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Pattern Recognition Hardcover – February 3, 2003
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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. --Jeremy Pugh
From Publishers Weekly
Gibson, known as the "patron saint of cyberpunk lit," has made his reputation with futuristic tales. Though his new novel is set in the present, baroque descriptions of everyday articles and menacing anthropomorphic treatment of the Internet and sister technology give it a sci-fi feel. Cayce Pollard, a market researcher with razor-sharp intuition, makes big bucks by evaluating potential products and advertising campaigns. In London, she stays in the trendy digs of documentary filmmaker friend Damien (away on assignment), whom she e-mails frequently. When Cayce brusquely rejects the new logo of advertising mogul Hubertus Bigend, she earns his respect and a big check but makes an enemy of his graphic designer, vindictive Dorotea Benedetti. Hubertus later hires Cayce to ferret out the origin of a series of sensual film clips appearing guerrilla style on computers all over the world and attracting a growing cult following. Cayce treats this as a standard job until somebody breaks into Damien's flat and hacks into her computer. Suddenly every casual encounter carries undertones of danger. Her investigative trail takes her to Tokyo and Russia and through a rogue's gallery of iconoclastic Web-heads. Casting a further shadow is the memory of her father, Win, a security expert (probably CIA) missing and presumed dead in the World Trade Center disaster of exactly a year earlier. For complicated reasons even she doesn't understand, she connects her current dilemma with her father's tragedy and follows the trail with the fervor of a personal vendetta. Gibson's brisk, kinetic style and incisive observations should keep the reader entertained even when Cayce's quest begins to lose urgency. Gibson's best book since Mona Lisa Overdrive should satisfy his hardcore fans while winning plenty of new ones.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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A good read, but I compare it to "Burning Chrome" which is quite different and you have to change gears a bit as this story could be happening today.
About a year after the first reading, I went back and was stunned by how much I loved the book. As he matures, Gibson has gotten away from his youthful pyrotechnics and become more interested in things like how power is wielded in society and how marketing creates our sense of culture. You have to slow down to get this book, and savor it like a good meal — but once you've accepted that no one is going to get shot, turn themselves into a cyborg, or rob a bank on a broken leg, I think you'll find Gibson's social and moral matrix as satisfying as the virtual one.
Like other great works of speculative fiction, the book captures the feel of our civilization as it careens toward disaster or transcendence. It's set in a future that might as well be the present, although it's already slightly dated.
Hot on the trail of the ubiquitous yet enigmatic "footage", Cayce ducks and weaves, dodging Italian thugs, Michelin Man phobias and haunting memories of a father lost in the 9/11 rubble. She wakes up from a drug-induced blackout to find herself held captive by a Russian Mafia Kingpin. More, I dare not say.
Spellbinding prose and intriguing characters in surreal situations are the mainstays of Gibson's unique storytelling. I highly recommend it!