Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson

Lowdown: A collection of non fiction articles from a proficient futurian.
I didn’t get to a good start with William Gibson. My first attempt at Gibson-land, Zero History, turned out to be the first book I started but didn’t bother finishing on my Kindle. Yet despite the experience I suspected there is a good reason for the halo this science fiction author carries; a second chance was due, the question was what.
Into the picture steps Distrust That Particular Flavor, a collection of Gibson’s non fiction writing. It’s a smallish book, but from what I understand out of Gibson’s own introduction it encompasses all of the writer’s non fiction work, the result of his work on a genre he was reluctant to embrace.
So, what do we have on our hands with Distrust That Particular Flavor? We have ourselves some 10-15 articles grouped from sources as varied as book prefaces, music reviews and articles from magazines such as Wired. Reading these articles feels like reading an author’s blog, or for that matter my own blog: the articles vary in length, although none are particularly long; common themes, such as Japan, repeat themselves; and due to the heavy personal touch, one can learn a lot about their author by reading them.
While one cannot mistake the articles' author for not being a science fiction specialist who won his fame through futuristic depictions of the present, article topics can seem much more grounded (especially given the age of some). For example, there is the mandatory post September 11 gig and there also is an article depicting the author’s addiction to this new website called eBay. There are things to learn, such as the history of Japan and the overview of the way Singapore works, as told from a personal point of view (the latter probably qualifies as the article I’ve enjoyed the most, given the good times I’ve had at Singapore but also given the taste that place left in my mouth).
I’m afraid quality does vary, too. With some of the articles, in particular the art reviews, I had no idea what Gibson wants out of me; it reminded me again of why I dumped Zero History. Put together, the lack of a uniting theme, the varied quality and the depth of discussion reinforce the notion of Distrust That Particular Flavor being a hard bound form of a personal blog from a blog averse person.
Overall: A mixed bag of articles that, when put together, has a few more positives than negatives. 3 out of 5 stars.

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