Monday, December 15, 2014
There's an oddly distorted pattern in these trilogies: they start with a crescendo in the first novel, build to another, and then fizzle out when it comes time to close. The second novel in the series usually seems more like a part one for the third novel than a book that stands on its own, and the third one always has something completely awesome that happens toward the middle instead of at the end. I guess the Bridge Trilogy escapes that pattern because it has the burning of the bridge at the end of the third book, but the Blue Ant Trilogy has this same semi-disappointing pattern.
As usual with Gibson Zero History isn't bad so much as it's unfulfilled. Yes, there's a big cathartic action scene and we're given the wrap-up with all our favorite characters. But it almost feels like we're looking at the wrong characters. By the end of the book I don't care so much about Hollis and Garreth, I'm more interested in finding out everything there is to know about Heidi. She's set up as this frustrating blank character in Spook Country but then usurps the place of main character in Zero History but you still don't know much about her aside from her horrible taste in men and her ability to kick absolute ass.
But probably the most irksome thing about Zero History is that the nothing-happens-but-everything-changes bit at the end doesn't give us the money shot with everything changing. In the Sprawl Trilogy we see that humans and AI are starting to become interchangeable intelligences, in the Bridge Trilogy we get a shot of Rei Toei walking out of Lucky Dragons all over the world, but in the Blue Ant Trilogy all you're left with is the vague sense that Bigend doesn't know what he's doing but controls the world anyway. It's disconcerting as all fuck (probably intentionally) but it doesn't have the same sense of reality or possibility or hope that the other trilogies sign off on.
Maybe that has to do with what Zero History is all about - there is no history, history is dead and it's a fiction anyway, so all we can do is look to the future and the future is (as it ever is) vague and vaguely unsettling.
Gibson, William. Zero History. Putnam. New York: New York. 2010.