3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gibson's Breakout Postmodern novel! **** 1/2 stars
Author William Gibson has always proclaimed the influence of Thomas Pynchon ("V," "Gravity's Rainbow") in his beginnings as an author. With "Pattern Recognition," Gibson not only tips his hat to Pynchon but also seems indebted to him through the book's structural content. Gibson's new book, and I mean no slight in saying this, feels like a re-work of Pynchon's classic...
Published on June 12 2003 by Paul Petrovic
2.0 out of 5 stars End not worth the journey
I must admit that I was lured into the story line by the first fifty pages. Gibson sets up an intriguing enough mystery around the main plot that you want to read on. I must agree whole heartedly with other reviewers though that proclaim "that was it?!?" at the end. There is no climax. The reason for the "footage" leaves you completely unsatisfied...
Published on Dec 1 2003 by Niel Robertson
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gibson's Breakout Postmodern novel! **** 1/2 stars,
Author William Gibson has always proclaimed the influence of Thomas Pynchon ("V," "Gravity's Rainbow") in his beginnings as an author. With "Pattern Recognition," Gibson not only tips his hat to Pynchon but also seems indebted to him through the book's structural content. Gibson's new book, and I mean no slight in saying this, feels like a re-work of Pynchon's classic "The Crying of Lot 49."
Heroine Cayce Pollard, like the heroine of Pynchon's book, finds a symbol that defies decoding and, seeking its answer, slowly gains a not inconsiderable amount of self-knowledge through treks across land and people. Rather than the Trystero in Pynchon's book, which remained a mystery at story's end, here Cayce seeks the Footage and its Creator; what she uncovers dazzled and delighted me. (And watch for the veiled reference to Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" through Win; it changes so much about this book!)
The prose of Gibson in this book is masterful; he is acute and lyrical while noting how material comforts have come to desensitize us and lead to a sense of soul-decay. Truly, this is some of Gibson's most impassioned prose since "Neuromancer." His ear renders some of the most awe-inspiring descriptions and musings this side of Don DeLillo ("White Noise" and "Mao II"). However, whereas DeLillo misstepped slightly with his latest book, "Cosmopolis," Gibson's meditation is eerily, and deadly, on. I can only find one fault with the book, and that is that the end of "Pattern Recognition" starts to let the plot wrap up just a little too quickly.
Still, not merely content to be behind the postmodern masters of DeLillo and Pynchon, Gibson finally closes the ranks with this novel. Through "Pattern Recognition," he proffers himself as one of the accessible yet intelligent authors on the postmodern condition. Familiar, yet deliciously different.
5.0 out of 5 stars great book.,
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read this in university for a class and had read some of Gibson's previous novels. He doesn't disappoint, I love his originality and care about his characters.
2.0 out of 5 stars End not worth the journey,
I must admit that I was lured into the story line by the first fifty pages. Gibson sets up an intriguing enough mystery around the main plot that you want to read on. I must agree whole heartedly with other reviewers though that proclaim "that was it?!?" at the end. There is no climax. The reason for the "footage" leaves you completely unsatisfied. There is no conflict resolved or insight gained. The biggest payoff is getting a bunch of the books web forum posters to meet in the books "real life" (didn't some of us get over this experience ten years ago at our local BBS first "night-out"? i guarantee the story was as climactic as that evenings). Many times, a great journey is worth a bad ending (read: any Neal Stephenson novel...) but his commentary on present day locales like London, Tokyo, and Russian must seem cliche and unsatisfying to anyone who has actually stepped foot outside of the united states a few times (spring break in Mexico not included - sorry folks). Wait for it on video.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but flawed,
This latest book isn't set in the future, but Gibson's world of today somehow manages to feel rather like his world of the future did a few years ago.
I enjoyed it immensely. The story was strange and interesting, the characters quirky and unusual, and the atmosphere thick and compelling.
Most of the action in Pattern Recognition takes place in several very different major world cities, and we get a well formed impression of each place. I get the feeling that Gibson did a lot of travelling to gather material for this work.
After reading it, I feel as if my own life has a stranger and more epic aspect -- that's a measure either of how impressionable I am or how good a writer Gibson is... or both!
With all that being said, I still found several flaws. There are factual errors and I had a few problems with the ending. First the errors:
- Gibson repeatedly says that computer animation is rendered by large groups of people. It's not. It's rendered by large groups of machines.
- He talks about the risk of someone listening in on a cell phone conversation "if they get your frequency". In fact none of the modern cell phones the characters are using would be analog, so they can't be easily listened in on in any case. And they all use the same frequency band.
I wish they'd run these books by some people with real technical backgrounds who can fix these problems before such a book gets published. It would be so easy to do.
- The ending seems rushed, and the mechanism by which all the plot intricacies are explained is too easy.
- Gibson deprives the main characters from figuring out parts of the mystery.
But all these being said, I still consider the book entirely enjoyable and a real work of art. If you've ever liked anything Gibson's done, get this one. Even though it doesn't take place in the future time of Neuromancer, our own time is strange enough to carry the same feeling.
4.0 out of 5 stars Pattern Recognition,
There's a lot to like about this modern (not SF, despite my local library classifying it that way) thriller. Gibson writes beautifully, and evokes the world -- this time the sometimes silly politics of mailing lists and chat rooms -- with great insight. His protagonist, Cayce (and why is she essentially named Case? I could never figure that out) is vivid and interesting.
On the other hand, the book takes a *really* long time to get going -- I mean about page 150 -- and at some points I felt like there really wasn't quite enough plot there to support the tense mood and the number of characters (at least three of whom I couldn't see a real purpose for). Without wanting to give spoilers since this is such a new book, it's about mysterious footage that appears on the Internet, and the various people--from magnates to otaku--who become obsessed with finding out who's creating the footage, why, and what it means. And the answer is a gorgeous one. But do I believe in the amount of danger and tension surrounding the answer? I'm not sure.
On some level, I felt like this was a "thriller" pushing really, really hard to be a literary journey of self-discovery. There's nothing in the least wrong with that--but it was the thriller trappings that at times did not quite work for me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Present catches up to Gibson's Future,
I remember the profound sense of fascination I felt when I read Gibson's 'Neuromancer' many years ago. 'Pattern Recognition' has triggered that same sense of wonder and thoughtfulness. One cannot help but wonder how Gibson himself feels at seeing the Information Age he unknowingly prophecised come true around him, but this novel is an undeniable proof that Gibson has his writer's finger on the "Zeitgeist" of it all.
The story behind 'Pattern Recognition' is rather simple: Cayce Pollard, a 'coolhunter' and marketing consultant, is hired by an ad agency to hunt down the source of an Internet subculture revolving around mysterious video footage. The story, in itself, is not incredibly engaging, but it matters little because there is a lot more to like. The fact that Cayce is 'allergic' to branding is what initially drew me into this novel, but it turns out it plays only an anecdotical role. I did not care about the mystery of the footage at the beginning, but when everything came together, I found the concept behind this poignant and thought-provoking.
To put it simply, the way Gibson writes about culture and technology is awe-inspiring. The novel is littered with little gems, too numerous to recount here. It reminded me of the early Douglas Coupland, but with a more somber, dramatic and meaningful tone. Pattern Recognition, as the title implies, provides thought-provoking themes about chaos, order, and how the human mind struggles to make the later emerge from the former. The many ways in which Casey searches for 'patterns', in the world around her and in her personal life, are moving and deeply satisfying.
I'm amazed at how much more 'mature' Pattern Recognition feels in comparison with Gibson's earlier cyberpunk stuff. It's not that Neuromancer is not as good as it used to be, but you can definitely feel the wiser, more thoughtful approach that two decades of writing have brought to Gibson. It's a joy to see a writer evolve as such, and I hope to see more of this kind of work from Gibson in the future.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, action-filled plot. Perfect for first time readers of Gibson.,
What images would we choose to define our lives? Or a moment in our life? A couple embracing? A bird flying? An empty plastic bag floating on the wind, just grazing the ground? Two twin towers engulfed in flame and smoke?
As the only Gibson book that I've come across to take place unmistakably now, Gibson works his usual ubersleek cyberpunk magic, however in a somewhat tempered manner. Missing is the plethora of technobabble, the drug abusing protagonists, the violent sexual encounters. Although often dripping with amusing similes, this is a sleek and polished piece of intellectual science fiction.
Has Gibson (gulp), gone. . . . normal??
Maybe as normal as is possible, for him.
The story focuses around Cayce Pollard, whose works as a somewhat freelance marketing consultant. With her hyperactive intuition and psychological allergy to logos and name brands, she is able to immediately tell a marketing firm how the public will react to their new logos, brand marketing, etc. In her spare time, Cayce, along with thousands of other webjunkies, follow something simply called "the footage", snippets of video anonymously posted on the internet, in no discernable order. Online discussions abound on who is the maker of The Footage? What does it mean? Is each piece a separate creation, or do they all go together in some meaningful way? And what the heck does it all mean?
Life is relatively normal for Cayce, until a client hires her, under the table, to find the maker of The Footage. How to track down the creator of something that is anonymously posted on the internet, and spread via a 2003 version of YouTube or MySpace? Impossible. But given a limitless budget, Cayce and her connections learn that everyone leaves some kind of tracks, and everything fits some kind of pattern. And if there is some conspiracy, don't waste your time thinking it's all about you, even when it comes full circle.
This book isn't about plot. Sure, it's about plot, the plot is great, there's action, subterfuge, double crossing, web stalking. It's all there, and it works, very well. But Gibson has something much more subtle, much more fragile he's trying to show us. Or maybe I'm just seeing it there because I'm looking for it? No, it was there, floating just beneath the surface, waiting to be found.
Gibson veterans know how easy it is to get buried alive in what he's got going on in his head. This will be a quick and easy read for you. Gibsons virgins, don't worry, this will be an easy read for you too. In fact, this is the perfect introduction to Gibson for first time readers of his fiction. It's not that he's gone soft, or normal, it's that he's gone subtle.
The references to The Matrix and James Bond were greatly appreciated. As were the highly amusing comments on modern fashion.
4 out of 5 spaceships.
Reviewer: Andrea Johnson for Multiverse Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing wrtiting,
I couldn't pinpoint what is it I like about Gibson's books in general and this one in particular. That is until I read someone else's review saying we like it because of the writing.
While reading it I was asked how I like the book, all I could come up with was "It's good.". It's not the story - it's usually simple. It's not exactly the characters - not very distinct, likable or dis-likable. It's easy to put down - not a page turner, but while you reading you are enjoying it immensely.
Recently the association that comes to mind when thinking about his books is black and white movies. Something like Casablanca. Not that I'm a big fan. Just the ability to capture the world and life, without flash and special effects.
2.0 out of 5 stars Good start, bad finish...,
I have been a reader of Gibson since the "Burning Chrome" collection, and I have been less and less enamoured of his work as time has passed.
In spite of a great premise and some good characters, "Pattern Recognition" fail in the end, when Gibson is unable to sustain the mystery and give us a decent payoff. After all the build-up regarding the "footage", the resolution is so flat I re-read it to make sure I hadn't missed anything. Unfortunately, I hadn't.
This will be the last Gibson novel I pick up, because he is no longer cutting edge/visionary/intriguing - (...)
5.0 out of 5 stars irresistable gnomic trivia,
Odd how Gibson fiction is not much good, at the same time, seems better than any other fiction around.
Most fiction is about:
1) Girl does adultery to gain status: Wuthering heights, War & peace, Mme Bovary, (or Tales of Genji, to go back 1000 years)
2) Boy grows up and leaves town : Dubliners, Sons & lovers
3) Hornblower hoists sail, or the SciFi clones of, with space ships and Emperors
Gibson writes flat, detail obsessed studies of people in culture. In the area I am expert in (Cryptography) he actually gets details slightly wrong, so I guess he may be slightly wrong about Vodun, or designer luggage or other areas he details. Somehow it doesnt matter, his air of fascinated resignation, melancholy abstraction, loving attentive indifference, is weirdly compelling (I actually pay money for his work)
He famously defined "cyberspace" on a manual typewriter, so I suppose he wrote this work about branding wearing Kmart boat shoes.
I read it wearing a 1986 pulsar digital watch, the one with the black metal band, with a new faceplate, so no logo.
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Pattern Recognition by William Gibson (Mass Market Paperback - Feb. 1 2005)
CDN$ 8.99 CDN$ 8.54