[By Nic Lindh on Tuesday, 13 April 2004]
Pattern Recognition is William Gibson’s first novel set in the present, and is also his most vital work since he burst on the scene with Neuromancer. Pattern Recognition sports all of Gibson’s usual obsessions as well as some new ones, like the impact The Day the Towers Fell has on contemporary society.
All science fiction is by some measure a fun-house mirror or nightmare based on the present, and Gibson has always been enviably plugged in to the paths society is on at the time of his writing. By turning off the sci-fi gadgetry and focusing his efforts on the present–albeit a very much non-evenly distributed present inhabited by a beautiful few–Gibson’s work takes on a whole new level of vibrancy, and the prose in Pattern Recognition is in places hauntingly beautiful.
As is usual, Gibson falls down a bit on the ending, which feels a bit too tidy and quick–after such an incredible build-up, the denouement really leaves you wanting more. But that is a minor quibble.
Interestingly, this novel feels more like a Pynchon novel than any of his other works, which can only be said to be the highest possible praise.
Pattern Recognition is a novel to cherish, re-read and obsess over.