Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
Zero history - three stars
on 11 November 2010
Only 3 stars for this I'm afraid. I'm a massive fan of Gibson's (ground-breaking) SF work, but I haven't much liked the Blue Ant novels (Pattern Recognition and Spook County) and this is the weakest of the trilogy. Set in contemporary London it follows Hollis Henry and Milgrim (both of whom appear in Spook County, but this book can be read standalone) as they follow the trail of iconic new fashion at the behest of the enigmatic Hubertus Bigend.
I thought the English stuff was fairly well done in terms of location and dialect, but the plot didn't really engage me and I found it somewhat confusing at times. There is something (big) that Bigend really wants, but it's hidden away and almost inconsequential.
Having said that there is some excellent writing: "[The Neo phone]....was also prone to something Sleight called "kernel panic" which caused it to freeze and need to be restarted, a condition Milgrim himself had been instantly inclined to identify with."; "Milgrim....was caught in some frustrating loop of semi-sleep, slow and circular, in which exhaustion swung him slowly out, toward where sleep should surely have been, then overshot the mark somehow..."; And my favourite: "These were, she gathered, private internets, unlicensed and unpoliced, and Garreth had once remarked that, as with dark matter and the universe, the darknets were probably the bulk of the thing, were there any way to accurately measure them."
And there are good ideas - not so much the fashion stuff for me, but the "Order Flow" is clever and the idea of the hideous T-shirt having an impact on surveillance is wonderful - although both of these ideas are credited to others in the acknowledgements.
Ultimately the book just didn't engage me and I wondered if Gibson was trying to say something about society by deliberately writing in this almost dreamlike manner - if so it went over my head.
I'll probably still buy every novel he writes still, but a fairly disappointing end to a so-so trilogy. Maybe he'll return to SF - I do hope so.