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Wolfville, Nova Scotia


Pattern Recognition

Chris Campbell

One thing that I'm specifically trying to do is to read more books that aren't manuals or non-fiction. So I picked up William Gibson's Pattern Recognition a few weeks ago and started reading it. It's a bit embarrassing to admit it, but I haven't actually read a novel by Mr. Gibson before...I've read interviews, saw "Johnny Mnemonic", a great X-Files episode that he cowrote and, most recently, his blog, but never read the novels. It's one of those things that I've been meaning to do, but the longer it took, the more he wrote, and I delayed buying that first book. Being a lapsed SF geek is why I felt a twinge of guilt at not reading a bunch of the cyberpunk stuff... so what better place to start than with Gibson's latest, which isn't SF at all.
I'm about 3/5ths through it (squeezing in chapters whenever I can) and I love it. Gibson nails the texture, taste and feeling of online culture, which what you are reading is part of as well. A good novel (or film for that matter) will stike a chord with you when you recognize the elements of truth in it. The idea of a coolhunter who doesn't like having the ability is a great premise and it takes off from there. The obsessive nature of "footageheads" who seek out uploaded footage that is part of some larger and mysterious work runs through the novel as well and the intersection of our heroine and the footage is fascinating to me. The novel is making me think about my relationship with the online world, fashion, culture, etc. Maybe I like the idea of the novel because I love editing and editing a film (especially a documentary) is really about looking at a whole lot of material and recognizing patterns and then assembling them into a (hopefully) coherent whole.

I guess the other reason I'm enjoying the novel so much is that I identify with Cayce Pollard in some ways... seeing things emerge and recognizing what's coming up. My daughter Caitlin once said that I like things before they're popular. For some reason I seem to stumble into things just before they break into the wider world by noticing things that seem to fit together.

Why am I still writing? I have to go and read some more!