Spoiler alert: This article contains spoilers for The Peripheral book and TV show.
Prime Video’s widely discussed sci-fi series The Peripheral comes directly from the mind of William Gibson, often considered to be the godfather of the cyberpunk genre. Some of his work, like Johnny Mnemonic and New Rose Hotel, have been adapted into films, but it was his 2014 book The Peripheral that caught the attention of Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy.
Starring Chlöe Grace Moretz and Jack Reynor as Flynne and Burton Fisher, this cyberpunk-infused story follows the siblings in 2032. Burton, a United States Marine Corps veteran, skips his shift at his new VR security job and lets his sister, a professional gamer, take his place. Whilst operating a drone, Flynne witnesses the murder of a woman.
Not sure whether what she saw was real or fiction, Flynne is soon contacted by Wilf Netherton, a publicist that lives in 2099. He survived an apocalyptic event known as “The Jackpot,” where 80% of humanity and most animals were wiped off the face of the earth. Wilf was the one who hired Burton for the security job, which was actually a gift for his client Daedra West’s sister Aelita. By using a server that allows digital information to transfer like time travel, he discovers that the drone Flynne was piloting was the only witness of Aelita’s murder.
Wilf informs Flynne and Burton that they’re in danger, having witnessed the murder. But they also need Flynne to identify the killer. Wilf is asked by the inspector on Aelita’s murder, Ainsley Lowbeer, to bring her into the future via a “peripheral” — a cybernetic body that she can connect to from the past through a special headset known as “the crown.”
As assassins try to kill Flynne in the past, she’s kidnapped by one of Burton’s colleagues who’s been blackmailed by a local drug lord, Corbell Pickett. Pickett reveals that the people behind Aelita’s murder are part of a collective known as Matryoshka and killed her because she was a witness to something.
Burton enlists the help of his friend Conner, a fellow marine veteran and triple amputee, to save Flynne. They succeed, and Conner joins Flynne in the future to protect her and Wilf as they infiltrate a party to find Aelita’s killer. Unfortunately, Flynne is kidnapped (again), this time with Wilf. They learn that Daedra was behind her sister’s murder all along, as was a reanimated Hamed al-Habib. Daedra killed Hamed’s peripheral on that fateful day when they conspired with a city official, Sir Henry, to destroy the patchers so they could sell their resources for profit.
Despite all the drama, The Peripheral ends on a relatively happy note. Flynne is married, and Wilf finds love with a former co-worker once more. Connor receives plans from the future to construct bionic limbs. Flynne regularly meets with Wilf and Lowbeer through her peripheral, so they can discuss what’s being done to avert The Jackpot from happening.
In 2020, Gibson released the sequel to The Peripheral. Titled Agency, the long-awaited novel proved to be a hit among fans and critics alike, introducing new characters to the familiar alternative world.