I had heard this show was going to be in production right around when I had read the book originally about 2 years ago. The book I found presented a lot of very interesting speculation regarding geopolitics and commented on the nature of what humans will do to get ahead, within whatever system they inhabit. When first reading about the show I had expected it to basically adhere as much as was feasible to the book's plot, with events happening in the same order, the characters recreated as faithfully as possible, etc. Basically I had expected what anyone should expect from a good TV adaption, and given who the producers were I was especially optimistic about what we might be getting.
Well, this is not the case here. The story has been completely rewritten for The Peripheral in this show, events happen completely out of order, many events from the book don't happen at all, an entire section of the world and characters to go along with it are just added in, and the show elaborates on a lot of things which were left to the reader's imagination in the book. The book had fewer characters and was a slightly more focused story (as focused a story as something like this can be, at least). The worst part for me is the pacing, the show is much more in-your-face with the action and begins very revelatory events just straight from the get-go, there's no building of suspense as Gibson had originally written it, no noir, and after that the story immediately veers off in its own direction. Moreover, the parts of the show's world that are also present in the book are quite different. While the basic set pieces are the same, the near future in the show is much less bleak than it was in the book, whereas the farther future in the show is bleaker than what Gibson had written, although only in appearance. This doesn't matter so much for the far future but it is somewhat immersion breaking in the near future. Characters in one timeline are recreated quite faithfully (for the most part), even if the actions they end up taking are very different in key areas, while characters in the other timeline are for the most part completely rewritten, they have different backstories and different current stories, many characters are missing, and several new characters are just piled in there, making the story more expanded.
For those who haven't read the book, don't confuse this for a negative review, the show is good, it's fine, there's a reason I'm giving this 4 stars. Amazon's The Peripheral definitely worth watching. Despite most of the characters in the show differing significantly from the book (differing in worse ways if you ask me) and the storyline being completely different, all of the changes are consistent within the world the show creates. On its own, the story of the show makes sense and is well written, dialogue and exposition are intelligent, and there's even some literary depth to the writing. This being a high budget production, things such as effects, costumes, sets, etc are all very professionally done and easy to watch. There are several gripping scenes throughout the episodes, and despite revelatory items in the book having their beans spilled right away in the show, the show has its own revelations to tactically sprinkle throughout the episodes, keeping us viewers engaged, there's a mystery here too, just a different one. There are many more events happening in the show compared to the book, likely so they can fill two seasons with the story on hand here.
Below I will highlight some specific differences, ONLY look further if you've already read the book.
! ! ! SPOILERS BELOW ! ! !
Starting with the characters, here in the show there is no Daedra, there is no garbage patch, and consequently there is no mystery regarding who killed Aelita because Aelita is a completely different person here, actually related to Netherton. For that matter Rainey isn't in the show either, only briefly mentioned in the first couple of episodes. Lev is not at all like he is in the book, much more overtly sinister, with a "bad guy" persona that he didn't possess in the book, where, as you recall he was more of an advanced hobbyist who could be a bit meek at times. On the subject of Lev, the entire operation in the future with Flynne is different as well, there is no garage, no big Mercedes (likely due to budget reasons), the entire parts of the show at Lev's house take place around his kitchen. Netherton doesn't have a drinking problem, Ash isn't pale or very bohemian, Lowbeer appears way later and also isn't pale. I don't want to go too much further as I don't wish to completely spoil the events of the show.
In terms of the near future, characters are mostly accurate, the thing that's very different to how I imagined it however is the setting. The town they live in is quite nice actually, not at all like the terribly run down, drug infested, foggy Tennessee (I think) town in the book. Corbell's house is nice, even, he has his drug operations elsewhere (again likely due to budget reasons). There's no foam on the inside of the airstream, and the area around it is much closer to the house than it was in the book and significantly less muddy (that's just a small thing though). The town itself is also almost idyllic, the roads are nice, all of the places I imagined in the book as being separate buildings kind of in the middle of nowhere are actually all part of the downtown, Jimmy's place is a town bar, the Fab looks like it was built in a repurposed laundromat, and everyone has relatively fresh-looking vehicles, no Chinese paper cars anywhere to be found. The far future events which affect the near future are also completely different, for starters the neural cut-out is revealed right away and initially meant for Burton instead of Flynne, there's also no initial part of the future that Flynne plays on her phone thinking it's a game, it's just straight into the Peripheral. Again, from there the story takes a completely different direction, both in the present and in the future. I feel like some of Gibson's swagger with worldbuilding is lost in the translation from book to show, and I doubt the show will end up being as cynical in parts (Daedra) and hopeful in others (Lowbeer) as Gibson's original book was, it also leaves much less to the imagination, and generally feels a little more muted in a literary sense. Not everything the show changed is bad, for example the events which took place during the jackpot are very elaborately described, giving some nice story, and the show has quite the interconnected story in its own right, the new characters add some more understandability to the far future world. Still, I will always be a bit sad that the show isn't a faithful recreation of Gibson's "The Peripheral". That's why I will call this Amazon's "The Peripheral".