Pattern Recognition

Pattern Recognition

Unlike his previous work, Gibson’s latest Pattern Recognition is set in the present. There is no fancy hi-tech, nanotech or body modification. There are just Macs, first-class flights, marketing and the Internet.

The story itself bears an uncanny resemblance to that of Count Zero, one of the earliest Gibson books which I have mentioned before: a filthy rich tycoon sends a young woman of extraordinary sensibilities on a quest after the author of an exceptional piece of art. And Cornell boxes are mentioned again, too.

During the first few pages I had an odd feeling: a Gibson heroine googling, checking her Hotmail and using a Mac? It just didn’t sound right. But this feeling quickly subsided, leading to an enjoyment very different from the one I got while reading previous Gibsons. While the earlier Gibson work has a style that makes me think of polished steel with razor sharp edges, Pattern Recognition has something infinitely more warm about it, something that brings the main character closer, something that made me more emotionally involved with her. And the writing is still sharp as a knife; as a nice good-quality WMF knife, not as a sci-fi nano-tech enhanced one.

A snippet:

The rain has stopped but drops still fall from ledges and awnings, beading on the nylon of her new Rickson’s. Absently she reaches to touch the place where the tape should be, but it isn’t there. No hole. History erased via the substitution of an identical object.

Just now she wishes lives could be replaced as easily, but knows that that isn’t right. However odd things seem, mustn’t it be to exactly that extent of oddness that a life is one’s own, and no one else’s? Hers has never been without its share of oddness, but something in its recent texture seems to belong to someone else. She’s never lived her life in such a way as to generate sliding doors and secret passages, the hallmarks, she believes, of some basis in bullshit, of an underlying lack of honesty that she doesn’t believe has been hers. She hasn’t ever, previously, been a person to be burgled, followed, assaulted with intent to rob. All the time she’s spent in the world’s various streets, scouting cool for the commodifiers, these things hadn’t happened. Why now? What has she done wrong?