Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Review: "Pattern Recognition" by William Gibson

While I had to read this for Comparative Literature, Science Fiction, I'm not sure I could totally classify this as sci-fi. While it started out on a wacky, far-out idea, the story, leading all the way to the eventual conclusion, simply came across as, well, regular fiction/mystery.
It certainly didn't adhere to any of my expectations. The main character is Cayce Pollard, and she identifies herself as a "coolhunter" - she has almost a psychic sense of which logos, brands, or advertisements will do well on the market. While this offers her an interesting job opportunity, its downside is that her sensitivity renders her painfully allergic to the worse logos and brands - for instance, she'll have an allergic reaction when confronted with Tommy Hilfiger or the Michelin Man.
While it's intriguing that she can't wear brand-name clothing (or has to have the labels professionally removed), and such, it doesn't entirely have a great deal to do with the plot itself. There aren't any other "coolhunters" with this ability, at least any that Cayce has heard of - she's a bit of an anomaly.
The plot itself is that Cayce is hired by an advertising company called Blue Ant, initially to offer a thumbs-up or -down on a new logo they're considering, using her unique abilities. It quickly morphs into an assignment to find the creator of the mysterious "footage" - bizarre, surreal, and non-sequential clips of film that have appeared on the net to become the obsession of internet addicts everywhere. No one knows who filmed this, where they were filmed, in what time period, or how, but the people at Blue Ant believe that the attention and press they've been getting around the world would make for killer advertising, so, rather mysteriously, they hire Cayce (who is also a "footagehead" aka someone who is very interested in the footage and posts regularly on messageboards about it) to find out who's making it.
And the story goes on from there - it was actually rather rote. Not too much action, a lot of talking, describing politics both corporate and international, a lot of it very difficult to keep straight. Cayce spends most of the book either reeling from jet lag (from jetting from London to Tokyo to Moscow) or sleeping off said jet lag. Every other page, the main protagonist has to take a break because she's so exhausted. Enough, already!
Plus, the ending was anti-climactic, and didn't live up to the hype that the book feverishly generated. I dunno, maybe when I try reading "Neuromancer" I might have a better experience.

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