Zero History

I’ve read many of the works of William Gibson, and although I experienced them only in retrospective (being too young at the time most of them were composed to participate in the local Zeitgeist) I believe I accurately detected the point at which he decided his vision of a possible future was less interesting than the way time actually unfolded, and decided to leave the genre which he was partially responsible for giving birth to behind.

As such, I appreciated his efforts to give his Cyberpunk stories a meaningful end, which he did by bringing his world to an end, and hinting at the nature of the world that followed it. Well and good.

I read the books he wrote after this watershed moment in which his literary direction and his previous genre diverged. But frankly I did not feel I understood them, although I could recount the events described and the new world’s premises. His themes eluded me.

After reading his latest work, Zero History, I’ve finally grasped some of them. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I now believe I recognize the significance of some of his motifs. Some thoughts:

“Wealth is a tool of freedom, but the pursuit of wealth is the path to slavery.”

Modern pseudo-Gnostics want to understand how the world functions, and the best way for them to do that is observe when some part of it fails to function and begins to self-destruct.

Does this book accomplish the same purpose as All Tomorrow’s Parties did for the Bridge trilogy?

Nascent godlings are difficult to be around.

There may always be a Taoist master in there somewhere; it’s hard to be sure.

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