Nominated for a Hugo Award.
This novel contains examples of:
- 20 Minutes into the Future: The trilogy, written in the 1990s, is set in 2006, after a massive earthquake has resulted in the abandonment of the Oakland Bay Bridge, which has since been resettled as a sort of squatters' shantytown.
- Action Girl: Chevette Washington is really more of a subversion of this trope. While strong-willed, independent, and intelligent, she spends most of Virtual Light running and hiding from her pursuers. In one case, she gets in way over her head and only escapes thanks to Rydell.
- Celebrity Resemblance: Berry Rydell is mentioned to look like a young Tommy Lee Jones—the first time by someone who ran his picture through a computer application that provides an In-Universe exploitation of this (the idea being that it helps people remember someone for identification purposes if they know which famous guy/girl they resemble). Ironically enough, Rydell doesn't even know who Jones is.
- Chekhov's Gun: The bag of drugs Chevette gets from her ex-boyfriend. She later uses it to spike Lovelace's drink while he's holding her and Rydell at gunpoint.
- Courier: Chevette Washington.
- Cyber Punk: Or Post-Cyberpunk, depending on who you ask.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: A pair of seemingly ordinary glasses sport an augmented reality device that lets the user access all sorts of data.
- Shoot the Messenger: Chevette Washington, a bicycle messenger, mentions this trope frequently. She's never shot, but she clarifies that the basic idea — blaming a messenger for her message — is true.
- What a Piece of Junk: Chevette's bicycle is a cutting-edge paper-wrapped carbon-fiber frame with a rather serious security system, but carefully painted to look like a beat-up old junker.