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Zero History by William Gibson
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Zero History (2010)

by William Gibson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Blue Ant (3)

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1,809615,550 (3.83)52
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English (60)  French (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
I sometimes get lost trying to determine what some of the descriptive words Gibson uses mean, but that's a good thing.
Much as I enjoyed this trilogy though, I do wish he would return to his cyberpunk roots again. ( )
  Eternal.Optimist | Aug 22, 2018 |
I had started this book and then found out that it is considered the 3rd in the Blue Ant series, so I put it down until I had read the other ones, and I'm glad I did. It took me a while to get used to Gibson's style of writing, but by this book I was ready to be as in the dark about all the moving parts as the main characters were. I also realized, when I restarted it, that the characters continued through from the last book and occasionally from the first in the series. I really liked how everything tied together across the three books.
  GretchenLynn | Mar 5, 2018 |
A pretty good read, a thriller set in the present (or a slightly SF version of same). Gibson seems to be becoming ever-more-intrigued with brand names and the minutiae of collectors' obsession, to the detriment of his books I think. In his early novels this manifested in the makes and models of imaginary guns, then there was a foray into watch collecting, and now it's men's streetwear and the rarefied world of limited-edition underground jeans. Not on the face of it a promising foundation for a thriller plot. Also I noticed an awful lot of characters explaining the plot to each other so the reader can keep up. ( )
  adzebill | Nov 17, 2017 |
I had real trouble becoming engaged in this book. So far, I've made 2 attempts at reading it and quit before page 70. Maybe just not my type of genre? ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Jun 18, 2017 |
For many of us, William Gibson set a new standard. We had never read anything like “Johnny Mnemonic” or Neuromancer, and we began devouring anything Gibson printed. While nothing quite equaled those first shots (what would?) the follow ups continued a tradition of excellence that kept us coming back for more.

I don’t know if he is in a lull, if age has brought on less freshness of ideas, or time is catching up with his innnovations, but any of these could be a possible reason for the near miss that is this novel.

As is usual with a Gibson novel, a plot synopsis is not particularly useful. There are syndicates involved and individuals who have found themselves part of those syndicates. In the case of Milgrim, he is, effectively, an experiment by Hubertus Bigend who wants to see what he can do with this person (Milgrim) after he dries him out. Milgrim is partnered with Hollis Henry who has worked for Bigend before, swearing never to again, but we all know how those swearings go.

And what it is the big pursuit, why have these protagonists, antagonists, and culprits been brought together to help us spend our time reading this novel? Fashion.

Now, Gibson has some interesting things to say in the area, and the pursuit of a secret brand drives the novel perfectly well...except…well, fashion?

This is where the novel lost me completely. Fantastic writing, no doubt. Gibson draws interesting people and tells a compelling story. But…fashion?

(I am reminded of the joke about Stephen King when he is trying to come up with an idea for a story. “Let’s see what’s on my desk. A lamp. Ooooo, a haunted lamp. Scary.”)

But let’s skip that whole “fashion” issue. Another problem with this book is it feels dated. A lot of time is spent explaining Twitter and other social media tropes to Milgrim. In addition, a lot of time was spent explaining drones. Now, Milgrim has effectively lost much of his past, and that might explain why explanations are necessary. But, since the book was published in 2010, Gibson may have felt the need to provide the explanations for his readers.

Which gets to another interesting point. Gibson is most successful when he explores a future that seems to be just around the corner, but will really take a little more technology than we know about right now. In this case, he may have shot for a future that wasn’t “future” enough. In fact, at times, I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be future or present day. It didn’t work as either.

Again, excellent writing. And his eye for detail – explaining and describing situations and environments that we might never experience – continues to be unsurpassed. But the novel itself took forever to really move forward (part way through I was tempted to just give up, and if it hadn’t been for a long flight where I had no other alternatives, I might have actually done it) and once it does move, you still wonder why you are supposed to care.

Definitely not a must read. And probably only read if you are a Gibson completest. ( )
  figre | Jun 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
"Instead, it feels as if Gibson is going through the motions, as if he's gone back to the pattern once too often, setting up a story — centered by Hollis' efforts to find that designer — that we've seen before."
 
"His trenchant scrutiny of society and culture, and the relentless precision of his prose force us to see his world (and ours) with a troubling exactitude and an extra dose of unease."
 
"To read Gibson is to read the present as if it were the future, because it seems the present is becoming the future faster than it is becoming the past."
 
"What matters are the highly textured, brilliantly evocative prose and the stunning insights Gibson offers into what we perceive as the present moment—the implication being, per the title, that's all we have left."
added by bookfitz | editKirkus Reviews (Jul 15, 2010)
 
This flatness is the strangest feature of the world of Zero History, and more generally of the trilogy it completes. There's no question that, taken together, these three books represent one of the first great novels of 21st-century data culture. But there's no dirt in view – no muss. The cities of Neuromancer were crumbling into a kipple of obsolete technology, litter and grime. Cyberspace – clean, rational, clutterless – offered an alternative reality for those with the skills and the technology to gain access, while the wealthy could escape to exclusive orbital country-club cantons. Now that the future is here, Gibson's readers, like his protagonists, seem condemned to cities that are all surface, while yearning for a glimpse of something seedier, stickier, more troubling.
 

» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
William Gibsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
LaRoche, NicoleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To Susan Allison, my editor.
First words
Inchmale hailed a cab for her, the kind that had always been black, when she'd first known this city.
Quotations
"But that's exactly it. Because they 'understand all that', they won't find the edge. They won't find the new. And worse, they'll trample on it, inadvertently crush it, beneath a certain mediocrity inherent in professional competence." [Hubertus Bigend: 24]
Reading, his therapist had suggested, had likely been his first drug. [Milgrim: 93]
She always found it peculiar to encounter a time she had actually lived through rendered as a period. It made her wonder whether she was living through another one, and if so, what it would be called. [Hollis Henry: 102]
There was something inherently cheerful about the buoyancy of a balloon, he thought. It must have been a wonderful day when they first discovered buoyant gases. He wondered what they'd put them in. Varnished silk, he guessed, for some reason picturing the courtyard at the Salon du Vintage. [Milgrim: 376]
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Former rock singer Hollis Henry and ex-addict Milgrim, an accomplished linguist, are at the front line of a sinister proprietor's attempts to get a slice of the military budget. When a Department of Defense contract for combat-wear turns out to be the gateway drug for arms dealers, they gradually realize their employer has some very dangerous competitors--including Garreth, a ruthless ex-military officer with lots of friends. Set largely in London after our post-Crash times.… (more)

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