Thursday, December 14, 2006

I think about this loveless fascination

I am in a reading happy place. Almost all of my recent books have been winners, and William Gibson's Pattern Recognition is no exception. It's typical Gibson, meaning he provides razor particular descriptions of the world in which his characters live. His descriptions heavily on the things that help define a person, whether it is what they wear or what they seek. While this can be superficial, Gibson's focus on design makes it interesting.

Many of Gibson's favorite themes return. We have the globalized creative class that travels the world using airplanes like subways. We have the emerging influence of some non-Western Other, in this case Russia. His characters are often autonomous with few human connections. That is certainly the case in this book. The characters are bound by intense obsessions, whether shared or simply overlapping. The MacGuffin of the film is an obscure film called the footage, which people the world over are watching scene by scene over the Internet. Our heroine, a cool hunter herself obsessed with the authenticity and timelessness of the film, is recruited by a billionaire to find the film's creator.

The hunt itself is interesting, but to be honest I most enjoyed this peculiar person, who is allergic to marketing and the strange obsessives she encounters on her quest. This is less a scifi novel as it is a globalization novel. Gibson was always one of the more pessimistic scifi writers and that pessimism seems appropriate in this context.

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