- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (Feb. 1 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0425198685
- ISBN-13: 978-0425198681
- Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 2.6 x 17.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 159 g
- Average Customer Review: 177 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #108,471 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Pattern Recognition Mass Market Paperback – Feb 1 2005
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With Pattern Recognition, William Gibson, the man who introduced cyberpunk to the world, gives us his first novel set in the present. But as Gibson's imagination makes clear, our corporation-dominated, technologically advanced reality doesn't need much tweaking to take on the aura of science fiction.
If there's a fantastical element to this, the author's eighth book, it's in protagonist Cayce Pollard's special talent. Here, Gibson takes some of No Logo author Naomi Klein's ideas about branding to a logical extreme: Pollard has an instinctual, often violently intense reaction to logos, a condition that makes her valuable to advertising agencies looking for the most effective way to brand a product. This talent, however, makes a trip to a department store potentially lethal, as when she visits a London shopping emporium and is inundated by "a mountainside of Tommy [Hilfiger] coming down in her head." "Some people ingest a single peanut and their head swells like a basketball," writes Gibson. "When it happens to Cayce, it's her psyche.... When it starts, it's pure reaction, like biting down hard on a piece of foil." Pollard is also a "coolhunter" of the first order, which means she can sniff out a trend before it's even begun to be commodified. She's so good, in fact, that "she's met the very Mexican who first wore his baseball cap backwards."
With such sensitivity to our over-branded world, it's completely natural that our heroine would become fascinated by Internet footage of a film in which characters, setting, and time are completely generic--unbranded, unfixed, free. But Pollard isn't the only one obsessed by "the footage," as it's referred to, and this is where Gibson's masterful storytelling comes to the fore. Who will be the first to solve the mystery of the film's origin? Who else is trying, and for what potentially nefarious purpose? As usual the author proves adept at weaving a suspenseful narrative out of humdrum elements, such as e-mail exchanges. If there's a caveat, it's that, as with literary forefather Philip K. Dick, the Vancouver-based author's prose veers wildly from the poetic to the clunky. And his supporting characters often amount to nothing more than a combination of an unusual name and shadowy motive. But the continual barrage of ideas, and the way Gibson arranges them for maximum impact, make for a gripping and insightful glimpse into our hyperdriven consumer culture. --Shawn Conner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Gibson, known as the "patron saint of cyberpunk lit," has made his reputation with futuristic tales. Though his new novel is set in the present, baroque descriptions of everyday articles and menacing anthropomorphic treatment of the Internet and sister technology give it a sci-fi feel. Cayce Pollard, a market researcher with razor-sharp intuition, makes big bucks by evaluating potential products and advertising campaigns. In London, she stays in the trendy digs of documentary filmmaker friend Damien (away on assignment), whom she e-mails frequently. When Cayce brusquely rejects the new logo of advertising mogul Hubertus Bigend, she earns his respect and a big check but makes an enemy of his graphic designer, vindictive Dorotea Benedetti. Hubertus later hires Cayce to ferret out the origin of a series of sensual film clips appearing guerrilla style on computers all over the world and attracting a growing cult following. Cayce treats this as a standard job until somebody breaks into Damien's flat and hacks into her computer. Suddenly every casual encounter carries undertones of danger. Her investigative trail takes her to Tokyo and Russia and through a rogue's gallery of iconoclastic Web-heads. Casting a further shadow is the memory of her father, Win, a security expert (probably CIA) missing and presumed dead in the World Trade Center disaster of exactly a year earlier. For complicated reasons even she doesn't understand, she connects her current dilemma with her father's tragedy and follows the trail with the fervor of a personal vendetta. Gibson's brisk, kinetic style and incisive observations should keep the reader entertained even when Cayce's quest begins to lose urgency. Gibson's best book since Mona Lisa Overdrive should satisfy his hardcore fans while winning plenty of new ones.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Pattern Recognition"'s themes are thought-provoking but sometimes almost covert. Cayce thinks a lot about pattern recognition and apophenia, "the spontaneous perception of connection and meaningfulness in unrelated things". These two concepts create a sort of pattern recognition/pattern hallucination dichotomy that underlies the story. Subtle and not-so-subtle comments on the nature of art are also woven throughout. Both of these topics are interesting food for thought, presented in an interesting, sometimes insidious, context. They are also frustrating in that the author's own opinions of art and patterns are indiscernible. Gibson seems only to say that these things exist. But do they exist only because we see them? I'm not sure if "Pattern Recognition" is asking that question or if Gibson intended to be more clear.
"Pattern Recognition" is the first novel I've read that incorporates e-mail and internet forums into the story. I was surprised at how effective Gibson is in making e-mail seem vital. Anything that exists only on a computer monitor would seem to be best avoided if engaging narrative is the goal. But Gibson manages to make us want to see what's inside Cayce's e-mail as much as she does. Cayce's online relationships have that real-but-je-ne-sais-quoi quality that such relationships really do, and they're as much a part of her life and investigation as those whom she knows corporeally. I was intrigued by the internet's prominent role in a contemporary, not sci-fi, novel and impressed that it wasn't tedious. Fluid, sometimes poetic prose and oddly articulated, but undeniably provocative, themes make "Pattern Recognition" a sort of cerebral page-turner. 4 1/2 stars.
Cayce Pollard, her first name Cayce, what a great name! I picture her as a thin, stylish young woman with attitude. You know, you understand just by looking at her that she is not someone to jerk around- she jerks YOU around. She has charisma, intelligence that oozes from her pores. She is a modern young woman who understands the culture of her times.
Cayce lives in New York City. She is an unusally intuitive market research consultant. She can tell by looking at the first design of an ad whether it will sell, whether the public will buy it. On a trip to London, she is shown a design for a product, and after looking at it for one minute, she feels in the pit of her stomach a wave, the answer is "No". The designer's agent puts the picture back in her portfolio, no questions asked- they must go back to the drawing board. Can you imgaine having this kind of control in the world of marketing?
Neither can Dorotea, a protoge of Hubertus Bigend, the marketing guru to whom Cayce just gave the "NO" word. Thus begins the mystery. Cayce is in London working as a consultant and has intrigued Bigend. He wants to hire her to work on a secret assignment to investigate several snippets of a face seen on the Internet. This face has become an obession with a subculture all over the world. Groups on the internet have sprung up trying to guess what this "face" means. The face appears randomly and sometimes with a new piece of the face added. Mr Bigend wants to know who is behind this "face". With this lind of information he could embed in his designs a brand loyalty. He could organize group behavior around cultual objects and ideas.
Cayce accepts this job because she has already become intrigued with this face. She is a member of a chat room on the internet FFF- designed just to discuss the face. She has become an integral member of the chat group- her intelligence and wit have attracted several chat room members, and they all look to her for guidance. This new job with unlimited funds at her disposal takes Cayce to Tokyo and Russia. She becomes enmeshed with a very wealthy Russian family and adventures abound.
In the mdist of these adventures, Cayce is also seaching for her father. Will Pollard an ex-security chief and probable ex-CIA agent has mysteriously disappeared on 9.11.01. He and Cayce were very close he has disclosed his secret agent mind to his daughter. Is there some relationship between her father and the new secret assignment she has taken?
I loved this book. I want to read more about Cayce Pollard. I want to know her life. I want to understand if her new relationship continues- does she return to Russia? What does she do with the enormous amount of money given to her? What happens to Cayce Pollard? prisrob
To me, Gibson is like a rock musician who's left his blues roots and has taken to dabbling in classical music. While it may be rewarding for him, and even some of his dedicated fans, others are a little bewildered by his change, including me. Gibson's peer, Bruce Sterling, has been able to do his dabbling on the side, but still release every now and then a work that recalls his original stuff, albeit in a more mature style. I'm of the opinion that Gibson, instead, has thrown out the mirrorshades with the virtual world, leaving something basic, just not as appealing. Your mileage may vary, and I've not written Gibson off yet. At least, compared to some musicians and authors, he is trying to still challenge himself.
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