By William Gibson
First Published: 2003
US Jacket Design: Archie Ferguson
Review © 2009 by Stephen Roof
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Pattern Recognition is the only novel I’ve read from William Gibson that really isn’t science fiction. This is a high tech thriller type novel which is distantly related to Gibson’s groundbreaking cyberpunk novels in that the internet plays a large role.
Pattern Recognition is told from the view of Cayce Pollard, a young advertising consultant who has built a reputation as a “coolhunter” someone who knows “cool” when she sees it and can recognize new trends before others. Cayce has a few hang-ups. Her main issue is a side effect of her ultra sensitivity to logos and advertising; some symbols create havoc in her psyche to the point of causing physical nausea.
Away from work, Cayce has become obsessed with an internet mystery, the “footage”, which is a series of film clips that have been released at long intervals over the internet. No one knows who is responsible for the “footage” or what it represents. When a very rich man offers Cayce virtually infinite resources to solve the mysteries of the “footage”, she can’t turn him down. Soon, with the help of some of her internet friends, she’s tracking leads down around the world and finding that the search is leading her into more danger than she ever imagined.I really liked the first two thirds of Pattern Recognition but was a bit disappointed with the last section. Don’t worry; the many mysteries are not left unresolved. In fact, they are resolved a bit too easily and, for the most part, the final discoveries are a let down relative to the journey. However, the writing in general is well done and I’ve always liked Gibson’s style. He has well developed, interesting characters, nice descriptive language, and explores interesting ideas and themes. Pattern Recognition is worth reading, especially if you’ve enjoyed Gibson’s earlier works.