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Idoru
William Gibson
Berkley Books, 383 pages

Idoru
William Gibson
William Gibson was born in Conway, South Carolina, spent his childhood in southwestern Virginia, and left the United States for Canada when he was nineteen. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife and their two children. His first novel, Neuromancer, won the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award in 1984. He is also the author of Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Burning Chrome, and Virtual Light.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Idoru
Bibliography/Mediagraphy
alt.cyberpunk FAQ
Blue Shift on Cyberpunk
An Interview with William Gibson
William Gibson's Home Page

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Leon Olszewski

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When an American rock star, Rez, announces that he is going to marry Rei Toei, it sets into motion people and events which threaten to consume the two of them, as well as those around them. For Rei Toei is an idoru, a media star who exists only in virtual reality. The story is told alternately from the points of view of Colin Laney and Chia McKenzie. Through their eyes we learn about Rez and his holographic girlfriend.

Colin Laney is hired by Rez's head of security to find who may have influenced Rez. Colin is able to sift through information to find relationships which normally would not be discerned.

He had a peculiar knack with data-collection architectures, and a medically documented concentration-deficit that he could toggle, under certain circumstances, into a state of pathological hyperfocus.
The relevant data, in terms of his current employability, was that he was an intuitive fisher of patterns of information: of the sort of signature a particular individual inadvertently created in the net as he or she went about the mundane yet endlessly multiplex business of life in a digital society. Laney's concentration-deficit, too slight to register on some scales, made him a natural channel-zapper, shifting from program to program, from database to database, from platform to platform, in a way that was, well, intuitive.
His previous job ended with the suicide of a young woman whom he had been analyzing. Gibson uses Colin's part of the first half of the book to tell us about Colin's previous job and where it had gone wrong.

Chia McKenzie is a fourteen year old member of the Seattle chapter of the Lo/Rez fan club. She has been selected to track down the rumor of the announced marriage. Traveling to Japan, she is conned into smuggling contraband. She manages to get away and connects up with the Tokyo chapter. Chapter meetings are held in virtual reality, in carefully designed meeting locales.

Both Colin and Chia try to unravel the mystery surrounding Rez, each from their own direction. In both cases, events in their own lives complicate the goal. To go much farther would reveal too much of the plot.

Idoru is typical William Gibson. It takes place in the future -- close enough to be recognizable, yet far enough that today's trends have taken on a life of their own. He takes us on a tour from the very bottom of society, where extortion and maiming are commonplace, to the top, where pop and media stars spend their time. Yet in some ways, this novel is not as richly textured as some of Gibson's past works. His early novels painted a scene unlike those of any other writer at the time. Gibson had to provide not only the plot, characters, and scene, but also the details of the background, to make it understandable and believable. The wonder of his earlier work was to extrapolate from our current fashions and metamorphose them into something new and seemingly unexpected. Now that the place is known (via his other novels), perhaps he has decided to leave some of the imagery to us.

This is not to say that readers will not find wonders. Gibson is still able to take virtual reality, computer networks, nanotechnology, and pop star worship, temper them with human strengths and frailty, to evoke new images and unforeseen conclusions.

One problem with the novel is that the back story of Colin takes a long time to be told, and then it has little bearing on the rest of the plot. As a result, the first half of the book seems to drag, and it's difficult to become interested in the characters. The last half of the book, however, kept my attention.

Copyright © 1997 by Leon Olszewski

Leon Olszewski has read science fiction and fantasy for most of his life. He works at Spyglass, Inc. as their Manager of Network Services.


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