Zero History is the third of the Blue Ant series by Gibson (who is called by a commenter on Goodreads the “Jay-Z of his generation of science fiction writers”), and I am guessing the wrap-up, as Hubertus Bigend (pronounced by most folks like the French word it is) and Milgrim finish the novel skipping off the ocean (not literally, but sort of) in an ekranoplan. Some thoughts:
- There are not many authors who can write a novel about fashion and secret branding that will keep me interested, let alone turning the pages more quickly than I should in order to find out what happens.
- His ability to describe detail in fascinating, witty, and astonishing ways does not fade. He violates the writer’s rule all the time by telling way more than he shows, but man, he does it so beautifully that I keep reading.
- Zero History as a title feels a bit misleading, since the novel features lots of history of brand design in unfolding its plot, and the characters all have history with each other. My guess is that the zero history comes in the idea of secret branding, which fits closely with what Gibson features in other novels: underground economies, avoiding corporate control, producing beautiful design and through them art.
- I am really curious about Milgrim and should probably re-read the first two novels in the series – I think he is Gibson’s attempt to produce a character who is able to chameleon around several of the issues that fascinate Gibson – addiction, cool-hunting, idiot savant art and design.
- In some ways Gibson’s novels feel so light and airy anymore that they threaten to float away, like the surveillance balloons the characters in this novels use. Happy endings happen, for instance, and lots of folks are able to make lots of money and stay afloat in this nether economy.
- My response, though, is that I enjoy reading these novels for this very reason – creating a dystopia is easy – looking at the world through the lens of it incrementally improving the ways in which most people live their lives, and doing so through art and non-corporate ways, feels much more difficult.