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Pattern Recognition
William Gibson
Penguin / Viking hardcover £16.99

review by Christopher Geary

Cayce Pollard is an American consultant to a corporate ad agency, advising designers on promising trends, emergent fads and marketing strategies. She has a gift for knowing what's cool and what's naff on the street, whether browsing the subculture of New York, London, Moscow, Tokyo, or the Internet, but this talent also makes her psychologically vulnerable. Fashion makes her feel sick and she's allergic to brand names. While visiting the UK, where she's contracted to pass aesthetic judgment on a footwear manufacturer's new logo, Cayce is offered a chance to search for the anonymous auteur of mysterious and addictive movie 'footage' that has been posted in brief segments on the web, an opportunity which draws her unwittingly into professional rivalry and personal danger, as cloak and dagger tactics are evidently being used to help and hinder the investigation into the identity and whereabouts of the phenomenally talented 'Garage Kubrick'.
   Set against a backdrop of global paranoia in the aftermath of 11th September's terrorist attacks, and a profoundly witty exploration of corporate politics, multicultural societies, artistic subcultures and entrepreneurial ambition (notably, also the basic ingredients for Gibson's recent genre work), Pattern Recognition is more of a contemporary mystery novel than science fiction, but it deserves attention your attention for being a hugely enjoyable postmodern thriller with likeable characters and enough literary flair for a dozen books from lesser writers. It works as a stylish satire of big business in which the already thin lines between legit market research and spooky industrial espionage are purposely blurred into abstraction, painting a vivid picture of today's world. Despite a distinct lack of the 'speculative fiction' affect, it still offers a few hints of what tomorrow or next year may bring.
Pattern Recognition

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