Sunday, December 7, 2014
I think that I may think Idoru is more hilarious than I'm supposed to. The novel has sadness and suspense in it too, but the delirious absurdity of large parts of the story is too much to be ignored and so I primarily think of it as a funny book. Most of the hilarity has to do with the Lo/Rez fan club and their silly, taken-too-seriously projects, but Laney, Yamazaki, Maryalice, and Keithy have their places in the hierarchy of humor as well.
The book takes place in a Tokyo rebuild by nanotechnology after a tremendously destructive earthquake. Nothing in this book happens on the Bridge, but it shows an alternative response to the same sort of disaster that spawned the Bridge. San Franciscans in this trilogy responded to an earthquake by building a scavenger city, Tokyo responded by rebuilding on a rigid plan but also allowing piss-stained clubs to survive. We're being shown that in spite of the post-global world Gibson is setting up there are still enormous cultural divides that people are unable to cross.
Which may be why Laney has such a rough time of it: not only is he the byproduct of being dosed with a brain-transforming chemical that turns people into psychopathic stalkers, he's moved from LA to Tokyo and can't quite get enough traction to hit the ground running. He's lost unless he's combing through data, and maybe that's what Gibson's trying to say: people are complicated and separated by cultures, but information is above those petty divides.
I guess these novels are supposed to be anti-media, and they largely are, but what they really seem to be is anti-studio: Rei is a media product but she rises above the gross sort of media produced by Slitscan and TV shows like Cops in Trouble. Gibson seems to be advocating for creation over consumption, something that I will never argue against, and I'd love to hear his opinion now on things like TMZ and reality television.
Idoru is a fun, fast read that makes you seriously examine why you believe what you see and how you came to be seeing it in the first place. It's full of people who are fun to read and places that you almost-but-don't-quite want to visit.
Gibson, William. Idoru. Berkley Books. New York. 1997. (1996)