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started reading William Gibson over the summer, having become inspired to do so after reading up about one of my old favorite tv shows, Max Headroom (the series, not the Cinemax thing). The article mentioned cyberpunk, and how Gibson's Neuromancer was a huge influencing factor for the tv series. Having played, er, "Shadowrun," a Nintendo game directly influenced by Neuromancer, and digging some cyberpunk movies like The Matrix I asked a friend, and later my stepfather, if the book was any good. Both emphatically agreed that it was, and my journey exploring the works of cyberpunk's g0dh34d Gibson began. ...
I started with Neuromancer of course. Which I thought was "okay." Then, several months later, I moved on to "Idoru," which I also thought was okay. And then I read his short story "Burning Chrome," which I actually enjoyed a lot. More recently, I read another one of his sprawl books, Count Zero. I read that book right after I read the brilliant Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, which is not an order that I recommend. Snow Crash goes places that Count Zero should have. For example, that whole voodoo thing in Count Zero is not as deeply fleshed out/explored as Sumerian mythology is in Snow Crash. But, I guess that's another story for someone who actually cares to write some bloated English comparison paper.
I just finished his most recent tome, Pattern Recognition, and I highly recommend it. Here's the official blurb about the book:
Cayce Pollard is an expensive, spookily intuitive market-research consultant. In London on a job, she is offered a secret assignment: to investigate some intriguing snippets of video that have been appearing on the Internet. An entire subculture of people is obsessed with these bits of footage, and anybody who can create that kind of brand loyalty would be a gold mine for Cayce's client. But when her borrowed apartment is burgled and her computer hacked, she realizes there's more to this project than she had expected.
Unlike Gibson's previous novels, which have been set in the future, PR is set in the near present, in a world we're all too overly familiar with. September 11th is a quiet, yet persistant character. Email is a primary form of communication between disparate strangers who become quick friends over commonalities they wouldn't easily find in real life. Pr0n and p33n spam fill inboxes. I was very easily able to imagine Cayce's world, and follow her and her changing locales (London, Tokyo, Moscow, Paris) easily. And Cayce is a wonderfully flawed heroine. It's amusing that someone in marketing would have a panic disorder (or "allergy," as Cayce calls it) over certain logos and icons, such as the Michilin Man, or Tommy Hilfiger. In a way, it reminded me of Indiana Jones, the bravest man on the planet with a serious fear of snakes.
Gibson skillfully uses the search for the meaning and creator of the "footage," mysterious movie snippets that are appearing on the Net and which are under hot debate by members of a footage subculture, to really pull the reader through the story from beginning to end. We want to know more about the footage, but Gibson only provides us little glimpses of what the footage really is, leaving us to Cayce's speculations and our own about what the footage represents. The mystery of the footage becomes the focal point that successfully weaves our interest in the novel. Secondary characters and events only furthered my interest in finding out what happens next, what new bit of information Cayce has uncovered, and how does that help me try to find out who the maker of the footage is before Cayce does. Yes, in a way, I was an active participant in the novel. Trust me, that sounds silly to me.
If you can pick it up, I highly recommend this book. It's worthy of a read or three. You won't be disappointed.
As an aside, anyone else notice that the hero of Neuromancer and the heroine of Pattern Recognition have the same name... Case--Cayce