"Money was maliciously introduced in ancient times as a tool of enslavement" -
Michael Tellinger

"The present belongs to the future and future generations, and all old laws, religious and other, should be abrogated immediately. Free us!" - Vinay Gupta on Twitter

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - R. Buckminster Fuller

"You find the strangest ways to be positive!" - Diane Duane, Wizards Abroad

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (book review)

Here's a book that has held up well. "Pattern recognition" was still a fresh concept for me to get my head around at the time this novel came out, but since then I've seen it pop up all over the place.

Meanwhile, I revisited the book via an audio version a year or so, and found that the novel is still a great science fiction read, suspenseful and challenging. I'd also reread some of Gibson's early novels in the meantime, and when I heard the audio of Pattern Recognition, was reminded of his references to characters in those earlier books.

What an interesting body of work Gibson's produced. The earlier books still feel fresh to me, even though you'd think they'd be dated (since the plots and mise en scene are all about the latest cyber technologies and trends, which are so quickly overtaken by new ones, in these times); but they still make good stories decades later, because the characters are great, the tales are well plotted, and what might seem dated now comes across, instead, as alternate and highly stylized worlds. And, well, some things are just universal.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (2005)

Cayce Pollard is a well-paid professional marketer. She and her friends-filmmakers, dealers in electronic esoterica, designers, and hackers-live on the cutting edge of a highly technological, "post-geographic" world, where the manipulation of cultural trends can bring great power.

When she is employed to discover the source of "the Footage," a mysterious film that has been appearing in bits and pieces on the Web and gathering a worldwide underground following, her survival is at stake. In her search for the auteur, she outwits corporate spies, terrorists, and mobsters in London, Tokyo, Moscow, and New York; struggles with ethical issues; and even delves into the mystery of her father's disappearance on September 11, 2001.

Some readers might feel that this novel demands too much of them-the prose is witty, each page challenges with provocative observations, and there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle. But those who enjoyed Gibson's earlier work, or the writing of Neal Stephenson or Bruce Sterling, should relish this headlong race through an unsettling but recognizable world to a surprisingly humane conclusion.

(originally reviewed for SLJ)

PS here's a recent think piece on pattern recognition


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