A fabulous book for the nerdy and pseudo-scientific. A fun story with an interesting take on how our consumer culture has affected the world and it's people. If you can't get around an artistic use of language (not quite ala Clockwork Orange) then this book isn't for you.
Cayce is a woman who gets physically ill when she sees a poorly designed logo. This rare gift pulls her into a mystery that unfolds in a typical Gibson world of high-technology and twisted characters. This is a page turner, and not for sci-fi fans only.
The first of William Gibson's usually futuristic novels to be set in the present, Pattern Recognition is a masterful snapshot of modern consumer culture and hipster esoterica. Set in London, Tokyo, and Moscow, Pattern Recognition takes the reader on a tour of a global village inhabited by power-hungry marketeers, industrial saboteurs, high-end hackers, Russian mob bosses, Internet fan-boys, techno archeologists, washed-out spies, cultural documentarians, and our heroine Cayce Pollard--a soothsaying "cool hunter" with an allergy to brand names.
Pollard is among a cult-like group of Internet obsessives that strives to find meaning and patterns within a mysterious collection of video moments, merely called "the footage," let loose onto the Internet by an unknown source. Her hobby and work collide when a megalomaniac client hires her to track down whoever is behind the footage. Cayce's quest will take her in and out of harm's way in a high-stakes game that ultimately coincides with her desire to reconcile her fathers disappearance during the September 11 attacks in New York.
Although he forgoes his usual future-think tactics, this is very much a William Gibson novel, more so for fans who realize that Gibson's brilliance lies not in constructing new futures but in using astute observations of present-day cultural flotsam to create those futures. With Pattern Recognition, Gibson skips the extrapolation and focuses his acumen on our confusing contemporary world, using the precocious Pollard to personify and humanize the uncertain anxiety, optimistic hope, and downright fear many feel when looking to the future. The novel is filled with Gibson's lyric descriptions and astute observations of modern life, making it worth the read for both cool hunters and their prey.
Willam Gibson follows a talented young woman through a classically Gibson permutation of our social and economic structures. Reluctant and far too cool, our girl threads through the heavily woven plot to the resolution with attitude and grace. Look for Gibson's sweet kicks on the back cover.
Much has been made of Gibsons latest not being science-fiction and its not but its still Gibson, much like Cryptonomicon was still Neal Stephenson. Incidentally, I'd highly recommend this book to fans of Cryptonomicon, as well as to anyone who has enjoyed any of Gibson's other books.
The cyberpunk attitude is still there, as the plot interweaves the world of high tech with subculture, organized crime, and the lives of individuals just instead of in the near future, its happening now.
Cayce is a young woman with an unusual neurosis shes phobic about brand names and logos which can cause serious problems when shes walking around todays advertising-rich, fashion-conscious cities. However, shes made this psychological tic work for her shes in high demand as a marketing consultant who can tell if a proposed logo will be a hit or not.
In her free time, Cayce hangs out in an online chat forum devoted to discussing the footage a collection of video clips that have been anonymously released onto the Internet. The high quality of the video and the mystery surrounding the clips provenance have intrigued a growing number of film fans so many in fact, that Cayce is hired to find out who the filmmaker is, since the marketing strategy is so brilliant.
Little does she guess that the search will bring her from her New York City apartment to London, Tokyo, and Moscow, involving her with vicious businesspeople who may be cutthroat in more ways than one, Cold War era spies, mobsters, millionaires, hired thugs, computer nerds, dealers in vintage calculators, conceptual artists and other odd characters.
The books got suspense, mystery, action but its also full of really interesting ideas and bits of information.
It also truly excels at conveying both the feel and details of visiting cities overseas their similarities and small differences, the disconnect and the exoticism I got that yes! Its just like that!! feeling a LOT with both the London and Tokyo scenes. Moscow, Im not sure I havent been there. But I suspect that Gibson visited both London and Tokyo during the writing of the book but not Russia.
In the future, I suspect people will read this book to gain a feel for what it was like to live at the dawning of the 21st century and theyll get some pretty accurate information (mixed in with the spy thriller stuff!).
Although I enjoyed Pattern Recognition, I think Idoru is a better book of this type. Pattern Recognition seems like a dated look into the future, just 7 years after it was published. It is also a bit more convoluted with a less well-explained dénouement than Idoru. However, it is still a quick, enjoyable read - with a degree of tenderness I find refreshingly surprising in Gibson.
While Gibson's story is solid enough, I find too much of the oh-so-knowing voice, seeming to imply that we all should get every one of the many obscure cultural references. I'm glad I already knew what a Curta calculator was!
I'd also like to nominate one line as the silliest I have read in the last decade:
"...a shallow but mercifully uninhibited sleep, though with a certain sense of sound and fury walled off behind the neurological dryer lint of the melatonin."
I submit that "neurological dryer lint" qualifies this as a parody of itself.
I just can't deal with William Gibson's writing style. I could not deal with it twenty-five years ago when _Neuromancer_ came out, and I can't deal with it now as I tried this book.
The flow is choppy and practically incoherent. He tries much too hard to slice into a genre of his own. Judging by his following, he has succeeded. However, just like with modern art, some see the genius of the artist and some see snot on canvas. I simply don't grok it. Perhaps I will try again in another twenty five years.
Recent NY Times Best Seller with a lot of great press from the critics. I just couldn't get into it.
FROM OUR EDITORS
The Barnes & Noble Review
In the first sentence of his first novel, William Gibson penned one of the most memorable lines in the last quarter century of science fiction or, indeed, any literature: The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. Gibson invented cyberspace, envisioned the matrix. Imagine what he could do with the present.
Well, imagine no more. Pattern Recognition is a wild ride through a world of Hotmail accounts, Tommy Hilfiger displays, Pilates studios: our world. Your protagonist: Cayce Pollard, whose talent consists of a truly extraordinary allergy to brands, trademarks, and fashion. Which, inevitably, makes her invaluable to marketers everywhere on earth.
But this assignmentthis one doesnt merely involve reacting to a logo design. This one is a sprawling mystery. Where do those odd video posts to the Internet come from? Why do they inspire such fanatic loyalty? And who is it that really wants to know -- enough to break into Cayce's apartment, hack her computer, threaten her life?
Walk away? Cayce Pollard has her fathers stubbornness: a former intelligence agent, he was last seen in a taxi headed toward the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001...
This is a story we couldnt stop reading and cant forget. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.
FROM THE PUBLISHER
The accolades and acclaim are endless for William Gibson's coast-to-coast bestseller. Set in the post-9/11 present, Pattern Recognition is the story of one woman's never-ending search for the now.
This was a wonderful book. It was hard to read at first because of the style of writing . Once I caught on to the writing style I really enjoyed it. It is about the computer culture and world politics around characters in their late 20's to mid 30's. The book is a thriller that takes place in England, Japan, and Russia. The story is about some footage on the computer that is being traced and there is a counter culture following the footage and trying to find the source. In steps the big bad guys!!!
Gibson strikes again! What should we, as individuals, be valued for? And what will society find valuable about us? As a retiree from a pressure-cooker career, Gison continually surprises me with his insights. I give books ten or twenty pages to interest me. If they don't, I chuck them. Not Gibson. I find anything he writes difficult to put down.