cover image Zero History

Zero History

William Gibson, Putnam, $26.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-399-15682-3

Opposing forces contend violently over what are in the end ephemeral trivialities, the minutiae of modern fashion, in Gibson's quirky tale of 21st-century brand positioning. The attention of eccentric financial genius Hubertus Bigend, seen previously in Pattern Recognition and Spook Country, has landed on military fashion, a field he believes is immune to the vagaries of the market. When an unusual pair of mil-chic trousers raises the possibility that the anonymous designer is copying Bigend's new obsession, Bigend dispatches his team of talented amateurs to investigate the source of the suspiciously au courant trousers. Bigend's competition turns out to be none other than Michael Preston Gracie, an ex-military officer whose unwarranted self-confidence is rivaled only by his ruthlessness. Gibson's style has become even more distilled, more austere, since his science fiction days. Inanimate objects and, in particular, the brands of those objects, are more fully illuminated than the characters using those brands. (Sept.)