William Gibson – Pattern Recognition

Cayce Pollard is a cool hunter, a woman with an instinct for the next big thing, and an allergy to excessive branding. She is also a dedicated follower of something called “the footage,” a mysterious series of film fragments that someone, somewhere, is posting on the web. No-one knows who they are, what they mean, or even if the clips are from a finished film or a work in progress. While working on a big job involving a major corporate rebranding, Cayce gets persuaded to find out where the footage is coming from.

Although the hunt for the footage makes for a fine plot, driving the action from London to Tokyo to Moscow, it’s really Cayce herself, and the people she meets that make the book more than a simple mystery thriller. (Which is just as well, because the ending suffers from Sidelined Protagonist Syndrome, although not as much as, say, Greg Bear’s Vitals.) Hubertus Bigend, the charming entrepreneur; Parkaboy, the enthusiastic footagehead she interacts with via forum and email; Voytek, the artist who collects old ZX-81 computers; Dorotea, the über-bitch designer and former industrial éspion; and so many more.

Gibson’s prose is smooth like Belgian chocolate, and cool like an Armani glacier. The last third of the book is more plot-driven than character-driven, but Pattern Recognition is never less than a delight to read. Each page is an adventure, each sentence a treat. Exceedingly worthwhile.