I started reading William Gibson in the late 90s, by which time Neuromancer was a strange mix of past, present and future; possibly as a result I preferred his Bridge trilogy. When Pattern Recognition came out I didn’t pick it up; I’m not really sure why, possibly from a snap first impression that it was something to do with advertising. Spook Country, on the other hand, sounded much more like it; espionage fiction had been a bit quiet since the end of the Cold War.
Typically for Gibson, Spook Country kicks off in median res, the first few chapters being slightly hard work as you assimilate the main characters, then it’s off on the trail of a container via virtual locative art, medieval history filtered through tranquillizers and the orishas of Santeria, ending with almost as many questions as you started (albeit different ones). Gibson’s prose is as vivid as ever, and on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed Spook Country, though the “lead singer of a cult indie band” background of the lead character jarred slightly.
For a slightly more acerbic (but obviously spoilertastic) take, it’s also the feature of one of The Guardian’s rather excellent Digested Reads.
Pattern Recognition is great! One of his best in my book (pardon the pun), and it’s only very indirectly about advertising. I read the Neuromancer trilogy when it came out and was, at the time, blown away, though I’m not surprised that they probably seem a little weird now.
Will pick up Spook Country soonest.
Splendid, I’ll definitely pick up Pattern Recognition; the whole “sounds like advertising” objection is an entirely illogical instinctive thing, probably listening to too much Bill Hicks at the time or something…
The protagonist is actually more of a … pattern recogniser (hence title among other things) — what’s trendy, what will be, stuff like that. Used by advertising but not *of* advertising. The tone reminded me a fair bit of Idoru, if that helps.
I can also recommend Pattern Recognition. It’s a fairly short book – but my word is it hard work!
Gibson is a master of packing a lot of very rich description into a very small space. Reading PR was a bit like chewing a really chewy steak, but with my eyes.