Cymen Vig

Software Craftsman

William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition"

In short, this book falls flat. My impression is that Gibson wants to jettison his past audience for the literary establishment. The end result is prose that is wooden instead of the sharp metal of his earlier works. Jack Womak should have let Gibson put it to sleep. Some observations:

  • After Casey had the locks replaced, Gibson mentions she forgets to lock the rear door. Why was the flow interrupted to dangle that tidbit which was not used later. And no, I don’t think going with the idea that this is to interrupt the reader’s own pattern recognition. Slack editing?

  • Gibson has 356 pages to introduce the reader to Casey. At the end of 356 pages, the reader is left with little more than a shell of a character. We know about her dad, we know about her phobias, we know about her preferences in clothes. But Casey never quite becomes familiar.

  • The book reads as a one beginning, a bunch of jumping around in the middle and one ending. The flow of the plot is regular but lacking. If I were to take a guess, I’d say (as Gibson hints at the end note), that this book was a struggle. The narrative flow of a book that is written within a relatively short period of time with intense energy is missing.

  • Gibson trots out the usual characterizations of geeks. Can we please have something more insightful? This lends to my argument that he no longer appreciates the members of the audience that began reading his books long ago.

The reason I bother to write this review is that Gibson can write a good novel and has done so a number of times. I hope that he listens to his inner critic on future works. If you don’t have a vision to share with the reader, put down the pen. At least until it comes back! It was frustrating to write this review as it was enjoyable to read.