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Pattern Recognition Paperback – 24 Jun 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (24 Jun. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140266143
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140266146
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 693,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In Pattern Recognition, William Gibson changes focus from the not-too-distant future of his slick, influential SF novels to a netwise vision of strangeness just hours or minutes from the present.

Talented, vulnerable heroine Cayce Pollard is an adept "coolhunter" with an intuitive gift for telling whether any image or logo will be a commercial flop. The downside is her tortured sensitivity--like an allergic reaction--to logo overexposure. She can just about bear to fly BA, but not cross-promoted Virgin...

When she's consulted by top ad agency Blue Ant and gives the thumbs-down to their designer's latest concept, the edgy urban paranoia begins. A porn-site URL that she never accessed appears in her browser history, and the phone's redial button goes somewhere it shouldn't. The same faces appear around her as she flits between continents. Small world. Worryingly small.

As new vistas open in viral marketing and stealth publicity, the big admen are all too interested in Cayce's private hobby: mystery fragments of haunting movie footage, released anonymously on the Web. This unknown "garage Kubrick" auteur has spawned a fascinated, obsessive online cult. Is this a brilliant marketing operation for a still-unknown product, or something with different, dark and painful roots?

Cayce's personal quest, or flight, converges on the source of the Footage, helped and threatened by memorably offbeat characters. In Britain, these include a pettily sadistic woman who seems to know Cayce's most carefully concealed phobias, and an embittered collector of obsolete mechanical calculators made in Liechtenstein. Tokyo: a lovesick Japanese geek whose "otaku" friends find a hidden digital signature in the Footage. Moscow: a strange girl whose uncle is a fabulously wealthy--and dangerously protected--Russian mafioso...

Here's Cayce in a Japanese hotel, showing that wittily lyrical Gibson view of the world and his deft use of brand names:

She uses the remote as demonstrated, drapes drawing quietly aside to reveal a remarkably virtual-looking skyline, a floating jumble of electric Lego, studded with odd shapes you wouldn't see elsewhere, as if you'd need special Tokyo add-ons to build this at home.

This world of glittering surfaces and pulsating data connections is mined with surprises, betrayals, flurries of violence and unexpected allies. This is a very 21st century novel: compulsive reading, and vintage Gibson. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"'More insight, wit and sheer style than any of his contemporaries' Charles Shaar Murray, Independent"

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book has received some mediocre reviews on Amazon, and in my opinion those reviews are undeserved but perhaps understandable. This is certainly one of Gibson's best books, certainly of his recent books. It's not a science-fiction book at all, really, as it's set in the present day (2002) and features nothing sciency beyond the commonplace apart from steganography and advanced cryptography.
Is it "cyber-punk"? I'd say so, and in fact this is where I think this book's most amazing skill lies. It's a tale of modern day Britain, Russia and Japan, painting those countries with the eye of a modern American in such a subtle and beautiful way. The protaganist thinks of the UK as the "mirror world", since things are so similar to the US, but also so different, and this feels like the starting point for a clever technique that never becomes too clever for its own good: the mirror-world is a cyber-punk world, and yet it's our present-day reality, just being shown through an unusual and thoughtful lens.
I hope this is not too waffly a way of saying that this is a great book, but that people who loved Neuromancer for its unreality might find it a little hard to enjoy.
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By A Customer on 11 Mar. 2003
Format: Hardcover
'Pattern Recognition' is the latest fiction from William Gibson. the writer who became infamous after the publication of his epoch-making novel 'Neuromancer'. But while 'Pattern Recognition' is clearly the work of the same, earlier, revolutionary voice (twenty years have passed), it is a more mature, calmer novel, and is perhaps a better work of literature as a result.
The plot, put briefly, surrounds the search by Cayce (whose name is a pleasing nod towards the protagonist of 'Neuromancer') and others to discover the meaning behind, and makers of, a series of enigmatic, often abstract video clips. The clips are posted on the internet, left to be found by those who follow the unfolding series, but they are never traceable. While on unrelated business in London, Cayce finds herself involved in a venture to discover the source, turning her private past-time of discussing the video clips online into a project funded financially by a British marketing executive who walks around in a big, Texan cowboy hat (which he always wears incorrectly). To reveal more would be to spoil the novel, but it is enough to say that around this premise Gibson creates a highly intelligent, highly successful novel, part thriller, part exploration of contemporary technology culture, and much more besides.
'Pattern Recognition' is a masterpiece, and can be called such for a whole host of reasons. Cayce, the dominant character, is brought vividly to life, Gibson's super-sharp prose showing us Cayce's world as she sees it, and in doing so creating a reality that seems more real than real. We see things more crisply. The very best writers have the ability to grab the reader with their unique angle and focus on the world, and pull them completely between the lines. We become consumed by the words.
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Format: Paperback
This is at the end of a long road for William Gibson. Fans of the neuromancer et al. should be shocked: he can write now. The prose in this book is lovely. The flavour of what he does with that language is very close to some of the early cyberpunk concerns, but set in the present day (more or less). It's altogether a much subtler, more mature work, in a world where cyberspace exists, not as an idealized 3D medium but as a murky but fascinating medium none the less. Similarly he doesn't imagine edge cities of the future, but instead references those which already exist. It's about art and fashion and cyberspace and advertising, and it's not to be missed if the future of our culture fascinates you as it does me.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Yeah I thought it was OK. Perhaps I would have liked it more if it had been more carefully edited - an intrusive apostrophe on THE FIRST PAGE is exactly the kind of thing guaranteed to put a grammar pedant like me in a bad mood.

The idea that the protagonist has a negative physical reaction to certain branding was an interesting one - although we are told near the end that this reaction has subsided, without any explanation being given.

There seemed to be further strands that were opened without being fully developed - but it could just be that I got too bored to concentrate. Win on September the 11th? Dorotea's character? The 'Russian dig'?

I read Neuromancer back in the pre-Matrix days and loved it. I won't write off William Gibson just on the basis of this book - but I would suggest that William Gibson 'virgins' could choose much better than this one as a starter.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Since I started listing them back in my rather autistic teens I have now read just over four thousand books, and this could very probably my favourite of them all.

There are other contenders for that title, of course: John Buchan's 'John Macnab', for its beautifully written amalgam of a rattling good adventure with its passionate evocation of an Elysian age largely of his own imagining; J. I. M. Stewart's superlative 'Young Pattullo' with its glorious portrayal of an Oxford that is simultaneously so reminiscent of, yet remote from, my own Oxford experience; and David Mitchell's 'Cloud Atlas' with its intricately concentric structure and mind-blowing melding of plotlines across ages.

There is also, of course, Anthony Powell's 'Dance to the Music of Time'. I tend to think of my life as falling into two distinct phases: that dull sepia-tone stretch of tedium and woe before I met my wife and the glorious 64 bit kaleidoscopic years that followed. I sometimes wonder, however, whether reading 'A Dance to the Music of Time' was a similarly significant watershed moment (well, scarcely a moment as there are twelve volumes). Still, as it occurs to me that Catherine might read this I had better scratch that last thought. Phew, that was close but I think I got away with it.

Anyway, I am rambling. William Gibson is probably best known for his cyberpunks novels, and in particular for 'Neuromancer' which really launched the genre. His cyberpunk works are set in a technology-ridden, post-apocalyptic near future with anarchy threatening all around. 'Pattern Recognition' is very different. Written in 2003 it is set in an unspecified but very close future in a world immediately recognisable to us.
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