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Now in trade paperback from the author of Neuromancer comes a story that takes readers to 21st century Tokyo after the millennial quake, where something violently new is about to erupt.

308 pages, Paperback

First published September 4, 1996

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About the author

William Gibson

225 books12.6k followers
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 worldwide.

While his early writing took the form of short stories, Gibson has since written nine critically acclaimed novels (one in collaboration), contributed articles to several major publications, and has collaborated extensively with performance artists, filmmakers and musicians. His thought has been cited as an influence on science fiction authors, academia, cyberculture, and technology.


William Gibson. (2007, October 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:30, October 19, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?t...

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 631 reviews
Profile Image for Kaethe.
6,331 reviews451 followers
July 8, 2014

Last night my daughter introduced me to one of her hot new things on YouTube: Hatsune Miku, a purely synthetic pop star. In return, I introduced her to this book in which Gibson predicts such a thing, twenty years ago. Then we checked out her other hot new thing, the PBS Idea Channel and among other things, we watched Mike Rugnetta talk about the connections between Gibson, Hatsune Miku, Lana del Rey, pop culture, technology and art. And then I told her about a show that used to be on, Connections by James Burke, which did much the same, albeit with less about art and more about technological breakthroughs. My evening was so meta I can't stand it.

Anyway, now that the book has become reality, I think it's time for a re-read. Well, as soon as Natasha is finished with it.
Profile Image for Ashley.
380 reviews28 followers
September 14, 2007
You know, it seems like I would really like William Gibson, from what I've heard of him, but there's something about his writing that leaves too much out. This book is the first of his I've been able to finish. I still don't feel like I understood everything he was trying to say--something about a melding of science and nature, centered around the music star Rez and the idoru Rei. It was interesting, but I kept feeling like it was something I was reading out of the corner of my eye, and every time I looked directly at it, it slipped away. Very interesting ideas, though.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,847 reviews16.3k followers
November 17, 2018
A Goodreads friend commented that William Gibson’s Bridge trilogy was underrated. I would agree and add under appreciated and under hyped.

Began in 1993 with Virtual Light, this continues with Idoru published in 1996. Bookended by his wildly popular Sprawl series and his later uber-cool Blue Ant trilogy, Bridge seems to be the Grunge 90s of his set, not as hip-flashy as the 80s nor as Ka-Ching as his Y2K writing. But as Grunge exhibited some refreshing and earthy revitalization of popular hard rock, so too does his Bridge writing add some edgy verve to the SF landscape.

As in his other writings, Idoru is a very loose sequel to the first, keeping contact with some characters, but the plot is new and stands alone in his post-change world building.

You can’t really call his Sprawl books dystopian or post-apocalyptic, they are simply a near future glimpse into a world that has taken a hard turn and its residents are living the dream and taking care of business. In Idoru, as in Virtual Light, Gibson introduces us to a near future world that is still rebuilding after some earthquakes have substantially repurposed much of the Pacific rim.

Revisiting his themes of Artificial Intelligence grabbing the center stage and becoming more or less human, Gibson describes a story where a globally successful rock band and some fans get mixed up in some Russian nanotech skullduggery. There’s also some hypertensive examination of what is cool and why – a recurring element in Gibson’s writing.

As in all of his writing, though the real hero here is Gibson and his extraordinary imagination and vision.

Profile Image for Rob.
Author 2 books364 followers
July 8, 2016
Quote: ...I think I'd probably tell you that it's easier to desire and pursue the attention of tens of millions of total strangers than it is to accept the love and loyalty of the people closest to us.

There is an odd surface tension here; some readers may approach Idoru from the wrong bias, through the lens of Neuromancer and the Sprawl trilogy. Those readers will expect the traditional cyberpunk romp of amphetamine-fueled Yakuza battles and twisted violent sex in coffin hotels; those readers will be disappointed and may not be able to penetrate the skin of this charged, deeply emotional book. Idoru is William Gibson's Through the Looking Glass .

In typical Gibson style, the dueling narratives follow two distinctly melancholy characters: there is the starry-eyed teenaged angst of Chia Pet McKenzie and the existential, nearly Phildickian dread of Colin Laney. The novel opens on Laney, recently terminated under dubious circumstances from his "quantitative analyst" position for a tv program called Slitscan; Laney has a rare gift that enables him to tease patterns out of seemingly random data and he is recruited by a Japanese company to come to Tokyo and perform some research on their most valuable asset -- a rock star named Rez. Meanwhile, Chia is sent to Tokyo by her friends in Rez's Seattle-based fan club to discover the truth about The Rumor -- that Rez intends to marry a software construct, an idoru called Rei Toei.

Without a close inspection of the text, the novel might appear energetic but thematically trite. The plot moves along at a brisk pace: trans-Pacific flights whisk our protagonists into a Japanese Wonderland, quick-cut flashbacks fill in their respective histories, malicious and unseen maneuvering keeps every last character on his or her toes. Gibson drops his customary tropes: seedy back-alley deals gone awry, a detailed but ultimately vague send-up of "cyberspace", a mischievous and emergent AI...

But this book has nothing to do with AI or cyberspace or seedy back-alley deals.

At its core, Idoru explores the proposition that intimacy is a function of immersion, of experience, of fully surrendering to the risks of engagement and that knowledge or facts or data by any name and in any quantity cannot bring affinity. The narrative contains a relatively early scene wherein Laney is subject to a monologue by Kathy Torrance (his boss at Slitscan); she goes on at length about "celebrity" as a natural resource, about how media and tabloids like Slitscan have corralled "celebrity" into a commodity that can be controlled and brokered. Taken out of context, the monologue appears to be a provocative and unambiguous statement about celebrity in and of itself. Examining the scene with the novel's thesis in mind, we begin to see what lies at the kernel of Kathy Torrance's soliloquy: how "celebrity" is a focal point for a broad knowledge about a person (or other object of affection/attention) that by definition cannot be fully experienced. "Celebrity" is data presented as intimacy -- the fine-grained details of some person's life presented to you in all their banal urgency, more fantasy than reality, ever out of reach, inevitably unable to satisfy your need to share and experience.

Consider Kathy Torrance's rant about celebrity as a mirror to Alison Shires and Laney's own back-story. As Laney reflects on Alison Shires' suicide, we begin to see these themes take shape. In her original context, Alison is presented to Laney as "all data"; she is little more than some fulcrum of collapsed transactions that swing back onto some celebrity target of Slitscan's. But as her imminent suicide becomes obvious to Laney through his "nodal apprehension", he becomes concerned about, even attached to her; he breaks through his own Fourth Wall and allows himself to become involved, to experience her face-to-face. He is there in her apartment for the shot that kills her. We can hear echoes of his investment, how the experience created an instantly intimate moment which he capsulizes as: "...the whole thing would settle to the sea floor, silting over almost instantly with the world's steady accretion of data." The experience would be lost, buried under the steady stream of celebrity's telemetry, and he wonders how he can live with that outcome.

The novel is peppered with examples to underscore this proposition about intimacy:
* Consider that every bar, cafe, restaurant, etc. featured in the text is somehow themed and each theme is just data, each motif is hollow and empty -- the impression of something, its image, a copy or facsimile or interpretation but not the thing itself;
* Consider how Chia's story about her Sandbenders computer resonates on this chord, how she descrives the disposable shells of modern electronics as insufficient for people to make a connection with them, and how a "tribe" in Oregon humanized each computer through their artisanal cases;
* Consider Masahiko's tales of Walled City and how he continually asserts to Chia that it is "real" and not just a MUD, not just a website;
* Consider Blackwell's final affirmation to Laney, that Kathy Torrance will no longer threaten him, how they will "carve out this deep and meaningful and bloody unforgettable episode of mutual face-time", how they will have reached "very personal terms" -- the data, the facts are discarded, meaningless -- only the experience matters.

Throughout the narrative, there is a very keen sense that each character is desperately seeking something "real", something with which he or she can truly and intimately connect. Rez at one point blurts out: "Nothing like it [...] That physical thing." It is on those sentiments that the novel opens and again where it closes. We open on Laney in the aftershocks of just such a "physical thing" and Chia striking out to Tokyo in search of same. And we close on Rez and Rei Toei -- both symbolic of Kathy Torrance's "celebrity", different sides of that same coin -- discovering that their union cannot be completed without it, and daring to forge just such a path.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
850 reviews2,087 followers
November 25, 2019
Alternating Narratives

There are two alternating narratives in "Idoru". At the end, they merge and become one. "The job worked out."

Rez is the singer in a half Irish, half Chinese band called Lo/Rez, which has outstayed its welcome to (and embrace of) celebrity, and released 26 albums (not counting compilations) since their first Dylanesque-labelled "Lo Rez Skyline".

The Technology of Oneness

To the dismay of their obsessive (girl) fans, Rez has announced that he intends to marry Rei Toei, an idoru, an idol-singer, an artificial personality construct, a "software agent", a pool of data, a synthespian, a sentient hologram, "something generated, animated, projected."

Like the narrative, they progress, intending to become one, a oneness made up of a natural person and a product of technology. "Technology...is an aspect of the natural, of oneness. Through our efforts, oneness perfects itself. And popular culture is the testbed of our futurity."

To Rez, “Rei’s only reality is the realm of ongoing serial creation.” The idoru is “entirely process; infinitely more than the combined sum of her various selves. The platforms sink beneath her, one after another, as she grows denser and more complex."

Seeing Things in Clouds

Density is relevant to Laney, a "netrunner" who "liked to think of himself as a researcher". He analyses information and data, detecting patterns in the system of things, when he enters "nodal mode". Density of information is necessary to allow “nodal apprehension". "It's like seeing things in clouds...except the things you see are really there."

Laney's past experience will be familiar to readers of Christopher Steele:

"In his quest for lesser nodal points..., Laney had already affected the courses of municipal elections, the market in patent gene futures, abortion laws in the State of New Jersey, and the spin on an ecstatic pro-euthanasia movement (or suicide cult, depending) called Cease Upon The Midnight, not to mention the lives and careers of several dozen celebrities of various kinds."

Information as Narrative

For Laney, Rei was "some unthinkable volume of information." Laney once gazed at the idoru in a nightclub and automatically "fell through her eyes." She "induced the nodal vision in some unprecedented way; she induced it as narrative."


Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdx/597...

The Articulated Longing of/for the Infernal Desire Machine

The idoru's producer reveals that she is "the result of an array of elaborate constructs that we refer to as 'desiring machines'. Not in any literal sense, but please envision aggregates of subjective desire. It was decided that the modular array would ideally constitute an architecture of articulated longing..." (These desiring machines are reminiscent of Angela Carter's 1972 novel "The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman".)

Celebrity, Desire and Banal Intimacy

Gibson investigates the nature of celebrity and desire, in much the same way as Don Delillo in "Great Jones Street" . He describes the obsessive concern with the private lives of celebrities as “that terrible, banal intimacy". Unfortunately, the concern is reciprocated:

"It's easier to desire and pursue the attention of tens of millions of total strangers than it is to accept the love and loyalty of the people closest to us."
Profile Image for Howard.
1,072 reviews63 followers
November 21, 2022
4 Stars for Idoru: Bridge, Book 2 (audiobook) by William Gibson read by John McLain.

I love the worlds that William Gibson creates, but his plots can be hard to follow. I read Virtual Light in the 90’s a couple of times and ultimately enjoyed it. And this book is no different.
Profile Image for Mladen.
Author 20 books80 followers
July 30, 2016
Taman kada čovek pomisli da se istrošio i da period stagnacije u knjizi najavljuje dosadu, mašinerija se pokreće i ne dozvoljava da ispustite knjigu iz ruku.
Gibson ko Gibson - odličan, inspirativan, kreativan, imaginativan.
Profile Image for Bodosika Bodosika.
257 reviews47 followers
March 31, 2017
I really thought I will enjoy this but it seems too unrealistic for me barely able to finish this.
Profile Image for Thomas Stroemquist.
1,455 reviews120 followers
September 21, 2015
About half the way into this book I had a rough outline for this review in my head. It went somewhere along the lines of "if Gibson's stories sucked you in as his world descriptions do he would write the best books ever..." And that was when the story grabbed me!

So why did I rate it 4 stars and not 5? Well truth is, the hold did not last all the way through and another "problem" is the characterization. Even the main protagonists could be Idorus judging by their bleak impressions and I frequently jumped back to find out who was who.

Still; well-written, really good book and incredibly impressive almost 20 years now(!)

Profile Image for Mike.
511 reviews130 followers
February 26, 2011
Now this book I remember better than its immediate predecessor, "Virtual Light". One might guess that it is because I liked "Idoru" better than VL, but I think it is another subjective factor. From the early to end of the 90s I did a fair amount of traveling and East Asia, including Japan was where I went often. So, I suspect that familiarity with the locations and real-world culture and people helped make a stronger impression on me than people living in San Francisco (which city I have only seen from within the terminals of its airport.)

Having presented my 'mea culpa' for being human, let me say that I really liked this book and was not at all disappointed in it, as it may seem based on the goodreads average rankings that I saw when entering the title. This is a book where Gibson increasingly tangles the lines of his world and how we expect people to behave in it. Using the Japanese cult phenomenon as a starting point, he crafts another excellent and engaging tale of his future world. I think that he shows again how more inventive he is when compared to many other genre and mainstream authors.

If you chose to read his works in order, then you will benefit from his continuing evolution of his skills and ideas. Could every book stand on its own? Yes, I believe this is so, but why torture yourself?
Profile Image for Maryana Pinchuk.
27 reviews28 followers
April 7, 2016
As with Virtual Light, the selling point of this book is the setting, not so much the story. Gibson's futuristic Tokyo is not too different from present-day Tokyo, but it's still fun to walk the streets of nanotechnology-enhanced Shinjuku and feel the uncanny thrill of a place that is at once familiar and wholly strange.

And, as with Virtual Light, I found myself far more engrossed in the coming-of-age side-story than the hardboiled noire backbone on which the novel rests. Chia, the plucky teen who ventures to Tokyo to rescue her celebrity crush from the clutches of the virtual idoru, is far more compelling than Laney, who is pretty interchangeable with any other of Gibson's leading men.

For sheer ambience, I preferred the Bridge from Virtual Light, but Chia's quest through real and virtual worlds was a welcome and delightful addition to the series and made Idoru, on balance, an equally fun read.
Profile Image for Marija S..
380 reviews27 followers
June 7, 2015
I re-read it (even though there are about 50 new books that stare at me from shelves) and got reminded why I love cyberpunk and this book in particular. Why hasn't anyone filmed this yet??
1 review
March 12, 2010
Gibson is an ideas man: big on 'what', not on 'why' or 'how'. It's been said enough times that his predictions are spookily accurate. This book - written in 1996 - features many foreshadowings of the current time. A time where we hide behind an avatar, led around by geo-aware goggle-boxes. Social networks, always-on broadband, CGI pop stars (nearly).

Gibson's writing has distance. The (lethargic) characters seem behind a transparent wall; you can see but not touch. Laney - one of two protagonists - floats from one plot-point to the next. A researcher, he only wants to do his job, no funny business. Then he walks blindly into danger. Only crisis provokes life from Laney, otherwise we feel little empathy. Laney could be borrowed from a "psychological thriller": caught up in more than he can handle; blinking and naive, yet obediently following the script.

The virtual-world settings are decorated with robust detail and toyish icons, like a child's dream. In contrast, the real world is mostly austere, yet odd objects scream crude colour and novelty.

The dialogue - punchy and spare - tells most of the story. The prose is speedy and light on narrative.

Japanese words are well-explained when first introduced, but can be forgotten. Intriguing cultural references lead us to ask "is that really true?" Whether or not, the factoids are convincing enough.

There is no great mystery or conflict urging us forward, and the plot is organic: nothing quite expected or logical. But we are curious how the pieces will come together: nested virtual worlds, a hand-held nano-assembler, one naive 14-year old girl, one hired savant out of his depth, and a criminal underworld on their tail.

There is a satisfying ending with emotive appeal. But we are left feeling we intruded into the lives of strangers. Read this book for the techno-riffing or a taste of worlds to come, not for drama or characters.
Profile Image for Will Ransohoff.
64 reviews17 followers
November 1, 2016
After a few of Gibson's cyberpunk novels, I'm starting to see a pattern in the structure of his plots and the composition of his worlds. But they're enjoyable patterns and settings that I'd love to see more of, so I can't really fault him for that.

His vision of Tokyo scarred by a massive quake ("Godzilla"), and rebuilt by emergent technology is probably the most glaring similarity between this and the first book in the trilogy, Virtual Light; without having read the third, it seems like they could otherwise be standalone titles. But where Virtual Light's version of Los Angeles dealt with disaster by plodding onwards, leaving behind infrastructure that had crumbled along with those who chose to inhabit it, Idoru's Tokyo raised buildings overnight with nanotechnology and strove to pretend that nothing had happened.

I thought that was interesting, but I don't really know what to make of it; maybe the next book will shine more light on what Gibson is trying to say. Or hey, maybe I'm reading too much into a sci-fi thriller novel.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,407 reviews535 followers
August 30, 2007
A fast-paced, exciting story about the intersections of realities and identity. This is also one of the rare books that gets the mindset behind fandom. An impressive piece of cyberpunk.
Profile Image for Juan Araizaga.
646 reviews94 followers
October 1, 2019
5 días y 4000+ scrolleadas de Kindle. El primer libro que leo del autor, y justo lo iba comenzando me percate que era el segundo libro de una trilogía, nunca me pude barrer el hecho de que me hacía falta algo, y que nunca logré una interacción de ideas ni sentimientos totalmente.

A diferencia de otras novelas del curso, esta es la que tiene menos rock de casi cualquier forma, y enfocado más a la ciencia ficción y cyber punk primordialmente.

Como comentaba al principio, adentrarse a la trama no fue lo difícil, sino a los personajes. Eran tan aburridos y carentes de emoción en la trama que jamás pude conectar. Probablemente no fue la culpa del libro sino mía.

Yo amo la ciencia ficción y la sci fi, pero eato me hace un poco más objetivo a la hora de fijarme en algunos detalles que este libro no llegó a cumplir. Buenos paisajes y descripciones, pero en la parte emocional me quedó a deber.

No habrá reseña.

22 reviews6 followers
April 15, 2019
Gibson’s problem is that, like a lot of SF writers, he is more interested in things than people. This is why, as with all his novels, I gave up on Idoru half way through. Gibson is continually stopping to admire the view - the sheen on a metallic surface, the spires and landing pads of the skyline, the sumptuous tablespread of technical do-dahs. This isn’t too much of a problem for short stories (here in fact, Gibson is a master) but over the span of 300-odd pages, it soon becomes a drudgery. It feels like being led around the schematics of an architect's City of the Future, with the characters appearing every now and then as belligerent interruptions.

As for the story line, only a few months has been enough to render it vague in my mind. I think the essence of it was that a man whose job it is to analyse behavioural data has realised that the person whose life he’s been assigned to analyse is going to die. Then, as competing interests and head hunters swirl around, the usual file-swapping and private dick shenanigans ensue. Revolvers and shady businessmen in lobbies. This is the other problem with Gibson's work: once you strip away the prescient Future Shock ruminations, what you're left with is straightforward middlebrow noir, or perhaps even worse - for there's no suspense in the action, and none of the revelations are particularly strong.

What Gibson is best at, and what I wish he'd stuck to, is high-concept ideas, sparsely rendered as highly compressed reorderings of technology and instinct gone awry. Here, drama and suspense are no longer dependent on technique. They form naturally from the shortening of the plot. Gibson's futurescapes are rendered, not so much worlds, but pressured localisations, tightly wound overspills of roguish intent, human desire led astray, escalated to powers by voguish technologies and delinquent gadgets. It is, as has often been pointed out, the best of H P Lovecraft, rebooted for the internet age.

This book, coming out in 1996, comes quite a bit before the mass adoption of the net, but half the power of Gibson is in the prescience, the subtle intimations of future norms. In a world where celebs are just as likely to be SEO managed as stage managed, this book does at least get the future right (rare for any SF work, particularly one written pre-millennium). Though now we’re already there, without good characters and story, what's the use now of returning to the future as it was anticipated over 20 years ago?
Profile Image for Cathy Douglas.
329 reviews21 followers
July 18, 2010
The fact that some of the "futuristic" detailing of this story is already here and old hat wasn't lost on me, but didn't bother me either. The story world of this book is a believable take on the not-too-distant future. I loved the fantastic worlds people create together to interact online, and the way their avatars have morphed into fully-loaded alter egos. People create elaborate virtual sets and props for their meetings, parties, escapist fantasy, musical sessions, and just about everything else. I'm betting this will really happen some day, and it's going to be a hell of a lot of fun.

The gangsters, out-of-work slackers, and tech wizards you expect in this kind of book were all present and accounted for. This grunge factor is what's always turned me off about Gibson in the past; I tend to find the whole scum-bag scene too predictable. Do any of the writers who love gritty realism really function in it, writing and revising by day, hooking in flophouses and smoking opium by night? I doubt it. This time, however, I was in the mood something that could credibly mimic trashy, and Gibson is a pro. He put the usual suspects together in a way that worked, and that's what counts.

Well, almost worked. The one exception was the charmingly-named Chia Pet. I just couldn't believe that a reasonably smart teen would be stupid enough to carry some creepy-ass lady's bag through customs. She's not so naive as all that in the rest of the book, so this action seemed out of character to me.

Since the plot revolves around Rez, a rock star and celebrity of the future, it's a bit disappointing that Gibson doesn't, in the end, give us a very detailed idea of what he's really up to. Rez wants to marry what is essentially an intricately programmed hologram, but his own explanation of this decision doesn't carry much weight. Rei, the idoru, and to some extent Rez himself, end up functioning more or less as a mulligan.

Maybe it's my fault for reading only the second book of a trilogy, but I get the feeling it's more that the point of this is to explore the future world envisioned by the author.
Profile Image for Sean Wilson.
190 reviews
November 1, 2021
William Gibson's Idoru starts off a slow burner, which is great as it allows him to really delve deep into this then near-future world he has created which is not too far away from what the late 2000s actually turned out to be. It's paced perfectly and allows Gibson to explore his usual themes of emerging technology and its sociological impact, the realisation of an evolving AI in the form of a Japanese idol singer, nanotechnology and humanity's place amongst this high-tech world we find ourselves in. Another interesting theme explored is the concept of celebrity and Gibson's observations in Idoru are just as relevant today in this fame-obsessed social media world.

The novel then suffers from its abrupt change in pacing, as it becomes too much of a fast-paced thriller (a well written one at least) and contains some over-the-top Russian gangsters in search of a piece of nanotechnology being unknowingly kept by one of the main characters. At this point, I couldn't have cared less about what happened to the characters especially after the brilliant development of them over the first couple of hundred pages, which saddened me a bit. Things become manic, as if Gibson thought he had to include certain thriller elements to make it more exciting.

Luckily the book itself is written incredibly well. Gibson has a knack for describing our ultramodern world with such precision and detail, and when he dissects our highly technological world it becomes such a tense and enjoyable read.
Profile Image for serprex.
138 reviews3 followers
September 9, 2017
Not as good as Virtual Light. Tokyo setting yet the plot feels less like jap cyberpunk than Virtual Light. The VR content is cringe. One of the characters is some 14 year old girl who never actually does anything but ride around in taxies & chat with some harlot. The nodal stuff was obvious bullshit but at least on that front the author clearly understood that & subsequently used it merely as a device

WHICH REMINDS ME. I had planned out a review of this a couple weeks ago in a drunken stupor. So in college I kept all my receipts in a cupboard. Not because I was ever going to file them into any type of budgetting system, but because it'd be a mechanism of socialization whereby I could discuss an idea where the story is merely the metadata, the receipts, of the plot it describes. Laney essentialy reads a book like that _& gets it_

Somehow the 2nd paragraph of this review got into describing the rest of the other twin story & stuff, but I'm afraid I can't reconstruct those thoughts any longer
Profile Image for Jonathan Lin.
96 reviews9 followers
April 14, 2018
2018 readthrough.

This is my favourite book. I reread it every year and this year, it remains my favourite.

I love the feel of the book. So much of it reminds me of my life growing up in the Pacific Northwest. I haven't set foot in Japan as an adult. Perhaps it's time to go to Shinjuku and look for Monkey Boxing.
15 reviews
December 7, 2013
After a dip in quality with Virtual Light, Gibson returns to fine form in Idoru, with some of his most fully realized characters and a plot that speeds along quite nicely, although the novel still suffers from some of the quirks I've come to associate with Gibson.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,642 reviews268 followers
July 12, 2022
The second book of Gibson's Bridge trilogy. Colin Laney, who was in the first book, Virtual Light, a guy who can see patterns in everything. Chia McKenzie, 14 year old superfan of a band called Lo/Rez, on a mission from her fan club. Rei Toei, top virtual media star in Japan. 21st century Tokyo as imagined from the 1990s.

The lines between the virtual and the actual in the realm of celebrity.

Readers, it came true. Gibson is some kind of scary genius.
Profile Image for Christopher.
1,071 reviews24 followers
January 25, 2022
How I Married Dr. SBAITSO. -- A decent cyberpunk/SF tale on manufactured celebrity and artificial intelligence.

1996's Idoru tells the story of musician Rez (of the group Lo/Rez) who has largely stopped making music and now exists in that weird category of pseudo-celebrity where people are famous for being famous. Early on, Rez states his intention to marry Rei-Toei (the titular Idoru), a digitally constructed synthetic personality/singer. That causes lots of consternation with Rez' "people" who hire "nodal" detective Laney to figure out if this claim of marriage is real. Laney eventually crosses paths with a grouping of Rez superfans from across the globe who are also trying to figure out what's up with their crush object. Meanwhile, Laney's former employer, the TMZ-like "SlitScan" wants to expose the story for clicks.

While the plot features far more running and jumping that is strictly necessary and action has never really been Gibson's strong suit. Idoru, despite being 25 years old, feels fresher/more grounded than most other cyberpunk efforts. I think that's largely a function of the massive jump in technological innovation between the 1980s and today vs the 1990s and today (smaller jump).

Near-future concepts in 1980s cyberpunk rarely feel relevant in the 20th century because most authors of the time are trying to bring 70s-era concepts (ex: 8-tracks of the mind!) into the future. 90s cyberpunk feels a bit more grounded mostly because the technology we rely on now (cell phones, personal computers, internet, cloud storage, etc) existed back then to a large extent and clever authors were able to expand those concepts and tech out further into a near-future storyline.

Here, all the elements of pseudo-celebrity, unhealthy fan obsession, media empires that exist solely to bring down said pseudo-celebrities, and whether artificial beings can feel are addressed to varying degrees of satisfaction. What stops Idoru from being more is that these interesting questions have to be teased out of plot devices/set pieces that are a bit too runny/jumpy for their own good.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,170 reviews103 followers
February 1, 2022
I was a big fan of Gibson’s virtual light so thought I’d give the second book in the series a go and it was a huge disappointment. It is like a completely different person has written it, Gibson’s voice in virtual light was fantastic, a really gritty noir style whereas this feels like a cheap imitation. It’s tough to give this a low rating because the idea is there, social media has almost a life of it’s own, big companies are able to mine your data to find out what you plan to do and probably know more about you than you do, and a rock star has taken things a step further and plans to marry a being that only exists in virtual reality. Ya see, it does sound interesting and I’m impressed that Gibson came up with this in 1996 and it all feels pretty accurate.

So the concept is good, it’s just let down by the book. Laney is dull and I struggled to see what he brought to the story, a bit like Indiana Jones and that film where they open the melty-face-ark, the outcome wasn’t influenced by Laney and would be the same if he wasn’t there. Chai is a more interesting character but is very young and Gibson didn’t do much with her. Then we have my biggest issue, a human is marrying a virtual reality character, there could have been so much done with this, does she really exist, does she have the right to marry, does she has other rights, could they have kids virtual/real? It felt like a missed opportunity. Gibson does a good job again of predicting future technology and then he gets something wrong which makes me chuckle, still using faxes in the future.

An interesting idea for a story but it falls flat in the end, maybe it was written before it’s time or maybe it is just me being grumpy. I still recommend reading virtual light but would give this one a miss.

Blog review: https://felcherman.wordpress.com/2022...
Profile Image for saïd.
5,747 reviews489 followers
January 29, 2022
William Gibson's books are, like Neil Gaiman's after him, almost exclusively predicated on Super Cool Ideas. And the Ideas in question are indeed Super Cool; there was a Black Mirror episode with essentially the exact same concept, because Black Mirror steals nine out of ten of their "ideas" (I didn't watch the actual episode), and it was pretty popular, around two decades after Gibson's Super Cool Idea first hit the market. Anyway, this is Hatsune Miku.
Profile Image for Rob.
139 reviews
February 25, 2017
I think this is my favorite Gibson novel so far. Or it's tied with "Virtual Light." It's the combination of a fun and engaging plot, and two main characters in Chia and Laney that are easy to root for. I also found myself liking "Keithy" Blackwell. I'm not sure what it says that I like him, but there it is. LOL

Now it's on to "All Tomorrow's Parties"!
Profile Image for Randy.
366 reviews5 followers
March 20, 2015
Gibson frightens me. He claims to not be a prophet, to not predict the future, but the man sees something clearly and it's not just popular culture.

Profile Image for Derek.
548 reviews92 followers
December 26, 2011
As good as anything I've read by Gibson. I can't get enough of his vision of the future of cyberspace.
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