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William Gibson. Berkley, $28 (416p) ISBN 978-1-101-98693-6

Cyberpunk pioneer Gibson disappoints with this inventive but jumbled prequel to The Periphery. In 2017, gifted “app whisperer” Verity Jane is hired to beta test a pair of eye-glasses that double as an artificial intelligence assistant named Eunice. As Eunice’s personality and capabilities grow, Verity decides to hide the AI’s rapid development from her mysterious new employers. She can’t keep the secret for long, however, as agents from a century into the future descend to make sure that Eunice­—a misplaced technology from their time—doesn’t start a nuclear war. Though the writing is packed with intriguing concepts and characters, the scrambled timelines and shifting narrative perspective make an already complicated plot even harder to follow. The characters from the future fall flat, especially in comparison to the dynamic, fully-realized personalities of Verity and Eunice. Cyberpunk fans looking to dive into the “what-if’s” of an alternate timeline will be as enraptured as ever by Gibson’s imagination, but they’ll be left with more questions than answers. (Jan.)