Reading – A review of Gibson’s Pattern Recognition

Just finished William Gibson’s latest book: Pattern Recognition. It was better than I expected it to be, but I still found it to be a weak book badly in need of a critical editor. Initially it seems to recaptures the edge that he had with Neuromancer and Mona Lisa Overdrive, and seemed to have lost with Idoru and subsequent offerings, but like his last few offerings, the ending is weak and incomplete, the subplot just disappears, and the wrap-up just leaves the reader annoyed by it’s simplistic made-for-Hollywood happy ending. I found myself rereading the final two chapters…convinced I’d missed something…because *that* couldn’t have been how it ended…but alas, it was.

Unlike previous books, which are set in futuristic settings, this one is set in the present and has no tech that doesn’t actually exist…which lends the book a verisimilitude of reality…but, story elements that might pass easily enough in a world of the not-too-distant future ring false in this version of the present, where the comparison to what actually *is* is constantly invited. Likewise, the introduction of September 11th is forced and suspect.

The central theme is branding, the influence brands have on our world, their strange, hybrid status of material property and tribal marking. The quest is for the maker of a series of footage clips which appear on the net and create an instant subculture of people trying to make sense of the clips. The book moves quickly through the environs of New York, London and Moscow as the primary character seeks to find the makers, using the money and technology of the owner of a major ad agency.

As usual, his prose is brilliant…but the darkness that was such a huge part of his work in the 80’s is completely gone…as though he’s trying to write through the haze of force-fed Prozac. But then, I could still be annoyed at the end, which in my opinion, was in dire need of some serious rewrite and editing work. That being said, it was still an enjoyable way to spend 4 of 5 hours, even with the disappointment of the final 15 minutes. I would recommend checking this one out from the library, rather than purchasing it…because I’m not sure it deserves a second read.

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