers to a form of instrumentation that produces optical sensations directly in the eye without the use of photons and which was originally developed to help blind people see. The story primarily takes place in California in 2005, as Gibson imagined it might be like when he wrote the book in the early 1990’s. Besides holding normal jobs and paying taxes, the characters have lives and families, unlike most of the characters in Neuromancer. Some of those characters are actually motivated by moral values, and the novel has a relatively happy ending.
Virtual Light takes place in a time of social, political, and economic turmoil. California has split into two states, NoCal and SoCal, but governments, especially police departments, are still relevant. The main characters are immersed in and dealing with this turmoil, while powerful organizations have their own agenda without regard to the human consequences of their actions. There are interesting supporting characters, such as Skinner, one of the first squatters on the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and Sublett, a Texan who was raised in a religion that believes God can be found on television.
Originally from Beaverton, Oregon, Chevette-Marie Washington is a bicycle courier who lives with Skinner on the bridge. The bridge became a haven for the homeless after it was closed to traffic following an earthquake. When Chevette crashes a party in a hotel in San Francisco, an obnoxious man she immediately dislikes comes on to her. In revenge, she picks his...
(The entire section is 671 words.)