Idoru – second time around

On re-reading William Gibson’s Idoru.

The second reading comes nearly sixteen years after the first. My memories of the first reading are of disappointment – it wasn’t the book I wanted it to be. I wanted the Idoru to be the central character, on stage, in view, and spent much of my time reading the book in a ‘get on with it’ frame of mind.

On second reading, knowing that the Idoru is central to the story without being a main protagonist, I could approach the story in a more relaxed manner and discover that rather than a frustrating, technical tale, it is actually a fun romp and a pleasure to read. It’s an ideal holiday book, and in true British holiday style, I read it in a day whilst the rain lashed down.

The story is told from two perspectives. Chia is a teenage fan of the band Lo/Rez, and Laney is a young man with an intuitive grasp of the patterns of online life. Both characters are engaging and sympathetic, as are most of the supporting characters.

William Gibson is known for his futuristic science fiction, full of ideas of what the future will bring. Sixteen years on, Idoru presents an alternative near future, in which the online world is overwhelmingly immersive and people still use faxes. Laney’s professional skills would still, I suspect, be in great demand in the here and now.

So, on second reading, a decade and a half after the first, I found Idoru to be an intelligent story, reaching to me both as a fan of both music and musicians, and as a fan of science and science fiction. The ending is satisfying and charmingly believable. I will make a mental note to re-read again, hopefully before 2028.

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