Pattern Recognition

William Gibson
Pattern Recognition Cover

pattern recognition



All this not to say Gibson wrote an irrelevant novel, on the contrary, Gibson wrote a novel that is very much of these times, dealing with topics - branding, globalization, originality, monoculture - that define big parts of our contemporary lives. It then doesn't surprise that the Wikipedia page on Pattern Recognition is quite long, and even has quotes from postmodern theorist Frederic Jameson on the novel. Yes: Gibson is that kind of powerhouse, the kind that attracts the attention of a powerhouse like Jameson.

Mind you: all that doesn't make for a particular deep novel - Gibson keeps it snappy and breezy, and he constructs a fairly standard thriller around the themes. He namedrops the term simulacra, but in the end there's nothing new. Nevertheless, Gibson is able to convey the gradual take-over of sameness in the Western world, through the lens of Cayce Pollard, the story's protagonist - a young woman with an almost supernatural feeling for cooperate symbols. She finds herself in the world where everything is "reduced, by the spectral hands of marketing, to price-point variations on the same thing." There's melancholy in Pattern Recognition, this particular Gibson not a champion of the New, but mournful for the loss of worlds that once were; fleeing to Tokyo and Moscow to give us a dose of something that still is different.


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