Patter Recognition

This weekend I finished reading William Gibson’s latest, Pattern Recognition, it’s been out for a while but only recently available in paperback. I wish I could have read it sooner because it was excellent, probably his best since the classic Neuromancer.

It’s his first book set in the present but you almost wouldn’t know it, with the way technology and branding his right now (both intrical parts of the book), associated with the way he describes things and covers a multitude of subjects it feels like you’re in the future, just a couple of steps ahead of every day life but they are exilarating steps.

The story revolves around Cayce Pollard. She works in advertising and “cool hunting” were she has an edge; she’s allergic to major brands, seeing some logos makes her physically ill which helps her determine what works and doesn’t, what is edgy. At the same time she’s a groupie of “footage” a series of short pieces from a movie that fans find and discuss endlessly. We follow her through her quest for the maker. I won’t say more about that aspect but the whole fun is in discovering the clues while at the same time getting a lot of opinions on how our world works and how it’s evolving. Geek-lit at it’s best.

One of the things I love about Gibson’s writing is the way he makes up expressions, ways of describing that no one else uses. I’ll finish this quick review with a few quotes, not sure how they’ll look to someone who’s not “in” the book but I loved them while going through it.

My god, don’t they know? This stuff is simulacra of simulacra of simulacra. A diluted tincture of Ralph Lauren, who had himself diluted the glory days of Brooks Brothers who themselves had stepped on the product of Jermyn Street and Savile Row, flavoring their ready-to-wear with liberal lashings of polo kit and regimental stripes. But Tommy surely is the null point, the black hole. There must be some Tommy Hilfiger even horizon, beyond which it is impossible to be more derivative, more removed from the source, more devoid of soul.

LA, she realizes: except for two goth girls in black brocade, and a boy gotten up in impeccable High Grunge, it’s Rodeo Drive with an extra helping of cheekbones.

But Baranov, come to think of it, is Russian too, or anyway Anglo-Russian. Though that doesn’t seem to click with the linkage she’s trying to braille, here. And neither does Damien, off in the boonies shooting his punk archaeology project…

A new favorite.


amaruk March 10, 2004

This is what I’ve started reading this weekend. I find it slow and very, mmm, literal. Might be because it is my first Gibson read (I know, I know). Mixed reviews on But you recommend it. Hmm. I think we’ll talk about the book at the next first Wednesday then?

Patrick March 11, 2004

Slow? huh. As opposed to what for example? It’s not an adventure pace but I’ve certainly seen much slower starts. Interesting.

Yup, we should talk it over next time.

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