Book review: Pattern recognition

William Gibsons new book held a strange attraction for me, one I find it very difficult to explain.

We all know that Gibson has come a long way since the days of Neuromancer and the two followups, and pattern recognition is the logical conclusion to the direction his latest books have been taking. But at the same time, he also revisits themes and ideas from his cyberpunk books, especially from Count Zero.

The story of pattern recognition is… well simple. Cayce Pollard is a cool hunter. A woman so attuned to commercial brands, that she can predict new trends, or foretell the success of a new logo. The downside of ther talent is, that she is so sensitive, that she has brand phobia to a degree where she can only wear brand free clothes, so she gets a locksmith to sand the Levis logo of her jeans buttons. Cayce embarks on a quest to find the maker of the footage, disconnected snippets of film that appear anonymously on the net.

But the story is not the focus here. Instead, it is the sense of the world that Gibson describes. How this world feels. The themes are alienation, loneliness, jetlag, searching for something you don’t understand against hidden opposition. This makes the story a powerful commentary of modern life, that certainly resonated strongly with me.

The characters’ reaction to the footage (they find it compelling, without really being able to pinpoint why) is very much like my own reaction to the book. And this again is very much like the feelings evoked in Marla Krushkova (one of the characters in Count Zero), when she sees the artwork produced by the artificial intelligence in that book.

As you can probably tell, I really like the book, and the feel of a modern world we don’t quite understand that it imparts.

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