How Stoked Am I?

February 6, 2007 at 3:22 pm | Posted in Media | 1 Comment

William Gibson, my long-time favorite living author (points for who knows my favorite zombie author,) has a new novel coming out for my birthday! Well, August 7th actually, but who ‘s counting. I dunno what it is about, nor do I really care, but it sounds like he is sticking with the present-day setting of his last, Pattern Recognition. That is just fine by me.

As it is no secret that I’m a huge Gibson fan, I often get asked which book to read by him and my answer is usually “it depends….” and then I launch into a lengthy discussion of the relative strengths of his novels and what the best entry point is. In a nutshell: I break his work into 4 categories:

      The Sprawl Trilogy (Nuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive) is the origonal work, and many believe the popular-genesis of the Cyberpunk movement/genre. Nuromancer (the first in the loosely connected series) is groundbreaking, mindblowing, and really neat but it is also raw, immature, and lacks the craftsmanship of his later work (though these are reasons that I really love it. You can FEEL Gibson’s youthful exuberance in the urgency of the text.) This is the best starting-point if you’re a fan of the Cyberpunk ethos and want to see where a lot of it came from.

      The Bridge Trilogy (Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow’s Parties) are much more mature works. They are set in a (more) near-future, post-earthquake Bay Area and deals with the emergence of a society-altering technology. Like the more “core” cyberpunk of his earlier works it set in a markedly distopian world populated by roughly-hewn and gritty characters, however it has a markedly more optimistic tone and is more forgiving than the darker first trilogy. This is the best entry point if you want Sci-Fi, but are not particularly interested in the genesis of the Cyberpunk movement. The Bridge trilogy features richer characters and better writing, and is still plenty shiny and Sci-Fi. I’m partial to Virtual Light especially.

      Gibson’s post-scifi work is currently comprised of his last novel: Pattern Recognition; which, I would assume, will be joined by Spook Country upon publication. Pattern Recognition is set in present day, post 9/11 world and is tough to sum-up. On the surface you have a prodigy freelance ad-(wo)man/coolhunter who’s unique talent (an allergy to sucky marketing) gets her on the shit-list of a powerful and connected ad executive. Add in the mysterious disappearance of her father in the neighborhood of Ground Zero, the even more mysterious and alluring viral web-video akin (and presage to) Loneygirl13, and the prerequisite cool/weird technology and jet-setting locals (Russia, London, New York, and some Asian metropolis to name a few) and you’ve got a pretty intense and layered “techno thriller.” This is certainly his most accomplished work, and a great starting point if you are leery of Sci-Fi, if you wished Dan Brown’s books were about more than just the mystery, or if you just want a truly “smart” thriller.

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      1. psssst! I’m glad you’re back, even though I’m the only one who knows this is here!


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