Pattern Recognition Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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The accolades and acclaim are endless for William Gibson's coast-to-coast best seller. Set in the post-9/11 present, Pattern Recognition is the story of one woman's never-ending search for the now....
Cayce Pollard is a new kind of prophet - a world-renowned "coolhunter" who predicts the hottest trends. While in London to evaluate the redesign of a famous corporate logo, she's offered a different assignment: find the creator of the obscure, enigmatic video clips being uploaded to the Internet - footage that is generating massive underground buzz worldwide.
Still haunted by the memory of her missing father - a Cold War security guru who disappeared in downtown Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001 - Cayce is soon traveling through parallel universes of marketing, globalization, and terror, heading always for the still point where the three converge. From London to Tokyo to Moscow, she follows the implications of a secret as disturbing - and compelling - as the 21st century promises to be....
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 22 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||October 31, 2017|
|Best Sellers Rank||
#20,642 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#145 in Technothrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#151 in Hard Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#170 in Political Thrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from the United States
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Characters are deliciously drawn. The mystery unravels at a pace that is pitch perfect. The sadness and strange subtle shift of America after 9/11 is captured in a way that other authors haven't touched, which is interesting considering that the novel takes us from London to Tokyo, and Moscow, to Paris.
I love this world. I can't wait to read the book or the books that are going to connect his most recent texts - those set in our present - back to those that are set in the near future, and the still far future of his earlier work.
2. I love fiction that has you trying to figure out what is going on. But only when the answers make sense! Things jell superficially at the (very distant) end of the story, but nobody’s motivations or actions feel real when you bite down on them. Let me ask one question: why did Cayce ask her intel friend for the *email* of the maker? Why not the name, or a dossier, etc.? I think it was at that point I just stopped caring, and started skimming a bit.
3. There were no characters I cared about, not even the main one. The only character that came across as real was the nerd in Tokyo.
In all, I can’t decide if Gibson was just phoning it in, or something more. The book is so nearly farce, I suspect it might actually be one, with us readers as the butt.
I came to think of this particular story as like a Hitchcock movie. If you decide to pick this one up, you'll see what I mean. A lot of the plot is built around the internet social groups & available tech of 2001. It's the people that are Hitchcock -like. I had fun casting roles in my head.
About a year after the first reading, I went back and was stunned by how much I loved the book. As he matures, Gibson has gotten away from his youthful pyrotechnics and become more interested in things like how power is wielded in society and how marketing creates our sense of culture. You have to slow down to get this book, and savor it like a good meal — but once you've accepted that no one is going to get shot, turn themselves into a cyborg, or rob a bank on a broken leg, I think you'll find Gibson's social and moral matrix as satisfying as the virtual one.
Top reviews from other countries
It already feels a little like a lost world, being set before smart phones and after 9/11 but before the 2003 war and all that followed. But that won't lessen your enjoyment; it's a period novel, not dated. It contains everything you want in a Gibson novel: constant motion and fatigue, leaps around the world, an interesting female protagonist, and Cool dripping off everything like a spilled substance.
It contains some stuff you haven't seen before in a Gibson novel, too. Deep examination of the personal effects of international events, and that as metaphor for the way ripples from those same events run out around the globe an subtly change... everything in the modern world.
There are other contenders for that title, of course: John Buchan's 'John Macnab', for its beautifully written amalgam of a rattling good adventure with its passionate evocation of an Elysian age largely of his own imagining; J. I. M. Stewart's superlative 'Young Pattullo' with its glorious portrayal of an Oxford that is simultaneously so reminiscent of, yet remote from, my own Oxford experience; and David Mitchell's 'Cloud Atlas' with its intricately concentric structure and mind-blowing melding of plotlines across ages.
There is also, of course, Anthony Powell's 'Dance to the Music of Time'. I tend to think of my life as falling into two distinct phases: that dull sepia-tone stretch of tedium and woe before I met my wife and the glorious 64 bit kaleidoscopic years that followed. I sometimes wonder, however, whether reading 'A Dance to the Music of Time' was a similarly significant watershed moment (well, scarcely a moment as there are twelve volumes). Still, as it occurs to me that Catherine might read this I had better scratch that last thought. Phew, that was close but I think I got away with it.
Anyway, I am rambling. William Gibson is probably best known for his cyberpunks novels, and in particular for 'Neuromancer' which really launched the genre. His cyberpunk works are set in a technology-ridden, post-apocalyptic near future with anarchy threatening all around. 'Pattern Recognition' is very different. Written in 2003 it is set in an unspecified but very close future in a world immediately recognisable to us.
It was also one of the first novels to engage meaningfully with the events of 11 September 2001. Gibson was about halfway through writing the novel when 9/11 happened. As Cayce Pollard, the novel's amazing protagonist, is from New York it was utterly implausible for her not to refer to such a cataclysmic event, and Gibson reworked the book to feature 9/11 in her back story in a very sensitive and moving manner.
Other aspects of the novel include an alarming dissection of the lupine mores of the world of advertising agencies where industrial espionage and intimidation are all grist to the copy mill. Gibson also invents an early form of viral advertising and throws in an immensely readable history of mechanical computing.
Gibson's writing is economic, even sometimes austere, but he has a great capacity for conveying his heroine's emotions. Cayce Pollard is one of the most empathetic and credible characters I have read.
Advertising consultant Cayce Pollard, renowned as a “coolhunter” because of her ability to assess the likely success of new logos and brand insignia though she actually reacts to branding and advertising as if to an allergen, arrives in London in August 2002. She has been retained by innovative new marketing consultants Blue Ant to judge the effectiveness of a proposed corporate logo for a major sportswear company. During the presentation, graphic designer Dorotea Benedetti acts towards Cayce in an especially hostile manner as she rejects the first proposal. After dinner with some Blue Ant employees, the company founder Hubertus Bigend offers Cayce a new contract: to uncover who is responsible for producing and distributing a series of anonymous, artistic film clips which have been released periodically in obscure backwaters of the internet. Cayce had already become obsessed with these clips (referred to by fellow fans just as “the footage”) and has been a leading participant in an online discussion forum theorizing on their provenance and meaning, setting, and other aspects. Wary of the risk of corrupting the artistic process and mystery of the clips, she reluctantly accepts.
A friend from the discussion group, who uses the handle Parkaboy, privately emails her saying a friend of a friend has discovered an encrypted watermark on one clip. They concoct a fake persona, a young woman named Keiko, to seduce the Japanese man who knows the watermark code. Cayce, along with an American computer security specialist, Boone Chu, hired to assist her, travels to Tokyo to meet the man and retrieve the watermark code. Two men attempt to steal the code but Cayce escapes and travels back to London. Boone travels to Columbus, Ohio to investigate the company that he believes created the watermark. Meanwhile, Blue Ant hires Dorotea who reveals that she was previously employed by a Russian lawyer whose clients have been investigating Cayce. The clients wanted Cayce to refuse the job of tracking the film clips and it was Dorotea's responsibility to ensure this.
Through a completely random encounter Cayce meets Voytek Biroshak and Ngemi; the former an artist using old ZX81 microcomputers as a sculpture medium, the latter a collector of rare technology (he mentions purchasing Stephen King's word processor, for example). Another collector, and sometime 'friend' of Ngemi's, Hobbs Baranov, is a retired cryptographer and mathematician with connections in the American National Security Agency. Cayce strikes a deal with him: she buys a Curta calculator for him and he finds the email address to which the watermark code was sent. Using this email address Cayce makes contact with Stella Volkova whose sister Nora is the maker of the film clips.
Cayce flies to Moscow to meet Stella in person and watch Nora work. Nora is brain damaged from an assassination attempt and can only express herself through film. At her hotel, Cayce is intercepted and drugged by Dorotea and wakes up in a mysterious prison facility. Cayce escapes; exhausted, disoriented and lost, she nearly collapses as Parkaboy, who upon Cayce's request was flown to Moscow, retrieves her and brings her to the prison where the film is processed. There Hubertus, Stella and Nora's uncle Andrei, and the latter's security employees are waiting for her. Over dinner with Cayce, the Russians reveal that they have been spying on her since she posted to a discussion forum speculating that the clips may be controlled by the Russian Mafia. They had let her track the clips to expose any security breaches in their distribution network. The Russians surrender all the information they had collected on her father’s disappearance and the book ends with Cayce coming to terms with his absence while in Paris with Parkaboy, whose real name is Peter Gilbert.
I slightly stumbled before writing this review as I read a newspaper's take on the book which accurately described its shortcomings, as held up to its fairest siblings in The Sprawl trilogy, and that was fair, but for some reason I can't or won't see the overall picture any differently. Love is blind. Why do I love this book, then? When I was a little boy growing up as the son of a graphic designer, once in a while these grey obelisks would show up in our home with the Apple logo, and they were utter magic. And as the years crawled by, the grey cases became the translucent millennial plastics that heralded the true arrival of the net and soon after I left home for university and home has never really been one fixed location in space and time since then. So the peculiar sadness of this book, for me, intersects with the definition of 'nostalgia' (i.e. a pain that longs for home). This book, you will eventually discover, is about something buried in your head, in your psyche, that organises everything you make, and about meaning-making itself. Revisiting Neuromancer fairly recently, I found these two books above all of his others have this truly saddening and utterly gorgeous emotional nucleus. The only difference is, Neuromancer is his best book and this isn't, but at a certain level of writing, if you really feel it, that fact doesn't matter at all. So all I can really say from here on out is that I truly loved this book because it is pure jetlagged melancholia distilled into something so bittersweet and, should you decide to give it a go, I hope you feel it too.