Maker Lab Book Club and Design Jam: The Peripheral

At our design jam and book club, Maker Lab visitors respond to a design problem raised by a science fiction novel or story, or a popular science article or book. We try to come up with a design that would solve a challenge faced by the story's characters, or a real-world problem. If time allows, we prototype the design on our lab equipment, including 3D printers and laser cutters. The format includes a short discussion of the reading followed by a collaborative design session. Science fiction has had some surprising influences on actual technology, beyond the obvious effect of sparking young people's interest in science and technology careers.

The next Maker Lab Book Club and Design Jam meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, September 10 in the Maker Lab to discuss and build on William Gibson's The Peripheral.

Librarian John, our host, answered a couple questions about this book to set the stage.

Q: What is the coolest device in this book (plot, technological, magical)?

A: This month's title, The Peripheral, is a kind of time travel story, but information is what is traveling between branching timelines. That enables characters from one timeline to inhabit the titular peripherals, which are remote presence androids, in another timeline. There's other cool tech too, and part of the fun is figuring out how everything fits together in this fictional world. Gibson just throws you into it and feeds you clues strategically.

Q: Is there a work of art or music that would fit right in to this book?

A: The music playlist I would pick for reading this work would include alternating chilly and driving and funky grooves from such artists as Cluster, Eno and Can.