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Book details of 'Pattern Recognition'

Cover of Pattern Recognition
TitlePattern Recognition
Author(s)William Gibson
PublishedFebruary 2003
PublisherPutnam Pub Group
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Score: score: 5.0 *****  Vote for this book

The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'Pattern Recognition':

Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
This novel takes place in the corporate present, rather than the dystopian cyberpunk future of Gibson's early works (although he was bringing us closer even with "Virtual Light", cf. BKVRTLIT.RVW). Gibson's "edge" is possibly smoothing, although his writing skill and the humanity that have always marked his work are intact. Central elements in this work are the marketing and building of "brand." The internationalization of brands, the implications for individualization in the face of that pressure, and our discomfort when presented with different brands are all examined in interesting ways in the character of a woman who researches and measures the potential popularity of trademark material, but who is also allergic to certain brands. (There are some really interesting points about social engineering, of various types.) In terms of this series, Gibson has never made real technology central to his books, and this one is no exception. However, he does involve steganography, digital watermarking, and the tracing of electronic messages and files in the plot. While I enjoyed the book (a lot), I found it strangely weak in regard to the actual use of technology in the plot. Gibson has not made any secret of the fact that he doesn't have a technical background, but there are numerous technologies that could have been used and explored in regard to the plot as it exists, so it seems oddly unfinished. Still, while Gibson hasn't devoted a lot of detail to the technologies involved, neither has he made any of the technical howlers that are so annoying in other, similar, works. So, it only barely makes it into the series, but I recommend it as a good read, and some great insight into the human condition. copyright Robert M. Slade, 2006

Reviewer Rivka wrote:
This is an unusually vivid and gripping, as well as entertaining read. The characters come alive. Much of it reminds me of Whoopi Goldberg's darker and weirder movies. The writing is magnificent!

Reviewer wrote:
The first of William Gibson's usually futuristic novels to be set in the present, Pattern Recognition is a masterful snapshot of modern consumer culture and hipster esoterica. Set in London, Tokyo, and Moscow, Pattern Recognition takes the reader on a tour of a global village inhabited by power-hungry marketeers, industrial saboteurs, high-end hackers, Russian mob bosses, Internet fan-boys, techno archeologists, washed-out spies, cultural documentarians, and our heroine Cayce Pollard--a soothsaying "cool hunter" with an allergy to brand names. Pollard is among a cult-like group of Internet obsessives that strives to find meaning and patterns within a mysterious collection of video moments, merely called "the footage," let loose onto the Internet by an unknown source. Her hobby and work collide when a megalomaniac client hires her to track down whoever is behind the footage. Cayce's quest will take her in and out of harm's way in a high-stakes game that ultimately coincides with her desire to reconcile her father’s disappearance during the September 11 attacks in New York. Although he forgoes his usual future-think tactics, this is very much a William Gibson novel, more so for fans who realize that Gibson's brilliance lies not in constructing new futures but in using astute observations of present-day cultural flotsam to create those futures. With Pattern Recognition, Gibson skips the extrapolation and focuses his acumen on our confusing contemporary world, using the precocious Pollard to personify and humanize the uncertain anxiety, optimistic hope, and downright fear many feel when looking to the future. The novel is filled with Gibson's lyric descriptions and astute observations of modern life, making it worth the read for both cool hunters and their prey.

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Book description:

Cayce Pollard is an expensive, spookily intuitive market-research consultant. In London on a job, she is offered a secret assignment: to investigate some intriguing snippets of video that have been appearing on the Internet. An entire subculture of people is obsessed with these bits of footage, and anybody who can create that kind of brand loyalty would be a gold mine for Cayce's client. But when her borrowed apartment is burgled and her computer hacked, she realizes there's more to this project than she had expected. Still, Cayce is her father's daughter, and the danger makes her stubborn. Win Pollard, ex-security expert, probably ex-CIA, took a taxi in the direction of the World Trade Center on September 11 one year ago, and is presumed dead. Win taught Cayce a bit about the way agents work. She is still numb at his loss, and, as much for him as for any other reason, she refuses to give up this newly weird job, which will take her to Tokyo and on to Russia. With help and betrayal from equally unlikely quarters, Cayce will follow the trail of the mysterious film to its source, and in the process will learn something about her father's life and death.

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