Review: Zero History

Zero History
Zero History by William Gibson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here’s the thing about William Gibson, I think–either you’re along for the ride, or you’re not. I find it difficult to talk about his books in the same terms I use to talk about other books. I’m often annoyed by the way his characters speak to one another–cryptically, abruptly, in non-sequiturs. I’m often annoyed by the things his characters do–sometimes seemingly driven, not by their own motivations, but by the necessities of the plot.

And yet…I’ve really enjoyed the Blue Ant books (Spook Country, Pattern Recognition, Zero History). There’s something about them that I can’t really put my finger on. It’s not always easy to describe what they’re about–or, it *is* easy to describe at least what’s happening on the surface, but they don’t sound at all interesting in those terms. There are admittedly long sections where nothing much of import seems to be happening. There are also sections where things are happening, but you can’t see any sense in them, or how they relate to the plot–or what you thought was the plot.

But for some reason, I find them incredibly engaging. I *want* to keep reading, to see what Gibson has up his sleeve, or what he’s driving at, and what’s going to happen to these characters in the end. Maybe it’s the glimpse at a world that is so like ours as to be almost indistinguishable, and yet that seems to be separated from ours by the thinnest of membranes. Maybe it’s Gibson’s writing style, although I don’t always like that–I haven’t been able to read “The Difference Engine” no matter how much I’d like to. Maybe it’s…ah, heck, I don’t know. I can’t explain it. I certainly couldn’t duplicate it. But I know that if there’s another one, I’ll be reading it.

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