"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Friday, May 20, 2005

Pattern Recognition

Title: Pattern Recognition
Author: William Gibson

William Gibson has been one of my favorite authors since I first read and was enthralled by Neuromancer. Maybe I've gotten jaded or perhaps things get past me now that didn't used to, but this book left me feeling unaffected, something I never thought I'd say about a Gibson novel.

Cayce Pollard, in this contemporary tale, set soon after 9/11, can predict market success of products and logos, of public relations campaigns for consumer goods. The nature of this skill is nebulous at best. At the heart of the story is some footage, aka video, that appears piece by piece on the internet. Cayce is tasked to find the "maker" of the footage. If there's a slimmer premise for a novel, I can't think of it.

The book sparkles with Gibson's clever prose, but this time, it feels like name dropping due to all the product names bandied about. And for 80 or so pages, nothing seems to happen. There is more packed into the last 50 pages of the 356 page trade paperback than the rest of the book together, or so it seemed. And I was left thinking, so what? The premise, the action, all seemed quaint, out of place with how the world is evolving. To set his story so close to now, Gibson pretty much guaranteed that this bookhad a short life for freshness. It's not quite stale now, but it certainly felt old.

Or maybe it's just me, missing something obvious. I doubt it.