Where to start reading The Peripheral if you've seen the TV series?
February 10, 2024 3:51 PM   Subscribe

I enjoyed the (sadly cancelled) Peripheral streaming series. I've read and enjoyed some of Gibson's other books, but I haven't read The Peripheral or The Agency. Since the series was cancelled I'd like to finish the story. Is there a solid spot in the book to pick up where the first/only season left off, or does it diverge enough from the book that I might as well start from the beginning?

Yes, I am very lazy.
posted by jedicus to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Start at the beginning. The show is very different and not nearly as good.
posted by kokaku at 3:56 PM on February 10 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Came in the nth that you start from the beginning. This is intended to be a trilogy; only two books have been published (six years apart!): The Peripheral and The Agency.
posted by BlueTongueLizard at 4:09 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Start at the beginning. There are several sub-plot elements present that are entirely absent from the (imho excellent) tv series.

Starring 30 Rock’s Kaylee Hooper!
posted by bug138 at 4:56 PM on February 10

Best answer: Yes, start at the beginning. I enjoyed the show very much, but I love the book more, and it's got so much more than the show. If your familiarity with Gibson is his pre-2000 works (the Sprawl Trilogy, starting with Neuromancer, or the Bridge Trilogy), his writing style has matured and, I think, focused. Don't deprive yourself of the pleasure of reading it.
posted by lhauser at 5:21 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Was in much the same boat as you, and read the book after seeing the show. Definitely start at the beginning. There's enough differences between the two that you kind of have to do it that way.

(Also, I've been told that Agency is not as good; still don't know if I'm going to read that one. Did enjoy The Peripheral, though.)
posted by May Kasahara at 7:51 PM on February 10

Best answer: Agree with all the above, but an added note: I thought the first book was great (and you likely will, too, if you liked the show), but thought the second book was a mess. Maybe the third book, when it comes out, will justify the middle one's choices, but I found it largely (but not universally!) unsatisfying on its own terms.

(It might have been ruined by having to be rewritten during the Trump era? Or maybe we were ruined as readers by having to live through it.)
posted by nobody at 7:54 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]

Wilf as Chadwick Bozeman, didn't sit right with me. But can't get any of my people to watch it, so still haven't made it past episode 1.

But a very good book. The Agency is pretty good as well. Liking this trilogy better than Spook Country|Zero History. Disappointed after how good Pattern Recognition was.

Count Zero Interrupt...
posted by Windopaene at 8:58 PM on February 10

Best answer: There is a lot of difference between the book and series, and it's a very intricate story, best to start the book from the beginning. It's an absolutely fantastic book.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 9:35 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]

does it diverge enough from the book that I might as well start from the beginning?

This is not about divergence between screen entertainment, and book. The movie or TV show made from or inspired by a novel must always omit some detail (and its producers always change stuff to further their own agendas). Those details are what you'll pick up, starting at the beginning. The divergence that occurs with Gibson is between his books and the real world, which is why his most recent is always the best, and that's the one in any of his series which should be read ASAP (you can always go back and catch up on the previous, later).
posted by Rash at 7:58 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

Best answer: After about halfway through the season, the book and series had very little to do with each other. (You can view my Fanfare posts if you really want details.) There were pretty strong divergences from the very first episode but the last couple episodes had pretty much 0% content from the book. The TV series wasn't terrible, but it's in that category of Starship Troopers where the adaption is more based on the cover art than the prose.

I really enjoyed the first book, for all of its MacGuffin sillyness. I'd skip the second if I were you (it was mediocre to the point of feeling like bad fan fiction). Or unless you really like stories with hapless protagonists being driven around the Bay area for several days.

If you haven't read the Bridge trilogy, I'd put it away higher on the list of essential Gibson.
posted by Candleman at 8:37 AM on February 11 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Gibson said he liked to think of the show as a "stub" in the book, one possible branch the story could have taken, but didn't, which is a nice way to think of it. Still, the show, while it had some moments, just couldn't match the novel, which is definitely worth checking out.

Agency was honestly not as good, for a lot of reasons, one of which is that it felt, unlike most Gibson, already out of date in an awkward way. Add to it that it kind of falls into one of his worst writing habits: the main character is just sort of in a place while other people do things, and at the end, there's a party to celebrate... something?

I'm hopeful for Jackpot, though he has said he's had to readjust several things and do some re-writing as reality seems to be catching up with his story too quickly.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:58 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

Okay, I only would like to add that I enjoyed Agency. Not an answer to the question, I know, but maybe nice to know some people enjoyed the book. :-)

(note to self: re-read Agency again to see if I still like it now I know most others don't)
posted by Kosmob0t at 2:25 PM on February 12

The Peripheral made a strong case for just adapting the damn book instead of trying to make a character-driven franchise out of things; such is the nature of the book series that not all of the characters are re-used from book to book, and that sort of thing is generally anathema for TV series. (Altered Carbon was a profoundly courageous exception, recasting a relatively bankable hero actor, just as the internal universe demands.)

So, the TV show failed to complete the first book, partly due to some marking time mid-series.

Definitely start with The Peripheral. The third book, supposedly titled Jackpot, may be years away, though; there were 6 years between the first 2 books, the latter of which was published in 2020. You know yourself better than we do: do you want to start the trilogy now or wait until Jackpot is in the offing?
posted by Sunburnt at 8:00 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

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