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Pattern Recognition

(Blue Ant #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  41,785 ratings  ·  2,073 reviews
Cayce Pollard is an expensive, spookily intuitive market-research consultant. In London on a job, she is offered a secret assignment: to investigate some intriguing snippets of video that have been appearing on the Internet. An entire subculture of people is obsessed with these bits of footage, and anybody who can create that kind of brand loyalty would be a gold mine for ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 367 pages
Published February 2005 by Berkley Books (first published February 3rd 2003)
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Jennifer There is a fair amount of language that is used by the main character in her own peculiar way. I would say that it is primarily written from the…moreThere is a fair amount of language that is used by the main character in her own peculiar way. I would say that it is primarily written from the American perspective as the main character is an American. There are loads of Britishisms and even other languages peppered throughout.(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  41,785 ratings  ·  2,073 reviews

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Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
2018 re-read.

I wrote the below review in March 2015, obviously still not really sure what I had just read. When reading for pleasure (and a lot of the time truth be told) I am a simple man who’ll go after a laugh if there’s one to be had and I did then. But I knew I liked the book and I also knew there was more to the book than I realized.

As readers, we must acknowledge our mortality and in so doing I am conscious of this fact when I consider re-reading a book. There’s only so much time and
Kevin Kelsey
Jul 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
Interesting enough, but nothing special. It is a nice sort of time capsule of the early 2000s, technologically speaking.
Bryce Wilson
Jun 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
It'll happen one day, you'll see. William Gibson WILL right an ending that resembles something other then a last ditch attempt from a man desperate not to default on his contract.

It will not stink of a man who has just watched the sunrise with a headful of Jack Daniels. No it will be thematically fufilling, and tie up and enrich the man threads that have wound through the novel like a tapestry. Giving these rich themes, imagery, and characters the proper glory rather then merely tarnishing
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: myself to reread
I am an excellent reader, as I know many of my friends on goodreads are, but I don’t think there’s enough appreciation of reading as a skill in our world. We take it for granted, those of us who are “literate,” and because it is the base of the things that we learn, we tend to ignore those who excel. Of course, many of those who read well are told they “analyze things too much” or that they “dig too deep” by those who might be solid readers, but probably don’t have serious reading chops.

I think
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved Pattern Recognition nearly as much as Neuromancer and felt the two novels had a lot of similarities. Even though it is classified as general fiction, the novel has a strong SF feel to it. The highly technological societies (New York and the "mirror world" of London) where things are similar but a little different and the efficient, individualistic, widely traveled and rootless characters make Pattern Recognition feel dark and surreal and more like SF.

Boone Chu was an interesting
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it

In this first book in the 'Blue Ant' series, marketing consultant Cayce Pollard is hired to find people who upload mysterious film clips.


New York resident Cayce Pollard is a marketing consultant who instinctively knows what the public will find 'cool'.

Cayce is also a follower of a website called 'Fetish Footage Forum' (FFF) where mysterious film clips - periodically published online - are discussed and analyzed by large numbers of people around the world.

As the story opens in August, 2002
John Huizar
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I love the way that William Gibson writes women. Gibson usually has both male and female protagonists in his books, who may or may not even see one another during the course of the story (the almost-but-never-quite is something he comes back to again and again). Regardless, his female characters are always as strong and capable as the men (and often more so). Cayce Pollard is a wonderful character, and I think that Gibson deftly avoided all the usual pitfalls of men writing female characters.

Jamie Collins
This was my first William Gibson book, and I thought it was beautifully written, quite a literary novel. I liked the characters, and I liked the idea of Cayce being sensitive to trends and brands, and having a logo "allergy". I'm now contemplating scratching the logos off of everything I own.

Plot-wise, this isn't the most exciting book I've ever read. I was never bored, but the pacing was sedate, to say the least. The tone of the book was cool and deliberate - even the single fight scene
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fast-moving high-tech thriller.
Smart and engaging with just the right amount of mystery.

It's entirely possible this is a great book.

I wouldn't know, however, because I made it one chapter into Pattern Recognition before I gave up (for the 2nd time) because it was literally the worst first chapter I've ever read in a published book. At least that I can remember reading. It's possible that some space aliens have been abducting me and forcing me to read alien-written books - which I assume have really bad first chapters - and then erasing my memory, all part of a ploy to guide
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“The medium is the message” – Marshall McLuhan

“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.” – Herbertus Bigend, Pattern Recognition


Pattern Recognition is the story of an eccentric trend spotter, Cayce Pollard, and her mission to find the latest viral videos clips attracting a cult-like appeal. William Gibson masterfully blends concise and powerful storytelling with present-day reality
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marketing consultants, viral video makers
I was hoping to be blown away by the legendary William Gibson (none of whose legendary books I have read), but I found that Pattern Recognition reminded me a lot of Reamde by Neal Stephenson: it's a pacey, interesting techno-thriller that just never quite reached the peak of Awesome. I found Gibson's writing to be stronger than Stephenson's, but his characterization weaker.

The main character is Cayce (pronounced "Case") Pollard, who has one of those odd freelance consultant jobs that can only
As goodreads is Amazon, I am taking my reviews off goodreads. Nonetheless, I hope by providing links along with this ongoing message about why Amazon should not be part of our lives, this message is kept alive. I include some text from the beginning of each review because goodreads has been removing my reviews from places they can be seen and apparently this may make it less likely for them to do this. Read my lips, go on. Whilst a semblance of free speech exists on goodreads. FUCK AMAZON. It is ...more
Emm - On a Hiatus of Uncertain Nature
"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."

Pattern Recognition is a capsule from which paranoia gradually blossoms. Earth is a microcosm, really, in the great span of things, but the rapid onset of technology and connection have had the ironic downside of making it feel as small as it is, tightly webbed yet somehow immensely lonely.

Predictable as it might be for me to say it, this novel
2.5 stars
This wasn’t what I was expecting. My fault entirely, as I misread the blurb. But the story was hard to follow at times with the author making points that went way over my head at times.

It is written in a semi-stream of consciousness style, which didn’t help me to follow what was happening. Stream-of-consciousness writing would have to be one of the things that most turns me off a book. That, and lack of punctuation for dialogue. Happily this one does have adequate punctuation.

This was
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
The writing is so good! That's what William Gibson does best; he is a great writer. For me, however, the story itself was not so interesting and it takes a while to figure out what "Blue Ant" really is - still not entirely sure actually... What I do like very much is how much Gibson knows what is to come; he is a true master of the "near future" sub-genre of scifi. Overall a good read, though some might get Gibson better than I do - I can not fault him for that.
May 11, 2010 rated it did not like it
I don't know how this book got to be a best-seller. Yet as I was traveling last month, I noticed that, for the first time, I was toting, along with my rolling suitcase, a paperback that was all over the airport booksellers' racks.

I thought it was abysmal. A good friend had mentioned it to me, and I thought that he had recommended it, so when I saw a used copy at one of my favorite local bookstores, I grabbed it. I realized later, when I checked my notes, that he had actually recommended Count
Ben Babcock
After reading Neuromancer I took a short detour into some of Gibson’s other works of fiction, and then I read Virtual Light. With Pattern Recognition I seem to have established a trend of reading his three trilogies in a breadth-first rather than depth-first mode: having completed all of the first books, I will now read all three second books, etc. This might be an unusual way to go about it, but I hope it offers some insights and connections that might not make themselves apparent were I to ...more
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Much has been made of Gibson's latest not being science-fiction – and it's not – but it's still Gibson, much like Cryptonomicon was still Neal Stephenson. Incidentally, I'd highly recommend this book to fans of Cryptonomicon, as well as to anyone who has enjoyed any of Gibson's other books.

The ‘cyberpunk' attitude is still there, as the plot interweaves the world of high tech with subculture, organized crime, and the lives of individuals... just instead of in the near future, it's happening now.
Megan Baxter
Dec 18, 2015 rated it liked it
This was a really fun book to read that I enjoyed all the way through. Unfortunately, the end did not live up the rest, leaving me sitting there wondering just a little bit what the point had been. It wasn't bad enough to spoil the enjoyment I got out of reading this book, but it was certainly a little jarring.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd been meaning to read something by Gibson for a long time. I thought it would be Neuromancer. But this book fell into my hands first. Despite its 2003 copyright, which makes it very old by computer-world standards, the high-tech world that Gibson whips up here feels fresh. It takes place today--not in the distant future. Email, the web, viral marketing, high fashion, international espionage, contemporary underground art all collide here. I could not put it down. Takes place mostly in London, ...more
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, cyberpunk
riveting. plus I felt hip reading it.
Set about a year after 9/11, this book is closer to thriller than SF - indeed, I'm not sure I would count it as SF at all. Cayce is a kind of marketing design savant, able to spot by instinct when a brand or logo would be successful. Logos provoke a kind of allergic reaction in her. She's also one of a growing group obsessed with "the footage" - compelling fragments of film released anonymously onto the internet. Cayce frequents a forum that analyses every frame of the footage, debating clothing ...more
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find reading reviews for books I've read depressing. It is so difficult to figure out where people were coming from that led them to such seemingly wrong* reviews. Understanding the reviewer is the most important aspect to understanding any review. They complain about something central to the genre and you're left wondering if they just aren't familiar with the genre, and would dislike all of it if they were, or if this is a bad example of said genre. Who knows?

Some reviewers are kind in this
Gretchen Rubin
Terrific. I happened to pick it up because of (you guessed it) my five senses/body project. And this novel was so good that now I have to go read or re-read all of William Gibson.
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, 2010
Definitely the most accessible Gibson novel written up to this point in his bibliography - it lacks the complex density of Neuromancer and is pretty rooted in the here-and-now. Also unlike his previous novels, Pattern Recognition only follows one protagonist, Cayce Pollard, instead of jumping between several entwining storylines.

Gibson's portrayal of internet groups and internet friendships feels very authentic, especially when compared with fellow sci-fi author Cory Doctorow's. The mysterious
From BBC radio 4 Extra:
Episode 1 of 5
Cayce Pollard is a young American advertising consultant with an unusual allergy - she's hyper-sensitive to brands and branding.

It's a pretty lucrative affliction, because Cayce is a 'coolhunter', employed by multinational companies to test new brands and logos. She knows, instinctively, what will work - and what won't.

But visiting London for what should have been a straightforward job, Cayce becomes involved in something altogether more mysterious and
Luke Burrage
Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #367.
Oct 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: modernlit
This is a little different for Gibson. It's not really a future setting, but it drips with the usual Gibson sentence fragments and whimsy. Overall, the story is there and it has a beginning a middle and an end, but to be honest, the book lacks in a particular quality - there's nothing really at stake.

The story is fairly linear, and focuses on the main character, Casey Pollard. She's what is called a 'cool hunter'. She divines trends and evaluates logo work. She has a literal allergy to fashion
a stephanie
It's a funny CayceP-ish quirk of fate that this was published in 2003 (and not under the radar—it was a NYT bestseller) when I was 23, but I found it a few weeks ago, when I was the exact same age as the protagonist, 32-year-old Cayce Pollard. As Win Pollard says (and Cayce reminds us several times) you must always leave room for coincidence. Or, as pattern recognizer extraordinaire Nate Silver says, beware of overfitting.

Ben in his review succinctly described Pattern Recognition as "The only
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the father of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction, having coined the term cyberspace in 1982 and popularized it in his first novel, Neuromancer(1984), which has sold more than 6.5 million copies

Other books in the series

Blue Ant (3 books)
  • Spook Country (Blue Ant, #2)
  • Zero History (Blue Ant, #3)
“The future is there... looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become.” 1599 likes
“We 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” 101 likes
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