Thursday, March 14, 2013

Idoru (#2 Bridge Trilogy) by William Gibson


2lst century Tokyo, after the millennial quake. Neon rain. Light everywhere blowing under any door you might try to close. Where the New Buildings, the largest in the world, erect themselves unaided, their slow rippling movements like the contractions of a sea-creature.
Colin Laney is here looking for work. He is not, he is careful to point out, a voyeur. He is an intuitive fisher of patterns of information, the "signature" a particular individual creates simply by going about the business of living. But Laney knows how to sift for the interesting (read: dangerous) bits. Which makes him very useful--to certain people. Chia McKenzie is here on a rescue mission. She's fourteen. Her idol is the singer Rez, of the band Lo/Rez. When the Seattle chapter of the Lo/Rez fan club decided that he might be in trouble, in Tokyo, they sent Chia to check it out.Rei Toei is the beautiful, entirely virtual media star adored by all Japan. The idoru. And Rez has declared that he will marry her. This is the rumor that brought Chia to Tokyo. But the things that bother Rez are not the things that bother most people. Is something different here, in the very nature of reality? Or is it that something violently New is about to happen? It's possible the idoru is as real as she wants or needs to be--or as real as Rez desires. When Colin Laney looks into her dark eyes, trying hard to think of her as no more than a hologram, he sees things he's never seen before. He sees how she might break a man's heart.And, whatever else may be true, the idoru and the powerful interests surrounding her are enough to put all their lives in danger.

 


This is not a new book by no means. Published in 1996, Idoru is the second book of William Gibson's Bridge trilogy and yet again a testimony of just how ahead of his time Gibson has been.

There is no need to read Virtual Light (#1 Bridge Trilogy) to understand 100% of this story since both novels are related by world rather than by characters. The backdrop is close enough to our own to be believable yet extrapolated enough to be very imaginative and engrossing. This makes me wonder if Idoru was Gibson's attempt at exploring that world further rather than build a fulfilling story.

I could have picked up this book without knowing the title, nor the author and would have guessed exactly who wrote it. This novel had some great concepts and thought provoking notions even though this wasn't, in my humble opinion, Gibson's best work.

Colin Laney, one of the main characters, has the most interesting ability, which to me, made this book interesting: he can decipher patterns in any information and cybernetic behavior. He is the private investigator/stalker you don't want on your tail because not only will he follow exactly what you are doing, but he may just pre-empt your behavior before you've even thought about what to do next.

The idea of Idoru, a virtual celebrity which comes to life in both cyberspace and as a 3D projection for everyone to see may be seen as some as an outdated concept. But remember people, this was published in 1996!

Skyscrapers building themselves - now how awesome would that be?

Rez, a famous singer, falls in love with the Idoru, making the perfect vessel for the classic Cyberpunk question - what is it to be human? Does the fact that she is made of pixels and lines of code make her unworthy of love, whether or not she is self-aware? What does he find in a virtual entity he couldn't find in a substantial, live woman?

I won't mention much about the character that is Chia because that is just how little her story affected me. Her character behaved at times along the deus ex machine downfall. As a reader, you are dragged through the novel wondering the entire time what she is carrying (since many dangerous and powerful people want it) , only to find out at the end of the novel under boring circumstances.

The neat concepts were the saving grace of this novel because the story itself was relatively forgettable, the beginning dragged a little (had it not been Gibson, I suspect the editor fairy would have cut all that backstory out) and the ending was extremely disappointing. All the tension built around the forsaken love between Rez and the Idoru just flops like a dead fish where the climax should have occurred. Although in essence, this novel left a trace behind, making me ponder, so I guess in that regard, Gibson succeeded.
 

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