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.
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.
Darryl R. reviewed Pattern Recognition (Pattern Recognition aka Blue Ant aka Bigend, Bk 1) on
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.