Michael's Reviews > Zero History

Zero History by William Gibson
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's review
Aug 22, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: i-lack-objectivity-on-this-one, sf-fantasy-horror
Read in July, 2011

I'm pretty much in Gibson's camp and so find it hard to be entirely objective about his books.

I thought this one was nearly as strong as the awesome Pattern Recognition after the disappointingly baggy Spook Country. Hard to justify exactly why, though. It's not the plot—as usual with his books, the caper plots feel a bit by-the-way. They're fun enough, but they're not really the point and he's never pretend otherwise.

I suppose it boils down to his love of his characters and their obsessions, which so often stand in for his own interests. In this book, it has to do with the process of change in fashion—pinpointing the leading edge for trends; and with one of the more mundane facets of the military-industrial complex—clothing contracts with manufacturers. Just contemplating the size of such contracts hints at the size of the industry served. But again, that's not really the story here. It's just the inciting interests.

The story is more about two characters—one of whom returns from Pattern Recognition, after having been hard hit emotionally by some event we learn about; the other of whom is new to the books and a recovering addict who has a lot of therapeutic language close to hand. Gibson really writes well about characters who are struggling to be better people—hell, he writes well about everything. But ever since Virtual Light, I've felt his books were more about character and less about ideas; his people just gained dimension and got more real. The ideas are still there, of course, but now they're secondary to explorations of character, and that's as it should be.

All of which is to say, if you like his stuff, you'll probably like this one. For those of you who are looking for more overt plotting and a toothier story, this may not be your cuppa.

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