"Zero History" is more than a satisfying conclusion to the "Hubertus Bigend" trilogy which started with 2003's "Pattern Recognition", as William Gibson's grand literary statement announcing that he and his fiction had finally arrived in the present, a science fictional present, whose existence was predicted by William Gibson in some of his prior work, most notably in some of the short stories comprising his seminal collection "Burning Chrome" and the "Virtual Light" trilogy which concluded on a most triumphant note with his novel "All Tomorrow's Parties". His latest novel really works as a stand-alone technical thriller on its own, though those familiar with the prior novels in this trilogy will certainly obtain the most satisfaction. And yet, those unfamiliar with Gibson's fiction will find ample pleasure reading this fast-paced thriller involving a search for an unknown fashion designer that will lead its protagonists into uncertain, quite darker, directions. "Zero History" should be viewed by potential readers as the best work of fiction he has crafted in years, and one which has been among the most exciting, most satisfying, reading experiences I have had in some time. I view it as the best concluding volume ever written by Gibson for his trilogies.
"Zero History" reunites us with former rock singer and marketing guru Hollis Henry with the ever mysterious Hubertus Bigend and his Blue Ant firm from "Spook Country", financially down on her luck after the 2008 stock market crash, who finds her only hope of financial salvation via Bigend's mission in seeking out an unknown Chicago-based fashion designer. Back from "Spook Country" too is Milgrim, Bigend's latest reclaimation project, who is transformed into a more likable, more sympathetic, character in "Zero History", shadowed by a United States federal special agent, while coping with the lingering psychological after effects of a draconian Swiss drug rehabilitation.
Gibson has always had an uncanny eye for detail, often rendered in his unique, but still, lyrical prose, that has been a defining hallmark of his fiction, ever since he introduced us to the terms "Cyberspace" and "The Sprawl" in his classic "Cyberspace Trilogy" novels and short stories. Here he truly excels in vividly rendering our technological, quite futuristic, present replete with Apple laptops and IPhones. A present instantly recognizable to those who've worked in internet marketing and fashion, and for the veritable hordes who view the Internet as a virtual extension of their daily lives; in plain English, that means all of us, his current and potential literary audience.
"Zero History" definitely ranks high on my list of the best novels published this year. It is a compelling work of fiction that shouldn't be missed, especially by those unfamiliar with Gibson's work. Its publication merely reaffirms the critical and popular acclaim he's received around the world as one of the most exciting, most intriguing, writers working in the English prose. With "Zero History" Gibson has given us a most vivid reminder that we are living in a high tech internet-dominated present nearly as remarkable and as strange as his classic cyberpunk science fiction.
William Gibson has long gone into the hinterland of the beautifully absurd. And his imagery is absolutely mesmerizing, it stays with you long after the last traces of the story evaporate.
If the Sprawl Trilogy changed the way we view the future and the Bridge Trilogy brought that future dystopia closer to home, the latest Bigend Trilogy interweaves that future into our everyday life. You know THAT future? Well it is now. And exactly because of this, after finishing it, memories of the book seem to pop up everywhere, when least expected.
The story ties loosely with the previous two books of the Trilogy (PATTERN RECOGNITION and SPOOK COUNTRY) and it is surprising to find out just how ruthless the garment business really is. However, the story is the vehicle, not the destination.
Gibson seems determined to deconstruct a persistent and omnipresent pop-culture that glorifies the trivial, attempts to turn our daily grind into a series of tolerable epic moments and reproduces the propaganda that steers public opinion towards the aims of the interconnected elite. And this he achieves with dense poetic wordscapes, his pattern brand-name fetishism and chains of ironic yet insightful observations.
on December 11, 2014
Excellent characterizations as always. I love Gibson's characters and how he makes you fall in love with them. Milgrim & Fiona are a perfect juxtaposition & fit together so well. Hollis & Garreth. Heidi & Ajay. Bigend himself, too blue and full of himself. Too many teeth & knowing too much. Bobby Chombo smoking all the data into place.
Gibson turns a phrase like few authors I know. He makes you see the world through his lens and it is so amazing you almost feel like it's real. Could Bigend really know that much of the future? What could you do with that kind of power? Perhaps we'll see.
on November 15, 2010
I'm a huge fan of Gibson; having read all of his books - most of them multiple times. I would definitely say he's one of my top favorite authors. Zero History is worth reading just to finish off the story that was started in Spook Country and Pattern Recognition but I'm glad I didn't shell out for the hardcover at full price (I borrowed it from the library). I love the Milgrim character and there were a few interesting concepts that I enjoyed (like the Festo air penguins - which actually exist) but overall I found this novel to be a huge build-up for a not-so-great ending. I can't help but feel like the story goes in one direction for a long time but then takes a hard right to continue on in a totally different one. To me, it seems like there are a lot of loose ends that just didn't get tied up. I'll be re-reading "Spook" and "Pattern" for sure...but not this one.