Like a lot of people the first book I ever read by William Gibson was Neuromancer and I still look back on that experience 25 years ago with relish and fondness. It was the hippest book I'd read up to that point and continued to be the hippest book I'd ever read until Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson appeared out of the publishing matrix.
There is a rawness to early books by great writers that sizzles and marinates the brain in beautiful technicolors. I can feel the energy and excitement that the writer is conveying through his exploration of our language to express himself. As a writer gets older and becomes a craftsman the writing becomes so much more exquisite, crisp and clinical. Gibson is confident with where he is going and how he is going to take the reader there, but that does create a victim. The raw energy that drove his early books has been harnessed and the energy that used to be expended running hither and yon is now being held to the plow line. What we miss now is seeing that greener pasture or glimpsing that mountain stream that is just over the next hill.
Zero History is really about clothes and the characters populating the novel are cutting edge cool. The type of people that when they walk in somewhere everybody thinks I want to look like that. I want TO BE that person and I'm really only the right pair of boots or an ultra cool haircut away from being one of those people.
Gibson is a great writer and from reading the afterward he had some really talented manuscript readers. This book is almost too precise. The conversations are all short and perfect. The plot pulls you along without a bump. I never had to stop and think about anything. The characters were all so calm that I would swear they all just graduated from a Zen monastery. I felt no tension, no anxiety for the characters because everything always seemed like it was perfectly under control.
I enjoyed reading this book because I like hanging out with hip, smart people. I won't remember much about this book in five years and probably little or nothing after ten, but if I decided to pull it off the shelf and read it again I would enjoy it for all the same reasons as I did this time.
What I want from William Gibson is another vision of the future. I don't want a rehash of Neuromancer. I want the raw fever that conjurers up a future that I can barely wrap my head around. I want to have to stop reading and take a nap so my brain can catch up and process where he is taking me. I want the NEXT BEST THING and that is something that I believe Gibson is capable of giving us if only he would push himself and let that raw energy burn him up again. Let the horse go Mr. Gibson let the reins out and let him run.