John's Reviews > Zero History

Zero History by William Gibson
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's review
Nov 27, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-i-own, fiction, cyberpunk-post-cyberpunk-fiction
Read in September, 2010

William Gibson's Best Novel in a Long, Long Time

"Zero History" is more than a satisfying conclusion to the "Hubertus Bigend" trilogy which started with 2003's "Pattern Recognition", as William Gibson's grand literary statement announcing that he and his fiction had finally arrived in the present, a science fictional present, whose existence was predicted by William Gibson in some of his prior work, most notably in some of the short stories comprising his seminal collection "Burning Chrome" and the "Virtual Light" trilogy which concluded on a most triumphant note with his novel "All Tomorrow's Parties". His latest novel really works as a stand-alone technical thriller on its own, though those familiar with the prior novels in this trilogy will certainly obtain the most satisfaction. And yet, those unfamiliar with Gibson's fiction will find ample pleasure reading this fast-paced thriller involving a search for an unknown fashion designer that will lead its protagonists into uncertain, quite darker, directions. "Zero History" should be viewed by potential readers as the best work of fiction he has crafted in years, and one which has been among the most exciting, most satisfying, reading experiences I have had in some time. I view it as the best concluding volume ever written by Gibson for his trilogies.

"Zero History" reunites us with former rock singer and marketing guru Hollis Henry with the ever mysterious Hubertus Bigend and his Blue Ant firm from "Spook Country", financially down on her luck after the 2008 stock market crash, who finds her only hope of financial salvation via Bigend's mission in seeking out an unknown Chicago-based fashion designer. Back from "Spook Country" too is Milgrim, Bigend's latest reclaimation project, who is transformed into a more likable, more sympathetic, character in "Zero History", shadowed by a United States federal special agent, while coping with the lingering psychological after effects of a draconian Swiss drug rehabilitation.

Gibson has always had an uncanny eye for detail, often rendered in his unique, but still, lyrical prose, that has been a defining hallmark of his fiction, ever since he introduced us to the terms "Cyberspace" and "The Sprawl" in his classic "Cyberspace Trilogy" novels and short stories. Here he truly excels in vividly rendering our technological, quite futuristic, present replete with Apple laptops and IPhones. A present instantly recognizable to those who've worked in internet marketing and fashion, and for the veritable hordes who view the Internet as a virtual extension of their daily lives; in plain English, that means all of us, his current and potential literary audience.

"Zero History" definitely ranks high on my list of the best novels published this year. It is a compelling work of fiction that shouldn't be missed, especially by those unfamiliar with Gibson's work. Its publication merely reaffirms the critical and popular acclaim he's received around the world as one of the most exciting, most intriguing, writers working in the English prose. With "Zero History" Gibson has given us a most vivid reminder that we are living in a high tech internet-dominated present nearly as remarkable and as strange as his classic cyberpunk science fiction.

(Reposted from my 2010 Amazon review)
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