The 10th Book: Idoru
Idoru is the classic second of a trilogy book. The individual story is fairly fulfilling on its own, the overall plot is advanced, but since there’s a third chapter coming the second can’t give you ultimate satisfaction.
That said, Idoru may be the most coherent of Gibson’s Bridge Series. Virtual Light, which didn’t fall into the 2008 books read list, involves a lot of introductions, which gives it a slow start. All Tomorrow’s Parties layers on new characters and plot creating a frantic rush at the end. Idoru may be just right.
Idoru’s tale is typical Gibson interweaving multi-arcs, jaunting across the Pacific Rim, from Seattle to Japan. One protagonist, Colin Laney has a specific talent for data sifting. He sees “nodal points”, sort of intuitive connections of data flows and cultural happenings. The other main character, Chia, is a fangirl of the band Lo/Rez. The threads of Laney and Chia barrel towards each other as Laney is hired into Lo/Rez’s service and Chia journeys to Tokyo to find out the truth about recent band rumors. Meanwhile, Rez is bent on marrying Rei Toei, a Japanese pop-idol who just happens to be completely virtual.
A decade later, Idoru seems somewhat prescient. I read the novel as speaking on a forthcoming intersection of technology, celebrity, and fandom. Gibson was clearly extrapolating from trends in Japan, but I think we’ve seen some of the themes play out here in the United States. A young teen American girl whimsically picking up, making a trans-Pacific journey, and finding succor through pop culture fan clubs is not out of the realm of possibility. Bands who are more self-sustaining corporate entities then artistic endeavors are here. Plus they’re popularity is increasingly intermeshed with the tides of The Web. And we seem to be slouching towards purely virtual entertainers.
But to make it short and sweet, it had been a long time since I’d read Idoru. It was much better than I remembered.