Pattern Recognition and Spook Country

In Uncategorized on 2007-12-08 by Kyle Maxwell

I recently re-read Pattern Recognition by William Gibson, and then its sequel Spook Country. The first is an outstanding foray into modern life on the Net, complete with lots of discussion of 21st-century marketing, 9/11, and Internet forums. The protagonist, Cayce, is a fairly sympathetic character but most of the rest have layers of complexity that hint at all sorts of other doings that would be interesting. Although at this point it’s a few years old, it’s still well worth reading.

The sequel takes some of those other doings and examines them. Unfortunately, it follows a “zipper story” structure of separately following three different people (or groups of people) until they get to the big finale where they all come together in an odd way. It was quite disappointing, as the Clancy-like structure made it difficult to really get into the heads of any of the characters, and the closest thing the novel has to a protagonist never really engages the audience. The climax of the book is the most in-depth and developed pun I’ve ever run across in my life, but to say more would be to ruin the best thing about it.

Neither book is classically SF, as it’s focused more on examining technological changes already occurring. Gibson seems to be pointing out that we’re already in the “future” about which so much has been written, and while there’s a lot of very up-to-date culture and tech there, all of it is examined with the eye of someone who wants to perceive it in context, rather than “gee-whiz-cool!”



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