By: William Gibson
Setting: Tokyo, when not in cyberspace
Idoru follows the actions of an intuitive ‘net surfer who is hired to investigate claims that one of the world’s fading rock stars is courting a Japanese virtual entertainer – the Idoru. The Idoru is an AI construct, and this gets some members of the rock star’s fan club in an uproar.
Soft, soft, soft. The idea presented here has incredible potential, but Gibson treats it as if he were writing for Tiger Beat magazine. Instead of exploring the nuances of a romance between a human being and an AI construct, we see the story from the viewpoint of a disinterested ‘net mercenary and a teeny-bopper fan of Lo/Rez, the fading international rock duo. It is interesting how the two main characters don’t meet until almost the end of the book, but instead of creating an all encompassing dual storyline, it feels like Gibson had two separate storylines and couldn’t decide which one to run with.
The book, like much of Gibson’s recent work, doesn’t carry the trademark acid rain style he made famous in Neuromancer and other innovative cyberpunk works. It seems like he is pulling back from that genre of science fiction and concentrating on lighter stories. Also, it could be that he has spawned so many cyberpunk clones (like Neal Stephenson) that his work just doesn’t seem as edgy as it used to.
To his credit, Gibson still does not make concessions to technophobes; if you do not have at least some familiarity with the internet and especially virtual worlds, parts of this book may not make much sense.
If you were turned off by Gibson’s early, darker work, you might consider giving him another chance with Idoru. If you read Gibson for the dark futures, the striking chiarscuro metaphors, the visionary insights, you may be disappointed.