G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 356 pp.
I am always excited to see a new release from William Gibson. It’s no exaggeration to say that the man shaped the face of science fiction in the 1980s. Could there have been a Matrix without Neuromancer? Possibly not. Sadly, Gibson’s latest, Pattern Recognition, won’t be spawning any trends or blazing new paths in the industry. Comparing an author’s latest to his best known works is never a fair practice, but Gibson still has a trick or two up his sleeve and manages to conjure up some interesting ideas.
Pattern Recognition follows American design consultant Cayce Pollard on a global quest to track down the creator of mysterious video clips that are being anonymously posted to the internet. Although not the most interesting character in Gibson’s library, Pollard is possibly the most approachable. She is intelligent and creative, rational and quirky. And Gibson uses her perfectly as a voice for a marketed society that is in the process of steadily homogenizing itself. That is not to say that he uses the story as a pulpit for his opinions; rather, he blends a good mix of adventure and humor in to get a few simple points across. Unfortunately, the story lacks a strong finish. All of Pollard’s character issues are well resolved by the end, but the climax of the plot comes when she is unconscious, which leaves the reader feeling slightly cheated—as if your favorite team had won its big game in the middle of a commercial break.