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Pattern Recognition Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 411 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Blue Ant Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 father’s 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425198685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425198681
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (411 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I feel I should start of by stating that this is my first William Gibson novel, so if you're looking for an evaluation of "Pattern Recognition" within the context of his other books, there's no point in reading further. That said, I found "Pattern Recognition" to be a remarkable, moving novel that was a joy to read. Specifically, it is a fascinating look at the paranoia and hope of the post 9/11 world. Gibson deftly considers the difference between crass consumer culture and genuine art, and then swirls them together via our information saturated culture.

As his protagonist, Gibson creates Cayce Pollard, something of a marketing prodigy whose claim to fame is that she can unerringly determine whether or not a brand logo will be successful on first sight. It is therefore intensely ironic that she has a phobia of all commercial branding that manifests itself through something that is akin to a cross between a panic attack and a migraine. Her revulsion to consumer culture is so intense, she goes so far as to remove labels from everything she owns, and dresses in the most stripped down manner possible.

Wrapped inside this duality is the additional one that Cayce, despite her odd phobias, who seems to be an inherently trusting and positive person, is grappling with the death, or more accurately the disappearance of her father in the events surrounding 9/11. Thus her vision of the future is touched by the background, but pervasive, fear that seems to have become part and parcel to our new century.

Cayce's escape from these twin phantoms is an oddly alluring film that is being released piece by piece on the internet (those familiar with Mark Danielewski's "House of Leaves" may see an echo here).
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Format: Hardcover
After I read Neuromancer the first time (yes, I read it more than once), I joked that Gibson wrote it once and then removed about half the words. In Pattern Recognition, he recaptures that hard-edged, terse, yet gorily descriptive prose. It is, as Neil Gaiman says on the back cover, Gibson's best book since his great moment in science fiction history (I still think Neuromancer is the best science fiction book I've ever read). The interesting thing here is that PR is not science fiction, and I believe that is because, unsurprisingly, Gibson, despite the sparkling sentences, is not the same man he was twenty years ago. He has matured and his view of the world, while certainly still dark and paranoid, has changed.
Some will probably say that PR is science fiction. Without doubt, there is much in the book that smacks of the genre, especially the sub-genre Gibson is famous for creating. Technology and it's accouterment are ubiquitous: cell-phones, laptops, software, the internet, chatrooms, servers--all the usual suspects of a Gibson environment. Lights either hurt the eyes or barely exist. Surfaces are hard and shiny, clothing dark, edges lethal, and people all of the above. The lines between corporate executives, crime bosses, and government leaders are blurry, at best. And, as in all Gibson's work, the super-rich are above it all, somehow both less and more human than ordinary people.
However, this book is set squarely in the barely-past-September 11 present. Further, the technology all exists already. There is no prediction and no more speculation than any novel that invents institutions and locales.
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Format: Paperback
My wife and I have been reading Gibson aloud to each other for years now. His prose is so, well, poetic, it really tolerates vocalization quite nicely. After "All Tomorrow's Parties" (the most beautifully written SF novel and one of the most interesting I have read recently), we were quite excited by the advent of "Pattern Recognition" and sprang for the hardcover.
We read it aloud on a long drive together, an hour or so at a time. The "mystery" of the plot and the oblique excitement to know what happens next that it engenders kept us looking forward to each reading session. At the end, however, we finished the novel with a vague feeling of disappointment, of loose-ends being tied up too neatly, of the resolution being essentially too banal for the detail and complexity that lead up to it. Perhaps that was Mr. Gibson's point. Dunno.
However, I must say, that in the months since, points of view about current world culture that are expressed (both implicitly and explicitly) in the novel have kept returning to our casual conversation. I conclude that much of the book is profound in some subtle sense that may not effect you right away, but which will have a long lasting influence on each reader's consciousness of popular trends and their expression in media and merchandise.
A warning: as with most of William Gibson's books, there are layers here. If you are a pop and internet culture enthusiast (not to mention technologically "aware"), that is, if you are "hip" you'll "get" almost all of the book. If not, well, you may not "catch" enough of the (many) cultural references or enough of the interplay between ideas, character, and plot to make it worth your read.
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