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Zero History by William Gibson
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Zero History (original 2010; edition 2010)

by William Gibson

Series: Blue Ant (3)

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1,611554,509 (3.86)46
Member:brianeisley
Title:Zero History
Authors:William Gibson
Info:Putnam Adult (2010), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, signed

Work details

Zero History by William Gibson (2010)

  1. 40
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    PghDragonMan: A new cycle of work from a master of future prediction.
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» See also 46 mentions

English (54)  French (1)  All languages (55)
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
A very strange urban fiction book (close but not quite sci-fi). Challenging to keep up with. Just when I think I'm getting a handle on the plot, it jumps again. Maddening, but couldn't abandon. ( )
  skraft001 | Apr 8, 2016 |
Hollis Henry, an ex-punk rockstar, is called in to do another job for Hubertus Bigend and his PR company Blue Ant. This time, he wants her find out who designs a particularly underground clothing label. Assisting her will be Milgrim, the ex-junkie who can translate Russian (this is seriously his only skill, but given that Hollis has no skills at all, it's a step up). They wander Europe on Blue Ant's obscenely expansive expense account asking people about the clothing label. This is literally the entirety of their plan: to walk up to other clothing designers and ask them if they know about this underground label. Over and over again. It doesn't result in much plot or dialog, but it does give Gibson an excuse to describe, ad nauseum, the outfit of every single character in every single scene. Around page 300 Gibson seems to recollect that books require plots, and randomly there's a kidnapping. Hollis and Milgrim are, as in everything, useless in getting their kidnapped colleague back. Somehow, Hollis's boyfriend turns up with a plan. Random coincidences occur, everyone speaks in clipped non-sequitors, and the kidnapped colleague gets free.

I never knew what was happening or why I should care, nor did I like any of the characters*, no matter how cool their haircuts and boots (although apparently their hair and boots are very cool indeed. Gibson expends a great deal of effort and page space reminding us of this). It's a terrible, dull book. Gibson was known for his prescient views of the future, but given that every page is a list of brandnames, his current stories will seem dated very quickly. Skip this series.



*Actually, I quite enjoyed Heidi, Hollis's former drummer and a physically fearless bad-ass. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
You know how some authors take special care with the opening line of their novel, making sure that it's catchy and well-crafted, giving it a 'hook'?
Gibson's writing is like that all the way through. It's not just a veneer of style on top - nearly every single paragraph contains some adroit turn of phrase, some new and startlingly fresh way of looking at an ordinary detail, and/or a thought-provoking idea.
I think Gibson could write about any topic at all and make it fascinating. I mean, if you'd asked me if I'd be thrilled to read a book about fashion marketing it's doubtful that I'd say yes. But this is a fantastic book. Like all of Gibson's books. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This is my second William Gibson book. Probably my last due to not liking either one. I "should" like it ... but I find the writing style and content not worth the effort. There are plenty of great books in the world ... I'll pass on these. ( )
  deldevries | Jan 31, 2016 |
The third book in a loose trilogy by cyberpunk legend Gibson, author of Neuromancer and Mona Lisa Overdrive, Zero History is set in the present, a snapshot of the world as it was last week, but with that sci-fi sheen of cutting-edge cool that only Gibson ‘s unique vision can impart. Advertising agencies, fashion shows, motor-cycle couriers, military fashion and industrial espionage are all combined in a book that’s as much a sly comedy as a clever thriller.

Hollis Henry, an ex-drummer who lost most of her money in the crash and hasn’t seen her boyfriend since he jumped off the world’s tallest building in Dubai, finds herself grudgingly working for Hubertus Bigend, the brilliantly-named zeitgeist-surfing millionaire with his fingers in many pies. Now he has has eye designing uniforms for the military and the lucrative streetwear market that goes with it. Milgrim is also working for Bigend too. He lost ten years of his life to prescription drugs. Detoxed and reinvented, he translates and runs errands and never asks questions.

Hollis and Milgrim are set the task of tracking down the designer of a mysterious line of denim clothing. Bigend is curious about the secretive tactics of ‘anti-branding.’ Hollis is having second thoughts about the whole thing, and Milgrim is wondering why he’s being followed by a US agent who is sending him messages over a Twitter account. Rival designers with ex-military connections are unimpressed with Bigend’s end run for military contracts and set out to remove the competition, and Milgrim and Hollis soon find themselves embroiled in a tense, dangerous game of cat and mouse.

Set mostly in London,with quick trips to Paris and the US, Zero History is a novel of slick, clean surfaces, ubiquitous brand-names and evolving technologies. It is a comedy, a thriller, and a portrait of the utter strangeness of the modern world. And it’s a damn good read. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 54 (next | show all)
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 editionsconfirmed
LaRoche, NicoleCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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