Pattern Recognition

Pattern Recognition

by William Gibson

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Overview

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Pattern Recognition is William Gibson’s best book since he rewrote all the rules in Neuromancer.”—Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods

“One of the first authentic and vital novels of the 21st century.”—The Washington Post Book World

The accolades and acclaim are endless for William Gibson's coast-to-coast bestseller. Set in the post-9/11 present, Pattern Recognition is the story of one woman's never-ending search for the now...

Cayce Pollard is a new kind of prophet—a world-renowned “coolhunter” who predicts the hottest trends. While in London to evaluate the redesign of a famous corporate logo, she’s offered a different assignment: find the creator of the obscure, enigmatic video clips being uploaded to the internet—footage that is generating massive underground buzz worldwide.
 
Still haunted by the memory of her missing father—a Cold War security guru who disappeared in downtown Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001—Cayce is soon traveling through parallel universes of marketing, globalization, and terror, heading always for the still point where the three converge. From London to Tokyo to Moscow, she follows the implications of a secret as disturbing—and compelling—as the twenty-first century promises to be...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425198681
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/2005
Series: Blue Ant Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 370,919
Product dimensions: 4.13(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.03(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

William Gibson’s first novel, Neuromancer, won the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, and the Nebula Award in 1984. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of Count ZeroMona Lisa Overdrive, Burning ChromeVirtual LightIdoruAll Tomorrow’s Parties, Pattern RecognitionSpook CountryZero History, Distrust That Particular Flavor, and The Peripheral. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife.

Hometown:

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Date of Birth:

March 17, 1948

Place of Birth:

Conway, South Carolina

Education:

B.A., University of British Columbia, 1977

Read an Excerpt

THE WEBSITE OF DREADFUL NIGHT

Five hours' New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm.

It is that flat and spectral non-hour, awash in limbic tides, brainstem stirring fitfully, flashing inappropriate reptilian demands for sex, food, sedation, all of the above, and none really an option now.

Not even food, as Damien's new kitchen is as devoid of edible content as its designers' display windows in Camden High Street. Very handsome, the upper cabinets faced in canary-yellow laminate, the lower with lacquered, unstained apple-ply. Very clean and almost entirely empty, save for a carton containing two dry pucks of Weetabix and some loose packets of herbal tea. Nothing at all in the German fridge, so new that its interior smells only of cold and long-chain monomers.

She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien's theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.

She wonders if this gets gradually worse with age: the nameless hour deeper, more null, its affect at once stranger and less interesting?

Numb here in the semi-dark, in Damien's bedroom, beneath a silvery thing the color of oven mitts, probably never intended by its makers to actually be slept under. She'd been too tired to find a blanket. The sheets between her skin and the weight of this industrial coverlet are silky, some luxurious thread count, and they smell faintly of, she guesses, Damien. Not badly, though. Actually it's not unpleasant; any physical linkage to a fellow mammal seems a plus at this point.

Damien is a friend.

Their boy-girl Lego doesn't click, he would say.

Damien is thirty, Cayce two years older, but there is some carefully insulated module of immaturity in him, some shy and stubborn thing that frightened the money people. Both have been very good at what they've done, neither seeming to have the least idea of why.

Google Damien and you will find a director of music videos and commercials. Google Cayce and you will find "coolhunter," and if you look closely you may see it suggested that she is a "sensitive" of some kind, a dowser in the world of global marketing.

Though the truth, Damien would say, is closer to allergy, a morbid and sometimes violent reactivity to the semiotics of the marketplace.

Damien's in Russia now, avoiding renovation and claiming to be shooting a documentary. Whatever faintly lived-in feel the place now has, Cayce knows, is the work of a production assistant.

She rolls over, abandoning this pointless parody of sleep. Gropes for her clothes. A small boy's black Fruit Of The Loom T-shirt, thoroughly shrunken, a thin gray V-necked pullover purchased by the half-dozen from a supplier to New England prep schools, and a new and oversized pair of black 501's, every trademark carefully removed. Even the buttons on these have been ground flat, featureless, by a puzzled Korean locksmith, in the Village, a week ago.

The switch on Damien's Italian floor lamp feels alien: a different click, designed to hold back a different voltage, foreign British electricity.

Standing now, stepping into her jeans, she straightens, shivering.

Mirror-world. The plugs on appliances are huge, triple-pronged, for a species of current that only powers electric chairs, in America. Cars are reversed, left to right, inside; telephone handsets have a different weight, a different balance; the covers of paperbacks look like Australian money.

Pupils contracted painfully against sun-bright halogen, she squints into an actual mirror, canted against a gray wall, awaiting hanging, wherein she sees a black-legged, disjointed puppet, sleep-hair poking up like a toilet brush. She grimaces at it, thinking for some reason of a boyfriend who'd insisted on comparing her to Helmut Newton's nude portrait of Jane Birkin.

In the kitchen she runs tap water through a German filter, into an Italian electric kettle. Fiddles with switches, one on the kettle, one on the plug, one on the socket. Blankly surveys the canary expanse of laminated cabinetry while it boils. Bag of some imported Californian tea substitute in a large white mug. Pouring boiling water.

In the flat's main room, she finds that Damien's faithful Cube is on, but sleeping, the night-light glow of its static switches pulsing gently. Damien's ambivalence toward design showing here: He won't allow decorators through the door unless they basically agree to not do that which they do, yet he holds on to this Mac for the way you can turn it upside down and remove its innards with a magic little aluminum handle. Like the sex of one of the robot girls in his video, now that she thinks of it.

She seats herself in his high-backed workstation chair and clicks the transparent mouse. Stutter of infrared on the pale wood of the long trestle table. The browser comes up. She types Fetish:Footage:Forum, which Damien, determined to avoid contamination, will never bookmark.

The front page opens, familiar as a friend's living room. A frame-grab from #48 serves as backdrop, dim and almost monochrome, no characters in view. This is one of the sequences that generate comparisons with Tarkovsky. She only knows Tarkovsky from stills, really, though she did once fall asleep during a screening of The Stalker, going under on an endless pan, the camera aimed straight down, in close-up, at a puddle on a ruined mosaic floor. But she is not one of those who think that much will be gained by analysis of the maker's imagined influences. The cult of the footage is rife with subcults, claiming every possible influence. Truffaut, Peckinpah . . . The Peckinpah people, among the least likely, are still waiting for the guns to be drawn.

She enters the forum itself now, automatically scanning titles of the posts and names of posters in the newer threads, looking for friends, enemies, news. One thing is clear, though; no new footage has surfaced. Nothing since that beach pan, and she does not subscribe to the theory that it is Cannes in winter. French footageheads have been unable to match it, in spite of countless hours recording pans across approximately similar scenery.

She also sees that her friend Parkaboy is back in Chicago, home from an Amtrak vacation, California, but when she opens his post she sees that he's only saying hello, literally.

She clicks Respond, declares herself CayceP.

Hi Parkaboy. nt

When she returns to the forum page, her post is there.

It is a way now, approximately, of being at home. The forum has become one of the most consistent places in her life, like a familiar café that exists somehow outside of geography and beyond time zones.

There are perhaps twenty regular posters on F:F:F, and some much larger and uncounted number of lurkers. And right now there are three people in Chat, but there's no way of knowing exactly who until you are in there, and the chat room she finds not so comforting. It's strange even with friends, like sitting in a pitch-dark cellar conversing with people at a distance of about fifteen feet. The hectic speed, and the brevity of the lines in the thread, plus the feeling that everyone is talking at once, at counter-purposes, deter her.

The Cube sighs softly and makes subliminal sounds with its drive, like a vintage sports car downshifting on a distant freeway. She tries a sip of tea substitute, but it's still too hot. A gray and indeterminate light is starting to suffuse the room in which she sits, revealing such Damieniana as has survived the recent remake.

Partially disassembled robots are propped against one wall, two of them, torsos and heads, like elfin, decidedly female crash-test dummies. These are effects units from one of Damien's videos, and she wonders, given her mood, why she finds them so comforting. Probably because they are genuinely beautiful, she decides. Optimistic expressions of the feminine. No sci-fi kitsch for Damien. Dreamlike things in the dawn half-light, their small breasts gleaming, white plastic shining faint as old marble. Personally fetishistic, though; she knows he'd had them molded from a body cast of his last girlfriend, minus two.

Hotmail downloads four messages, none of which she feels like opening. Her mother, three spam. The penis enlarger is still after her, twice, and Increase Your Breast Size Dramatically.

Deletes spam. Sips the tea substitute. Watches the gray light becoming more like day.

Eventually she goes into Damien's newly renovated bathroom. Feels she could shower down in it prior to visiting a sterile NASA probe, or step out of some Chernobyl scenario to have her lead suit removed by rubber-gowned Soviet technicians, who'd then scrub her with long-handled brushes. The fixtures in the shower can be adjusted with elbows, preserving the sterility of scrubbed hands.

She pulls off her sweater and T-shirt and, using hands, not elbows, starts the shower and adjusts the temperature.

FOUR hours later she's on a reformer in a Pilates studio in an upscale alley called Neal's Yard, the car and driver from Blue Ant waiting out on whatever street it is. The reformer is a very long, very low, vaguely ominous and Weimar-looking piece of spring-loaded furniture. On which she now reclines, doing v-position against the foot rail at the end. The padded platform she rests on wheels back and forth along tracks of angle-iron within the frame, springs twanging softly. Ten of these, ten toes, ten from the heels. . . In New York she does this at a fitness center frequented by dance professionals, but here in Neal's Yard, this morning, she seems to be the sole client. The place is only recently opened, apparently, and perhaps this sort of thing is not yet so popular here. There is that mirror-world ingestion of archaic substances, she thinks: People smoke, and drink as though it were good for you, and seem to still be in some sort of honeymoon phase with cocaine. Heroin, she's read, is cheaper here than it's ever been, the market still glutted by the initial dumping of Afghani opium supplies.

Done with her toes, she changes to heels, craning her neck to be certain her feet are correctly aligned. She likes Pilates because it isn't, in the way she thinks of yoga, meditative. You have to keep your eyes open, here, and pay attention.

That concentration counters the anxiety she feels now, the pre-job jitters she hasn't experienced in a while.

She's here on Blue Ant's ticket. Relatively tiny in terms of permanent staff, globally distributed, more post-geographic than multinational, the agency has from the beginning billed itself as a high-speed, low-drag life-form in an advertising ecology of lumbering herbivores. Or perhaps as some non-carbon-based life-form, entirely sprung from the smooth and ironic brow of its founder, Hubertus Bigend, a nominal Belgian who looks like Tom Cruise on a diet of virgins' blood and truffled chocolates.

The only thing Cayce enjoys about Bigend is that he seems to have no sense at all that his name might seem ridiculous to anyone, ever. Otherwise, she would find him even more unbearable than she already does.

It's entirely personal, though at one remove.

Still doing heels, she checks her watch, a Korean clone of an old-school Casio G-Shock, its plastic case sanded free of logos with a scrap of Japanese micro-abrasive. She is due in Blue Ant's Soho offices in fifty minutes.

She drapes a pair of limp green foam pads over the foot rail, carefully positions her feet, lifts them on invisible stiletto heels, and begins her ten prehensile.

—Reprinted from Pattern Recognition by William Gibson by permission of G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2003, William Gibson. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

 

 

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Assuredley one of the first authentic and vital novels of the 21st century." —Washington Post Book Review

"Welcome to the present, Mr. Gibson. In his first book set in the present, Gibson turns loose the full power of his laser eyes...A masterful performance."
Chicago Tribune

"Dangerously hip...will amaze you."
USA Today

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Pattern Recognition 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 114 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book takes the reader into the world of Cayce Pollard. Pollard is paid to rpedict trends in advertising and has a strange phobia to certain logos. The plot involves the search for the creator of film clips that are being released on the internet. Pollard is paid to hunt for the creator, and the trip takes to Japan, and Russia. I found the book hard to follow. The text rambled at times. I also didn't connect with Pollard and the obsession with the film. If you are a Gibson fan, this book may appeal to you. However, if you have not read any of Gibson's work I would not recommend this book to be your first.
Guest More than 1 year ago
William Gibson's ground-breaking debut novel Neuromancer set new standards for science fiction, launched the sub-genre 'cyberpunk,' and coined the term 'cyberspace.' For his latest, Gibson steps away from the near-future, and into the post-9/11 present. Protagonist Cayce Pollard posesses a sensitivity to advertising that makes her valuable to advertising agencies looking to determine which campaigns and logos and trends will be successful. While working in London for one agency, she determines that her employer has a hidden agenda for hiring her: he wants her to discover the creator of mysterious footage that has created a devoted following on the internet. Cayce is haunted throughout by the disappearance (and possible death) of her father in New York during September 11's terrorist attacks. As usual, Gibson displays his knack for strong, interesting characters. Although Gibson usually ends his books awkwardly, I thought he managed to tie everything up satisfactorily. The weakness of Pattern Recognition lies in it's slow pacing and sometimes tangential interuptions. It's an even work, but worth reading for fans and non-fans alike. It's always interesting to watch an artist stretch himself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a Gibson fan from WAY back, Neuromancer being one of my favorite books of all time, and I truly mean that! I had the opportunity to read Pattern Recognition back-to-back with a fine denouement to the Rei Toei Trilogy, All Tomorrow's Parties, and I thought this was very helpful to make comparisons to. Overall, I enjoyed this book greatly, right up till about thirty pages from the end...which is a shame, because the anticlimax and absurdity of part of the ending ruined what truly WOULD have been Gibson's best book since his first. The premise of the footage and the hunt for its maker were all pure Gibson, rendering the novel's setting in the post-9/11 world irrelevant when compared with Gibson's prior settings of 'the not too distant future,' although why he felt use of this sensational date was necessary is beyond me; it felt like little more than a superfluous, thrown-in plot point. Also Cayce Pollard makes for a most compelling heroine, easily Gibson's most fully-formed since his more famous Case, and I found her 'allergy' to trademarks fascinating, as any good intellectual property attorney would! The steps she takes to determining the footage's maker, and the eventual revelation of the same, is full of a pathos and tenderness I'd not ever really gotten from a Gibson novel, and it was really welcome. After such a revelation, then, no wonder everything came as an anticlimax. And yet, the book DOES end on this bad note, not so much emotionally as with too many loose ends neatly, and almost incredulously, sewn up. Gibson's ending here suffers from what I call 'the MASH syndrome,' after an insufferable episode of the TV show where absolutely EVERY SINGLE THING revolves around one patient's recovery there. (Truth to tell, I think one reason why everyone dislikes George Lucas' latest Star Wars efforts is due to this same thing, such as Anakin being the creator of C-3PO. Is the galaxy really that small?) Much like in that episode then, characters are linked together and used in the ending pages of Pattern Recognition in ways that will have you near-laughter, saying, 'Does he really expect me to believe THAT?' And don't even get me STARTED on the 'duck in the face' references, I simply hated them! Still, this is not meant to be a negative criticism at all, and I hope my tone doesn't give that impression. Gibson's ear for fantastic-sounding prose is fully-intact here, and both the premise and major plot points of Pattern Recognition are credible and gripping, especially in these early years of the 21st Century. It's just that when wrapping up a great meal, you would like dessert to be perfect as well...and in this one case, the Master of Cyberpunk sort of let me down. At least I had All Tomorrow's Parties to fall back on though. Hope everyone enjoys ALL this wonderful writer's simply awesome works.
Miche11e on LibraryThing 5 days ago
My spouse bought me this for Valentine's Day. William Gibson lives in Vancouver and is best known for Neuromancer.Pattern Recognition is a truly modern novel. The story is told both through the thoughts of the protangonist, Cayce Pollard, and the numerous emails, chat sessions and websites that she visits. The story has some new science fiction ideas; a phobia of brands, and occupations of both influencing and predicting trends.The book was OK, but it would be better if if was edited down a bit. It will be an OK movie.
heidilove on LibraryThing 5 days ago
I love Cayse, her particular brand of logophobia, and her voice. I like this better than most Gibson works, which might mean that true Gibson-ites are not going to care for it as much. Good questions about the maker and what is made. Brought to mind The Moderns.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
klugje More than 1 year ago
Cayce Pollard, a cool hunter paid to predict the hottest trends, is in London where she has been hired to evaluate the redesign of a famous corporate logo. Upon completion of this project she is offered another assignment: to track down the maker of the obscure video clips that have taken the internet by storm and created a worldwide underground subculture. While in pursuit of this mysterious maker, traveling from London to Tokyo to Moscow, she finds herself thrust into the seedy underbelly of the marketing world of which she's observed for so long. Along the way she finds herself facing questions surrounding her father, who disappeared in Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001. Just as Alice descended into Wonderland, the lines between what was real to Cayce and what could only be perceived begin to blur. The author, William Gibson, truly has a gift. His characters are believable, if not directly relatable. He is able to set the scene without overuse of description. I found the idea of the footage very intriguing. I found the sensitivity of the main character, Cayce, to be rather amusing while still being believable. Overall, I found this story to be well-written and intriguing without going beyond the realm of possibility.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I listened to this as an audio book & truely enjoyed the tale. Perhaps, as with "An Archers Tale", the rhythm of the writing is better displayed while read out loud.
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This is one of my very favorite books. The plot is enthralling, the characters haunting, and the prose is so gorgeous that I reread some paragraphs just for the beauty of the writing.
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