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11th-Dec-2005 12:11 pm

*sighs* Well, in any case, I got the final book for my Science Fiction class finished this morning, five days early. Go me. Now, I need to work on making additions to the Specimen Days paper and making my website for Some Like It Hot. Early next week, I have the Sci-Fi final--and then I am done, done, DONE! ^_^

Gibson, William. Pattern Recognition. 2003. New York: Berkley, 2004.
Summary: Cayce (pronounced "Case") Pollard is a coolhunter who has been hired to track down the creator of "the footage," mysterious segments of video distributed from an unknown source on the Internet that has attracted a passionate following of fans, of which Cayce is one, by Bigend, a marketing guru who sees tremendous potential in the method of distribution. She eventually finds out that the creator is a brain-damaged young woman, that her twin has been distributing the footage, and that they are the nieces of a Russian mafioso.
Comments: As you may be able to guess from the summary of the novel, the getting there is way, waaaay more interesting than the final conclusion--that a woman who has been ruined by an anti-Soviet weapon used in a new application against her Mafia family and is endlessly caught in and reproducing the source of her injury. The novel is filled with Internet lingo and young-people speech and Japanophilia (even though he seems remarkably unable to use Japanese correctly), but the firm conviction in the power of free market enterprise, not to mention the preoccupation with "the Soviets," marks Gibson as a child of the Cold War. This novel will fit into a category of what will someday be known as post-9/11 literature--the world has gotten smaller and thus less unique and all things are colaborative efforts and damned if we're not personally threatened by all that; indeed, it even uses that date to locate the story smack in the present. Gibson, most famous for such science fiction works as Neuromancer, flatly states that this novel is NOT sci-fi, and in the book itself he says that the "now" changes so rapidly that we hardly have a present to stand on, let alone a future. I believe Pattern Recognition is both about trying to find meaning in an increasingly chaotic and complicated world (the postmodern frustration), and Gibson's own conviction that the future has already arrived and made the sorts of speculative novels that he wrote obsolete. (As an aside, I believe Peter Gilbert aka Parkaboy might have been a self-insert...and is it any surprise that Cayce ends up in bed with him, literally, by the end? *shakes head* )
Notes: trade paperback, 1st printing
Rating: 6/10 - A vaguely interesting read but not essential. It should NOT be read as a textbook, as I was reading it, because I don't think it is rich enough.
11th-Dec-2005 05:36 pm (UTC)
Out of interest, have you read any other Gibson novels? I particularly enjoyed Pattern Recognition when read as a statement by the author that he doesn't have to write sf anymore, since it's all possible in realism now. Cayce is Case and Marly Krushkova and maybe also Laney from Neuromancer and Count Zero and Idoru and All Tomorrow's Parties, her quest is that of the female lead in Idoru, Parkaboy is a variation on Idoru's Zona Rosa, Boone as Molly in a way, Bigend as Wintermute, Dorotea as 3Jane, etc, etc.
11th-Dec-2005 05:40 pm (UTC)
No...and after this one failed to impress me (especially in the way my instructor hoped that it would), I'm not particularly eager to read more. Seems that he likes the name "Case" and likes, as many authors do, to use the same character types over and over and over again. (We dicussed this briefly in class.) I found his Japanophilia and several of his assertions about the way Japan is slightly different from the West to be both offensive and incorrect.

BTW, I noticed the list of his other titles, and--Idoru. Is this some attempt to Japanese the word "idol"?
11th-Dec-2005 05:53 pm (UTC)
What I like most about Gibson is the mood and language of his stories - shattered-mirror prose, in a way, and not bad at evoking emotions without using purple prose. He's also a good starting point for an explanation of how the whole tech-and-anime Japanophilia started and developed in Western geek culture, since he's been with it from the word go. Also, Case/Cayce are the only two examples of the name, which is why I think Pattern Recognition is an amalgam of all his sf stories.

In Idoru, he's excused - this is the way Japanese people pronounce the word, and I've seen it used this way by Westerners before the book was published. The plot there is of a rock singer who wants to "marry" a Japanese artificial (computer-constructed) idol singer, and as in all Gibson books except Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition, there are two narrators - the rock singer's fan who goes to Japan to find out about this, and a research specialist with arcane Cayce-like instincts who's hired in order to find out how the "marriage" may come to pass.
11th-Dec-2005 06:09 pm (UTC)
In Idoru, he's excused - this is the way Japanese people pronounce the word, and I've seen it used this way by Westerners before the book was published.

Err...no, it's not. The correct romanization of a katakana rendering of the word "idol" would be "aidoru" NOT "idoru." "Idoru" isn't even a word in Japanese, period! Even worse than his assertion in Pattern Recognition that the Japanese answer the phone with "mushi mushi." (They answer the phone with "moshi moshi." "Mushi mushi" means hot and humid. :P )

This misuse of Japanese strikes me as symptomatic of a larger problem--that his view of Japan is based upon his own fantasy, not reality. What irritates me is that people don't realize that and take his word about things as gospel truth. I don't like it when I see it books, and I don't like it when I see it in people I know, either. Gibson needs a dose of reality; at least even he's beginning to realize it!
11th-Dec-2005 06:17 pm (UTC)
I think he doesn't use official romanization as much as "what the average American would pronounce it as", at least with Idoru, since most people who don't know the rules would pronounce it "Eydoru". Mushi mushi, I'm hoping was a brainfart ;)
11th-Dec-2005 06:22 pm (UTC)
When I saw the title "Idoru," I couldn't help thinking of all the ways in which Americans misuse and miswrite Chinese characters for aesthetic purposes. I suppose it's possible that he was doing a tit-for-tat, since Asians love misusing English, but the Japanese already think Americans are idiots for not being able to get their language right. If I were Gibson, I would have chosen to be scrupulously correct and avoid the inevitable derision from people like me who aren't fans but happen to speak Japanese--after all, the novel is set in Japan proper, right?

Mushi mushi, I'm hoping was a brainfart ;)

It's used, incorrectly, more than once. >_< I cringed every time I saw it. I mean, even if he can't get it right, doesn't he have, well you know, EDITORS to catch this sort of stuff!?
1st-Jan-2006 04:03 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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