wychwood's Reviews > Zero History

Zero History by William Gibson
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's review
Nov 13, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, sff
Read in November, 2011

I bought this in St Pancras, to while away the eight hours until my passport arrived and I could catch the Eurostar (don't leave your passport at home when you're trying to leave the country, it rarely helps). It may have benefited from the undivided attention I was therefore able to give it, but it was also engrossing enough to keep me reasonably entertained.

I absolutely adored Pattern Recognition; it's my favourite Gibson, and was one of my top ten favourites of 2006, the year I read it. Spook Country was rather disappointing in comparison, but I feel like Zero History goes some way to redeeming it; I want to read all three in sequence now, to see how they fit together, but my initial feeling is that the developments of ZH would make SC work better as well. Plus I want to see where some of the threads start! I thought Milgrim was awesome, and Hollis is definitely growing on me; I did spend the first few chapters confused because I'd forgotten that Cayce was a different person(!), although that made part of the payoff of the book even sweeter.

It wasn't perfect, by any means; I did begin to get a little fed up with the constant obsession with brand names, which started sounding a little false after a while. Cayce has reasons to notice, but it seems like every single character does so. And while I know that it's a feature that Bigend is fantastically wealthy and likes to do weird things with the money, it did grate somewhat; I spent part of the day trying to find out how much it would cost to courier my passport to me, and it is really not as easy as Gibson makes it sound! I expect the superrich do things like that without thinking, but the characters aren't superrich themselves, and they seem to adjust to it in a way I wasn't really comfortable with. It's a very, hm, one-percent-ish mindset. Similarly, I do like the quirkiness they always end up encountering, but it does sometimes end up feeling as though Gibson is trying too hard; not everything should be that unique and weird.

But despite all of that, I really did enjoy the book. It kept me thoroughly entertained when I needed it (and reading Hollis and Milgrim's extended musings on St Pancras and Eurostar while sitting in the terminal had an appropriate weirdness to it!), and it felt like a really good resolution to the trilogy. I definitely want to come back and look at all of this series again.

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