Wandering the Mirror-World: Pattern Recognition

July 25, 2007

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Lest you think I read nothing but books in digital format, I just picked up William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition in good-old-fashioned paperback. It’s been waiting on my shelves for some years, and my recent completion of One Hundred Years of Solitude left an opening for those moments when I want or need to read sans gadgetry.

Gibson creates immersion. Each time I unseal the book’s pages, I feel a distinct shift as I enter its otherworld — heroine Cayce Pollard’s obsessive, design-centric existence. Intensifying the effect, hers is a kind of mirror-world of mine. Like Cayce, I’ve sat in meetings in over-designed design offices, with their softly glowing walls and self-consciously minimalist splashes of color on mono — where accent-inflected Euromales and hard-visaged New York femmes defined fashion solely in shades of black. I felt like I was wandering vaguely wide-eyed in an alternate universe then, and revisiting through Cayce’s eyes is like seeing it mirror-on-mirror, an endlessly-engrossing recursion.

More on this as the story develops.


  1. Ah, Neuromancer was something of an event, as I remember it. It led to quite the cyberpunk rampage in my reading list. Haven’t read anything else by him though. Do post your thoughts when you complete the book.

  2. I’m one-fourth of the way through, and I have to say it’s fascinating so far. His characters are textured and layered, complete… and the narrative is developing in intriguing and wholly unpredictable ways. I believe his next book, Spook Country, is due out any day now.

  3. Gibson is one of my favorite writers – I’ve picked up both Pattern Recognition and Spook Country in hardback, something I don’t know I’ve done with any other author. (I’m a sucker for paperbacks.)

    His later writing is, to me, more accessible than some of the earlier ones. I still need to go back and finish Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive again – it’s been too long – but I can’t wait to dig into Spook Country.

    Enjoy Pattern Recognition – it’s one of my favorites of his.

  4. I’ve read Mona Lisa Overdrive, but I somehow missed Neuromancer. It’s such a seminal work, I feel like I have to read it.

  5. Hey, I am a student of English Literature and I recently picked up pattern recognition. I have to admit that Gibson is just brilliant and so far I’ve found this book a very intelligent read.
    But as I don’t have much of a “technological background”, I am unable to understand certain things. Like what exactly does he mean by “mirror-world”. Does this have any thing to do with David Galernter’s book Mirror Worlds?

  6. For me, “mirror world” evokes the feeling I get when I go to another country which seems very similar in many ways to home but with odd discrepancies that jar me into awareness of its differentness. Starbucks in Bangkok looks like Starbucks in London which is much like Starbucks in Houston — same logo, same interior design, same menu… or is it? Not quite… while the menu is familiar at first glance, a more careful look reveals differences that make the whole place suddenly feel different, a bit disorienting… perhaps like looking at the world in a fun-house mirror?

  7. […] return from the mirror world with a surnburnt nose/forehead combo; a bag bulging with books, papers and wallcharts; and a brain […]

  8. Hy,
    I see that you are interested about Pattern recognition.
    Doing my research I find several books about it in field of Techniques, Segmentation, Technology and Applications.
    A wealth of advanced pattern recognition algorithms are emerging from the inter discipline between technologies of effective visual features and the human-brain cognition process.
    The present books are intended to collect representative researches around the globe focusing on low-level vision, filter design, features and image descriptors, data mining and analysis, and biologically inspired algorithms.
    Research in computer vision has exponentially increased in the last two decades due to the availability of cheap cameras and fast processors.

    This is the link : http://www.intechopen.com/search/?q=Books:%20Pattern%20recognition
    Books are free to download.

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