Zero History boasts…a greater lightness than some of Gibson's other novels. But if the plot seems a tad weightless at times…the book proves momentous in other ways. Gibson remains as coolly incisive as ever in his observations, whether about technology or marketing or, yes, fashion…Paranoia is "too much information," reflects Milgrima definition that also explains Gibson's genius as a thinker and a stylist. His trenchant scrutiny of society and culture, and the relentless precision of his prose force us to see his world (and ours) with a troubling exactitude and an extra dose of unease.
The Washington Post
Opposing forces contend violently over what are in the end ephemeral trivialities, the minutiae of modern fashion, in Gibson's quirky tale of 21st-century brand positioning. The attention of eccentric financial genius Hubertus Bigend, seen previously in Pattern Recognition and Spook Country, has landed on military fashion, a field he believes is immune to the vagaries of the market. When an unusual pair of mil-chic trousers raises the possibility that the anonymous designer is copying Bigend's new obsession, Bigend dispatches his team of talented amateurs to investigate the source of the suspiciously au courant trousers. Bigend's competition turns out to be none other than Michael Preston Gracie, an ex-military officer whose unwarranted self-confidence is rivaled only by his ruthlessness. Gibson's style has become even more distilled, more austere, since his science fiction days. Inanimate objects and, in particular, the brands of those objects, are more fully illuminated than the characters using those brands. (Sept.)
“[Gibson] weaves an unnerving tapestry of technology, violence and anxiety.”—The Daily Telegraph (London)
“Fascinating.”—The Seattle Times
“Uncanny.”—San Antonio Express-News
“Brilliant, entertaining, and bittersweet.”—io9
“Zero History is another smartly scouted roadmap of alternate routes through today’s global culture, as powered by what a friend of mine used to call the military-industrial-greeting-card complex. It’s a world where cool is king, but also the key to power—and the future.”—Milwaukee Sentinel Journal
“What matters [about Zero History] are the highly textured, brilliantly evocative prose and the stunning insights Gibson offers into what we perceive as the present moment—the implication being, per the title, that’s all we have left. Unsettling and memorable.”—Kirkus Reviews
One of Gibson's strongest offerings since the pioneering cyberpunk tales that first made his reputation, this near-future tale follows the continuing agendas of deliberately mysterious businessman Hubertus Bigend, who previously appeared in Pattern Recognition and Spook Country. But readers don't need familiarity with the earlier works to appreciate this tale in which former rock star Hollis Henry must track down a secret brand of denim for Bigend while preserving her own and her friends' integrity and safety. Hollis is a sympathetic heroine, competent, conflicted, and with a complex network of friendship and relationship histories that both complicate her life and make her a striking mature contrast to the alienated loners of Gibson's early classics. It's Milgrim, however, a man recently released from Bigend-sponsored rehab, who steals the show with his lack of preconceptions, journey to self-discovery, and connection to others. Only in the steampunk-esque hotel Cabinet and the Gabriel Hounds denim brand does Gibson indulge in a baroque charm that can endanger suspension of disbelief—no one starts a buzz-building secret to get away from fashion—but there is more than enough grit to balance it out. VERDICT A good crossover book for fans of fashion, cutting-edge technologies, and spy thrillers as well as followers of science fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/10.]—Meredith Schwartz, New York
Gibson's third thriller-ish novel set in the present day (Spook Country, 2007, etc.)—like its predecessors, post-modern, post-structural, almost post-speculative.
A comfortable narrative familiarity deriving from the recurring characters (most of them appeared in one or both of the previous books) and motifs—Russian gangsters, pattern recognition, motorcycle couriers, the virtual certainty that somebody, somewhere, is listening—eases us into the action, which occurs, metaphorically at least, in London and Paris, aspects of GibsonWorld with slightly different accents. Shadowy mogul Hubertus Bigend provides the motivation for everything that ensues, through his constant need to live on the edge; if no edge is available, he'll manufacture one. He rehires Hollis Henry, a former vocalist for a famous rock band now down on her luck, to investigate a line of superbly made clothing, Gabriel Hounds, a brand whose method of achieving exclusivity involves rendering itself virtually nonexistent: It has no outlets, no factory, no offices, no sales force. Bigend also hopes to procure a recession-proof contract to design military apparel. Previously he dispatched drug-addicted translator Milgrim to an expensive Swiss clinic to be straightened out, merely to see if it was possible. To test Milgrim's newfound mental architecture, Bigend now sends him to investigate a new line of military-style clothing, unaware that he's stirring up a well-connected and touchy arms dealer about whom U.S. intelligence also is curious. Hollis's ex-boyfriend, daredevil Garreth, who jumped off the tallest building in the world only to get run over by a Lotus, enters the mix. Gibson's plotting or characters rarely compel—the (mostly offstage) spooks and thugs—andthe off-kilter romances seem amateurish, even clownish. What matters are the highly textured, brilliantly evocative prose and the stunning insights Gibson offers into what we perceive as the present moment—the implication being, per the title, that's all we have left.
Unsettling and memorable, weird flaws and all.