- Pattern Recognition (novel)
infobox Book |
name = Pattern Recognition
image_caption = Original 1st edition cover
country = United States
language = English
Science fiction novel
G. P. Putnam's Sons
release_date = February 3, 2003
media_type = Print (
Hardcover& Paperback), Audiobook
pages = 368 pp (hardcover)
isbn = ISBN 0-399-14986-4
preceded_by = All Tomorrow's Parties
"Pattern Recognition" is a novel by
science fictionwriter William Gibsonpublished in 2003. Set in August and September 2002, the story follows Cayce Pollard, a 32-year-old marketing consultant who has a psychological sensitivity to corporate symbols. The action takes place in London, Tokyo, and Moscowas Cayce judges the effectiveness of a proposed corporate symbol and is hired to seek the creators of film clips anonymously posted to the internet.
The novel's central theme involves the examination of the human desire to detect patterns or meaning and the risks of finding patterns in meaningless data. Other themes include methods of interpretation of history, cultural familiarity with brand names, and tensions between art and commercialization. The
September 11, 2001 attacksare used as a motif representing the transition to the new century. Critics identify influences in "Pattern Recognition" from Thomas Pynchon’s post-structuralist detective story " The Crying of Lot 49".
The novel is Gibson's eighth and the first to be set in the contemporary world. Like his previous work, it has been classified as a science fiction and postmodern novel, with the action unfolding along a thriller plot line. Critics approved of the writing but found the plot unoriginal and some of the language distracting. The book peaked at #4 on the "New York Times" Best Seller list and was shortlisted for the 2004
Arthur C. Clarke Awardand the British Science Fiction Association Award.
Before writing "Pattern Recognition", the author,
William Gibson, published seven novels (one co-written) and numerous short stories beginning in 1977. His previous novel, "All Tomorrow's Parties", was published in October 1999 as the conclusion of the Bridge trilogy. "Pattern Recognition" was written between 2001 and 2002 while Gibson was living in Vancouver, British ColumbiaCitation |last=Gill |first=Alexandra |date= 2003-02-08|title=Back in the here and now |newspaper= The Globe and Mail|place= Toronto|pages=R19.] and released in February 2003. "Pattern Recognition" was originally intended to be a stand alone novel, but afterwards Gibson wrote " Spook Country" which takes place in the same universe and uses some of the same characters.
He traveled to Tokyo in 2001 to prepare for this new novel, which takes place in London, Moscow, and Tokyo. [Citation |last=Gibson |first=William |date=September 2001 |title=My Own Private Tokyo |newspaper=
Wired (magazine)|issue =9.09 |url=http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.09/gibson.html |accessdate= 2008-01-06.] He did not travel to London or Moscow but used interviews with friends and internet resources for research.Citation |last=Lim |first=Dennis |date= 2003-02-12|title=Think Different |newspaper= The Village Voice|url=http://www.villagevoice.com/books/0307,lim2,41824,10.html |accessdate= 2007-12-30.] In September 2001 Gibson had written about 100 pages but was struggling to finish. He stopped writing after watching the September 11, 2001 attackson television and "realized [the novel] had become a story that took place in an alternate time track, in which Sept. 11 hadn't happened". He considered abandoning the novel but a few weeks later re-wrote portions to use the attacks as a motivating factor for the distress the main character feels.cite interview |last= Gibson |first= William | subjectlink= William Gibson |interviewer= Fiona Graham |title= Finding faces in the clouds |url= http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2003/04/27/bogibson.xml |program= The Daily Telegraph|date= April 30, 2003 |accessdate= 2007-12-16] In a 2003 interview he said, "There I was, in the winter of 2001, with no idea what the summer of 2002 was going to be like. ... In the original post-9/11 draft, London felt more like London is feeling right now. Cayce keeps seeing trucks full of soldiers. But I took that out, because as it got closer to the time, it wasn't actually happening."
Advertising consultant Cayce Pollard, who reacts to logos and advertising as if to an
allergen, arrives in London in August 2002. She is working on a contract with the marketing firm Blue Ant to judge the effectiveness of a proposed corporate logo for a shoe company. During the presentation, graphic designer Dorotea Benedetti acts hostile towards Cayce as she rejects the first proposal. After dinner with some Blue Ant employees, the company founder Hubertus Bigendoffers Cayce a new contract: to uncover who is responsible for distributing a series of autonomous, artistic film clips via the internet. Cayce had been following the film clips and participating in an online discussion forum theorizing on the clips’ meaning, setting, and other aspects. Wary of corrupting the artistic process and mystery of the clips, she reluctantly accepts.
A friend, named Parkaboy, from the discussion group 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, Ohioto 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 social connections in London, Cayce meets Voytek Biroshak and Ngemi, dealers of antique calculators. One of their clients, 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 calculatorfor 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 security employees Wiktor Marchwinska-Wyrwal and Sergei Magomedov 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, aka Peter Gilbert.
*Cayce Pollard – A 32-year-old woman who lives in New York City. She pronounces her given name "Case" although her parents named her after
Edgar Cayce. She uses her interest in marketing trends and fads, and her psychological sensitivity to logos and advertising, in her work as an advertising consultant.
Hubertus Bigend– The 35-year-old founder of advertising agency "Blue Ant". He was born in Belgium but educated at a British boarding school and at Harvard University.
*Dorotea Benedetti – The representative of the graphic design company. She has a background in industrial espionage and is secretly hired to encourage Cayce to leave London without accepting Bigend's offer to track the film clips.
*Bernard Stonestreet – A representative of the advertising agency "Blue Ant".
*Peter Gilbert – Cayce's friend from the online discussion forum where he uses the handle "Parkaboy". He lives in
Chicagoand describes himself as a "middle-aged white guy since 1967".
*Boone Chu – A Chinese-American living in Washington State, but raised in Oklahoma. He had a failed start-up company specializing in security. He is hired to assist Cayce in the search for the maker of the footage.
*Voytek Biroshak – A blond man born in Poland and raised in Russia. He acquires and sells antique calculators to raise funds for an exhibition on Sinclair ZX81 computers.
*Damien Pease – A 30-year-old friend of Cayce whose flat she stays at while in London. He is a video director shooting a documentary on WWII battleground excavation near Stalingrad.
*Hobbs Baranov – A former cryptographer and mathematician with British military intelligence. He collects antique calculators and sells signal intelligence as he squats near Poole with a
tyle and story elements
The novel uses a
third-person narrativein the present tense with a somber tone reminiscent of a "low-level post-apocalypticism". Cayce's memories of the September 11, 2001 attacks, which briefly use the future tense,cite web |title= Pattern Recognition by William Gibson |url= http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/nonfiction/patternrecognition.htm |accessdate= 2007-12-15 |first= Jeremy |last=Smith |date=2004-02-21 |publisher= infinity plus] are told by Gibson as "a Benjaminian seed of time", as one reviewer calls it, because of the monisticand lyrical descriptions of Cayce's relationship to objects with the attacks in the background. [Citation |last=Taylor |first=Paul |year=2006 |title=Pattern Recognition in Fast Capitalism: Calling Literary Time on the Theorists of Flux |journal=Fast Capitalism |volume=2 |issue=1 |url= http://www.uta.edu/huma/agger/fastcapitalism/2_1/taylor.htm |accessdate= 2008-01-01.] Two neologisms appear in the novel: "gender-bait" and "mirror-world". Gibson created the term "mirror-world" to acknowledge a locational-specific distinction in a manufactured object that emerged from a parallel development process, for example opposite-side driving or varied electrical outlets. "Gender-bait" refers to a male posing as a female online to elicit positive responses. The term "coolhunter", not coined by Gibson but used in the marketing industry for several years, is used to describe Cayce's profession of identifying the roots of emerging trends. [Citation |last =Gladwell |first =Malcolm |author-link =Malcolm Gladwell |date = 2007-03-17|title =The Coolhunt |periodical =The New Yorker | url =http://www.gladwell.com/1997/1997_03_17_a_cool.htm |accessdate = 2008-01-11.] [cite video |people=Rachel Dretzin, Barak Goodman |date2=2001-02-27 |title=Frontline: The Merchants of Cool |publisher= Public Broadcasting Service|url= http://www-c.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool/ |accessdate=2008-01-09]
The September 11, 2001 attacks are used as a motif representing a break with the past with Cayce's father, who disappears during the attacks, as the personification of the 20th century. Gibson viewed the attacks as a nodal point after which "nothing is really the same".cite journal | last = Suzuki| first = Shigeru | year=2003 | month=November/December |title = A Requiem for the Fall of the Petal | journal =
American Book Review| volume = 25 |issue=1 | publisher = Illinois State University| pages=31] One reviewer commented that in "Gibson's view, 9-11 was the end of history; after it we are without a history, careening toward an unknown future without the benefit of a past—our lives before 9-11 are now irrelevant." [cite journal | last = Barlow | first = Jeffrey | year=2003 | month=March |title = Pattern Recognition | journal = Interface | volume = 3 | issue = 2 | publisher = Berglund Center for Internet Studies ( Pacific University) |url= http://bcis.pacificu.edu/journal/2003/02/gibson.php |accessdate=2007-12-17] Cayce's search for her father and Damien's excavation of the German bomber symbolize the historicistsearch for a method to interpret people’s actions in the past. Coming to terms with her father’s disappearance may be interpreted as a requiem for those lost to the 20th century, something that may have been influenced by Gibson coming to terms with the loss of his own father.
The film clips are a motif used to enhance the theme of the desire to find meaning or detect patterns. They are released over the internet and gain a cult following, in the same way that the
lonelygirl15videoblog gained an international following in 2006. [citation |first=Frank |last=Ahrens |url= http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/16/AR2006091600105.html |title=The Lessons of 'Lonelygirl': We Can Be Fooled, And We Probably Don't Care |newspaper= The Washington Post|date= 2006-09-17|pages=F07 |accessdate= 2008-03-07.] Corporate interest in the footage is aroused by its originality and global distribution methods. The characters debate whether the anonymous clips are part of a complete narrative or a work in progress, and when or where they were shot. This enigmatic nature of the footage is said to metaphorically represent the nature of the confusing and uncertain post-9/11 future.Citation |last =Rapatzikou |first =Tatiani |year =2004 |title =Gothic Motifs in the Fiction of William Gibson |volume =36 |series =Postmodern Studies |place =New York |publisher =Rodopi |isbn =9042017619.] The author Dennis Danvershas remarked that the footage being edited down to a single frame is like the world compressed into a single novel.cite news |first=Dennis |last=Danvers |authorlink=Dennis Danvers |title=Review: Pattern Recognition by William Gibson |publisher=Blackbird |date=Spring 2003 |url = http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v2n1/nonfiction/danvers_d/gibson.htm |accessdate=2007-11-27] The footage, released freely to a global audience with a lack of time or place indicators, has also been contrasted to "Pattern Recognition" written under contract for a large corporation and which uses liminal name-dropping that definitively sets it in London, Tokyo, and Moscow in 2002.
The central theme throughout the novel involves the natural human propensity to search for meaning with the constant risk of
apophenia.cite news |first=Toby |last=Litt |authorlink= Toby Litt |title=Back to the 80s |publisher= The Guardian|date=April 26, 2003 |url= http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,12084,942915,00.html |accessdate=2007-12-07] Followers of the seemingly random clips seek connections and meaningfulness in them but are revealed to be victims of apophenia as the clips are just edited surveillance camera footage. Likewise, Cayce's mother turns to investigating electronic voice phenomena after Cayce's father disappears. Science fiction critic Thomas Wagner underscores the desire for meaning, or pattern recognition, using a comparison between the film clips and Cayce's search for her father after the attacks:
[T] he very randomness and ineffability of the clips flies in the face of our natural human tendency towards pattern recognition ... [T] he subculture that surrounds "following the footage" ... [is] an effective plot device for underscoring the novel's post-9/11 themes: to wit, the uncertainty of the fabric of day-to-day life people began to feel following that event … [We] as people don't like uncertainty, don't like knowing that there's something we can't comprehend. And if we can't fit something into an existing pattern, then by golly we'll come up with one.cite web |url= http://www.sfreviews.net/patternrec.html |title= Pattern Recognition |accessdate= 2007-11-29 |first= Thomas M. |last= Wagner |year= 2003 |publisher= sfreviews.net]Within the marketing world, Cayce is portrayed not as an outside rebel, but rather a paragon of the system. Inescapably within the system, she seeks an epistemological perspective to objectively interpret patterns.cite journal |last= Skeates |first= Richard |year=2004 |month=April |title = A melancholy future poetic | journal=City | volume = 8 | issue = 1| pages=135–140] The review in "
The Village Voice" calls this search "a survival tactic within the context of no context—dowsing for meaning, and sometimes settling for the illusion of meaning".cite news |first=Dennis |last=Lim |title=How Soon Is Now? - William Gibson's Present Tense |publisher= The Village Voice|date= 2003-02-12|url= http://www.villagevoice.com/books/0307,lim,41823,10.html |accessdate=2007-11-27]
Memory of history
Quote_box|width=30%|align=right|quote=The future is there ... looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become. And from where they are, the past behind us will look nothing at all like the past we imagine behind us now. ... I only know that the one constant in history is change: The past changes. Our version of the past will interest the future about the extent we're interested in whatever past the Victorians believed in. It simply won't seem very relevant.
source=Cayce Pollard (echoing the views of Parkaboy), "Pattern Recognition", pages 59.Using 20th-century relics, such as a Curta calculator, an excavated Stuka, Hobbs Baranov, and Voytek's planned
ZX81show, Gibson raises the question of how a contemporary society views past societies. Gibson portrays the past century as dominated by conflict, suspicion, and espionage. Following the disappearance of Cayce's father, a designer of embassy security systems, on September 11, 2001, Cayce is left feeling "ungrieved" until she reviews footage and records of that day tracking his movements until he vanishes.cite journal |last=Palmer |first=Christopher |year=2006 |month=November |title = "Pattern Recognition": "None of What We Do Here Is Ever Really Private" | journal= Science Fiction Studies| volume =33 | issue =100 |publisher=SFS Publications |issn = 0091-7729 |oclc =1787622 |pages=473–482]
Following this line of thought Gibson raises the question of how the future will view today's society. The novel "adopts a postmodern
historicism" perspective, through the arguments presented by Bigend, Cayce, and Parkaboy. Bigend and Cayce's view of history are compared to those of philosopher Benedetto Crocein that they believe history is open for interpretation when re-written from the frame of reference of another society. Parkaboy rejects this view, believing that history can be an exact science.cite journal |last=Easterbrook |first=Neil|year=2006 |month=November |title = Alternate Presents: The Ambivalent Historicism of "Pattern Recognition" | journal= Science Fiction Studies| volume =33 | issue =100 |publisher=SFS Publications |issn = 0091-7729 |oclc =1787622 |pages=483–504]
Originality and monoculture
The book explores a tension between originality and monoculture by focusing on the artist's relationship with a commercialized world and its marketing of free art and consumer products. Critic Lisa Zeidner argues that the artist's "loyalty and love" involved with creating originality counters Bigend’s assertion that everything is a reflection of something else and that the creative process no longer rests with the individual. Commercialism is portrayed as a monoculture that assimilates originality. The Tommy Hilfiger brand is used as an example, "simulacra of simulacra of simulacra. A dilute tincture of Ralph Lauren, who had himself diluted the glory days of Brooks Brothers, who themselves had stepped on the product of Jermyn Street and Savile Row ... There must be some Tommy Hilfiger event horizon, beyond which it is impossible to be more derivative, more removed from the source, more devoid of soul." [Gibson 2003, p18.]
One critic points out that the marketing agency Blue Ant is named after the wasp
Blue Ant: "it's a wasp with a painful sting. The female hunts for a ground-dwelling cricket. She paralyses it with a sting and lays her egg on it. The still living yet immobile cricket becomes food for the wasp's young. What a clever metaphor for the process of targeting, commodifying, and marketing cool."cite web |url= http://www.clickz.com/showPage.html?page=3622545 |title= Pattern Recognition: Marketing's Mirror World |accessdate= 2007-11-29 |first= Rebecca |last= Lieb |date= February 7, 2003 |publisher= ClickZ Network] On the other hand, as Rudy Ruckernotes, while new art is constantly threatened by commodification, it is dependent on the monoculture for its launching point and uniqueness.cite news |first=Rudy |last=Rucker|title=Logomancer |publisher=Wired |date=February 2003 |url = http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.02/play.html?pg=9 |accessdate=2007-11-27] Gibson's product positioning language and Cayce's analysis of consumerist trends show that society is not a victim of consumerism, but rather its creator who helps shape it without ever stepping outside it.
Branding, identity, and globalization
The novel’s language is viewed as rife with labeling and product placements. Postmodern theorist
Fredric Jamesoncalls it "a kind of hyped-up name-dropping ... [where] an encyclopaedic familiarity with the fashions ... [creates] class status as a matter of knowing the score rather than of having money and power".cite journal | last = Jameson | first = Fredric | authorlink=Fredric Jameson |year=2003 | month=September–October |title = Fear and Loathing in Globalization | url=http://www.newleftreview.org/?page=article&view=2472 |journal = New Left Review|volume=2 |issue=23] He also calls it "postmodern nominalism" in that the names express the new and fashionable. This name-dropping demonstrates how commercialism has created and named new objects and experiences and re-named (or re-created) some that already existed. This naming includes nationalities; there are eight references to nationality (or locality) in the first three pages. Zeidner wrote that the novel's "new century is unsettlingly transitional making it difficult to maintain an individual identity".cite news |first=Lisa |last=Zeidner |title=Netscape |publisher= The New York Times Book Review|date=January 19, 2003 |url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9903E2DC113EF93AA25752C0A9659C8B63 |accessdate=2007-11-27] One character argues that "there will soon be no national identity left … [as] all experience [will be] reduced, by the spectral hand of marketing, to price-point variations on the same thing." [Gibson 2003, p341.] This is juxtaposed against the footage that contains no hints of time period or location. Globalization is represented by characters of varying nationalities, ease of international travel, portable instant communication, and commercial monoculture recognizable across international markets. As an example, Gibson writes how one ‘yes or no’ decision by Cayce on the logo will impact the lives of the people in remote places who will manufacture the logos and how it will infect their dreams.
Quote_box|width=30%|align=right|quote=[W] e have no idea, now, of who or what the inhabitants of our future might be. In that sense, we have no future. Not in the sense that our grandparents had a future, or thought they did. Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which 'now' was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents' have insufficient 'now' to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile. ... We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment's scenarios. Pattern recognition.
Hubertus Bigend, "Pattern Recognition", pages 58–59.
While some reviewers regard the novel as a thrillercite news |title=A noir vision of the future |publisher=
Financial Times|date=April 17, 2003 |url= http://search.ft.com/ftArticle?ct=0&id=030417004255 |accessdate=2007-12-29] others see it as an example of post-millennial science fiction with stories set in the "technocultural future-present". [citation |last=Clute |first=John |author-link =John Clute |title=The Case of the World |magazine= Science Fiction Weekly|publisher= SciFi.com|date=February 24, 2003 |url=http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue305/excess.html|accessdate= 2008-02-23.] Some reviewers note that the novel furthers the post-millennial trend in science fiction of illustrating society's inability to imagine a definitive futurecite journal |last = Hollinger |first = Veronica |year = 2006 |month = November |title = Stories about the Future: From Patterns of Expectation to Pattern Recognition |journal = Science Fiction Studies |volume = 33 |issue = 100 |pages = 452–471 |publisher = SFS Publications |issn = 0091-7729 |oclc =1787622] and the use of technologies once considered advanced or academic now commonplace within society and its vernacular. Gibson said that the only science fiction elements are " [t] he Footage and Cayce's special talents" but that he "never bought that conceit that science fiction is about the future". [citation |title=Interview: William Gibson |magazine= Newsweek|date=February 24, 2003 |issue=8 |pages=75 |volume=141] Dennis Danversexplained the use of science fiction as a narrative strategy:
[s] cience fiction, in effect, has become a narrative strategy, a way of approaching story, in which not only characters must be invented, but the world and its ways as well, without resorting to magic or the supernatural, where the fantasy folks work. A realist wrestling with the woes of the middle class can leave the world out of it by and large except for an occasional swipe at the shallowness of suburbia. A science fiction writer must invent the world where the story takes place, often from the ground up, a process usually called world-building. In other words, in a science fiction novel, the world itself is a distinctive and crucial character in the plot, without whom the story could not take place, whether it's the world of Dune or Neuromancer or 1984. The world is the story as much as the story is in the world. Part of Gibson's point ... is that we live in a time of such accelerated change and layered realities, that we're all in that boat, like it or not. A novel set in the "real world" now has to answer the question, "Which one?"
These elements, and the use of the September 11, 2001 attacks as a breaking point from the past, led academics to label it a postmodern novel. The attacks mark the point where the 'modern', that is the 20th-century certainty in society's advancement towards a better future, changed to the 'postmodern', that is the 21st-century uncertainty in which future will develop.
Fredric Jamesonfinds Gibson using culture as the determinant of change for the first time with this novel, rather than technology. Jameson focuses on the novel's "postmodern nominalism" that uses brand names to refresh old objects and experiences.
In post-structural literary theory Cayce is compared with the main character, Oedipa Maas, of
Thomas Pynchon’s " The Crying of Lot 49" as detectives interpreting clues but with neither the character nor the reader knowing if there actually is a pattern to be found and, if there is one, whether it is real or conspiracy. Gibson's use of name-dropping brands to create a sense of "in-group style … of those in the know" is traced back to Thomas Pynchon’s 1963 novel " V." . Gibson's writing style is said to be similar to Raymond Chandler’s detective stories and Alfred Hitchcock’s thrillers that used McGuffins (the identity of the maker of the footage, in this case) to drive the story. Gibson's social observations are influenced by the works of Naomi Kleinand Malcolm Gladwell.citation |last=Heer |first=Jeet |title=William Gibson can't be bothered with the future |newspaper= National Post|date=October 30, 2003 |pages=B3]
While markedly different from his previous writing, in that it is not set in an imaginary future with imaginary technologies, "Pattern Recognition" includes many of his previous elements, including impacts of technology shifts on society, Japanese computer experts and Russian mafia figures.cite news |first= Stephen |last=Jewell |title=William Gibson: Pattern Recognition |publisher=
The New Zealand Herald|date=February 8, 2003 |url = http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/6/story.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=3099760 |accessdate=2007-12-16] In common with Gibson’s previous work, Paul Di Filippofound the following in "Pattern Recognition": "the close observation of the culture's bleeding edge; an analysis of the ways technology molds our every moment; the contrasting of boardroom with street; the impossibility and dire necessity of making art in the face of instant co-optation; the damaged loner facing the powers-that-be, for both principle and profit".citation |first=Paul |last=Di Filippo |author-link =Paul Di Filippo |title=Prophets and Losses |publisher= Washington Post|date=February 2, 2003 |url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A1126-2003Jan30?language=printer |accessdate= 2007-12-16|page=BW04.]
"Pattern Recognition" was released on February 3, 2003 as Gibson launched a 15-city tour. The novel was featured on the January 19 cover of "
The New York Times Book Review". In the American market it peaked at #4 on the "New York Times" Best Seller list for hardcover fiction on February 23 and spent nine weeks on "USA Today's" Top 150 Best-Selling Books peaking at #34. [Citation |url= http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/23/books/bestseller/0223besthardfiction.html?_r=1&oref=slogin |title=Best Sellers: Hardcover Fiction |accessdate= 2008-01-07|date= February 23, 2003| newspaper= The New York Times.] [Citation |url= http://asp.usatoday.com/life/books/booksdatabase/default.aspx |title=This week's top 150 best sellers |accessdate= 2008-01-07|newspaper= USA Today|work=Best-Selling Books Database. Requires navigation to "Pattern Recognition" or William Gibson entry.] In the Canadian market, the novel peaked at #3 on " The Globe and Mail's" best seller list on February 15 in the hardcover fiction category. [Citation |date= 2003-02-15|title= Hardcover bestsellers |newspaper= The Globe and Mail|publisher= CTVglobemedia.] The novel was shortlisted for the 2004 Arthur C. Clarke Awardand the British Science Fiction Association Award. [cite web |url= http://www.clarkeaward.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=52:2004%20Winner&catid=34:Previous%20Winners&Itemid=58 |title=2004 Winner |accessdate= 2008-01-09 |publisher=The Arthur C Clarke Award] [cite web |url= http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/Db/Bsfa2004.html |title=2004 British Science Fiction Association Awards |accessdate= 2008-01-09 |publisher=Locus Publications]
Gibson's writing has been positively received by science fiction writers
Dennis Danvers, Candas Jane Dorsey, and Rudy Rucker.cite web |url= http://tracearchive.ntu.ac.uk/review/index.cfm?article=41 |title=Pattern Recognition by William Gibson |accessdate= 2007-12-31 |first= Candas Jane |last=Dorsey |authorlink=Candas Jane Dorsey |date= 2003-02-11 |publisher= trAce Online Writing Centre] Rucker has written: " [w] ith a poet's touch, he tiles words into wonderful mosaics" and Danvers has written "no sentence has a subject if it can do without one". One critic has found the prose to be as "hard and compact as glacier ice" and another that it "gives us sharply observed small moments inscribed with crystalline clarity".cite news |first=J. Stephen |last=Bolhafner |title=Pattern Recognition |publisher= St. Louis Post-Dispatch|date=April 20, 2003 |url = http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/entertainment/reviews.nsf/Entertainment/Books/987CFC496D01B9D486256D0C005A05FB?OpenDocument&Headline=This+science+fiction+novel+is+all+too+real |accessdate=2007-11-27] Gibson's descriptions of interiors and of the built environments of Tokyo, Russia and London have been singled out as impressive,cite web |url= http://www.mostlyfiction.com/scifi/gibson.htm#pattern |title= "Pattern Recognition" |accessdate= 2007-12-29 |first= Bill |last= Robinson|date= 2003-03-16 |publisher= MostlyFiction.com] and " The Village Voice"'s review remarked that "Gibson expertly replicates the biosphere of a discussion board: the coffee-shop intimacy, the fishbowl paranoia, the splintering factions, the inevitable flame war". Lisa Zeidner of " The New York Times Book Review" has elaborated:
As usual, Gibson's prose is ... corpuscular, crenelated. His sentences slide from silk to steel, and take tonal joy rides from the ironic to the earnest. But he never gets lost in the language, as he sometimes has in the past. Structurally, this may be his most confident novel. The secondary characters and their subplots are more fully developed, right down to their personal e-mail styles. Without any metafictional grandstanding, Gibson nails the texture of Internet culture: how it feels to be close to someone you know only as a voice in a chat room, or to fret about someone spying on your browser's list of sites visited.Filled with name-dropping of businesses and products, such as
MUJI, Hotmail, iBook, Netscape, and G4, one critic has found the language "awkward in its effort to appear "cool" " [cite news |first=Adam |last=Dunn |title=The cyberpunk arrives at the present |publisher= CNN.com|date=February 4, 2003 |url = http://www.cnn.com/2003/SHOWBIZ/books/02/04/william.gibson/ |accessdate=2007-11-27] while other critics have found it overdone and feared it would quickly date the novel. The " Pittsburgh Post-Gazette" review has commented that the "constant, unadulterated "hipster-technocrat, cyber-MTV" lingo [is] overdone and inappropriate"cite news |first=Anne |last=Jolis |title='Pattern Recognition' by William Gibson |publisher= Pittsburgh Post-Gazette|date=March 16, 2003 |url = http://www.post-gazette.com/books/reviews/20030316gibson0316fnp5.asp |accessdate=2007-11-27] On the technology, Cory Doctorowhas found Gibson's use of watermarks and keystroke loggingto be hollow and has noted that "Gibson is no technologist, he's an accomplished and insightful social critic ... and he treats these items from the real world as metaphor. But ... Gibson's metaphorical treatment of these technologies will date this very fine book".cite web |url= http://www.mindjack.com/books/gibsonpr.html |title= Just Not Evenly Distributed |accessdate= 2007-12-29 |first= Cory |last= Doctorow |authorlink=Cory Doctorow |date= 2003-02-24 |publisher= Mindjack]
Some critics have found the plot to be a conventional "unravel-the-secret" and "woman on a quest" thriller.
Toby Litthas written that " [j] udged just as a thriller, "Pattern Recognition" takes too long to kickstart, gives its big secrets away before it should and never puts the heroine in believable peril". The conclusion, called "unnecessarily pat"cite news |first=Samantha |last=Gross |title=It's back to the present in William Gibson's new thriller |publisher= The Associated Press|date=April 6, 2003 |url= http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_127152.html |accessdate=2007-12-28] by one critic, has been compared by Litt with the "ultimate fantasy ending of 1980s movies - the heroine has lucked out without selling out, has kept her integrity but still ended up filthy rich." The review in the " Library Journal" has called the novel a "melodrama of beset geekdom" that "may well reveal the emptiness at the core of Gibson's other fiction", but recommended it for all libraries due to the author's popularity. [cite journal |last=Berger |first=Roger A. |year=2003 |month=February |title= Pattern Recognition (Book) |journal= Library Journal|volume=128 |issue=2 |pages=116]
The hardcover edition, released in February 2003, was published by the
Penguin Groupimprint G. P. Putnam's Sons. Berkley Bookspublished the trade paperbackone year later, on February 3, 2004, and a mass market paperbackin February 2005. In the UK the paperback was published by Penguin Booksa year after its Viking Pressimprint published the hardcover version. In 2004 it was published in French, Danish, Japanese, German, and Spanish. In 2005 the book was published in Russia. The translation made by Nikita Krasnikov was awarded as the best translation of the year. [cite web |work=Onlile bookstore "Ozon" |title=annual reviews | url=http://www.ozon.ru/context/detail/id/2609574/] Tantor Mediapublished the 10.5-hour long, unabridged audiobookon April 1, 2004 and re-released it on January 1, 2005. Voiced by Shelly Frasier, it is criticized as being pleasant but with distracting dialects. [Citation | last=Adams | first=John | author-link=John Joseph Adams | date= July 2004 | title=Reviews by John Joseph Adams | periodical=Locus Magazine |publisher=Locus Publications |issue=522 | url=http://www.locusmag.com/2004/Reviews/07_AdamsAudiobooks.html | accessdate= 2007-12-27.] The audiobook is available as a digital download from audible.com.
digital radiostation BBC 7broadcast an abridged version of the novel, voiced by Lorelei King, in five 30-minute episodes in February and October 2007. [cite web |url= http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/a-z/p |title=P: Pattern Recognition |work= BBC Programmes |accessdate=2008-03-09 |publisher=BBC] A film adaptationwas initiated in April 2004 with the production company Anonymous Content and the studio Warner Bros. Pictureshiring director Peter Weirand producer Steve Golin. [cite news | first=Dana |last=Harris | coauthors=Cathy Dunkley | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117903722.html?categoryid=13&cs=1 | title=WB holding 'Pattern' | publisher=Variety | date= 2004-04-22| accessdate=2007-02-13 ] Screenwriter David Arata, D. B. Weiss, and Weir co-wrote the screenplay [cite news | first=Michael |last=Fleming | url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117957532.html?categoryid=1236&cs=1&p=0 | title=HBO turns 'Fire' into fantasy series | publisher=Variety | date= 2007-01-16| accessdate= 2007-02-13] but in May 2007, Gibson noted on his personal weblog: "I *do* believe, though, that Peter Weir will not be going forward with Pattern Recognition." [cite news | first=William |last=Gibson |authorlink=William Gibson |url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2007_05_01_archive.asp#2514436070772070825 | title=I've Forgotten More Neuromancer Film Deals Than You've Ever Heard Of |date= 2007-05-01| accessdate=2007-05-22] Sonic Youthincluded a song of the same name on their 2004 album " Sonic Nurse" that opens with the lyric "I'm a cool hunter making you my way". [citation |first=Shawn |last=Conner |url= http://www.straight.com/article/sonic-youth-ages-with-edge | title= Sonic Youth Ages With Edge | newspaper= The Georgia Straight| date= 2004-07-08| accessdate= 2007-12-28]
* [http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/books/pattern.asp William Gibson Books: "Pattern Recognition"] ; author's site
* [http://fawny.org/pr/ PR-Otaku] : Logging and annotating William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition"
* [http://historypreservation.com/hpassociates/detailpop.php?uniqnum=59 Buzz Rickson “Pattern Recognition” Black MA-1 Intermediate Flying Jacket]
* [http://www.cbc.ca/bc/bookclub/williamgibson.html Audio interview at CBC Bookclub – "Pattern Recognition"] (1hr) from 2003: part one runs 16 min; part two runs 9 min; part three runs 17 min; part four runs 9 min
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