William Gibson's Idoru is a novel thick with implications and extrapolations related to the oncoming and (present) age of electronic para-reality. Stylistically, it is far from perfect, but in theme it has a firm grasp on the concept of the simulacra as it mimics, masks and replaces reality.
Gibson's characters are rarely paintings of great depth. While I would strongly disagree with the assertion that they are archetypes cut out from a mold, I would still note that they are not particularly rich or personal. This probably derives from the author's style of writing which is the radical end of the spectrum of "showing, not telling," so that we are shown the characters' pasts, physical status, and present situations, and as readers we are to intuit the logical psychological conditions associated with those factors. Gibson has rich situations, not rich characters.
That's why I find it so strange that the New York Times Book Review wrote, "Chia is one of [Gibson's] most winning creations." I fail to understand the logic. It's as though, by making her young and in a strange situation, we're to develop an instant affinity for her. Now obviously, Gibson himself is not the one to decree that his characters are strong or weak. So it is not a flaw on the part of his writing when a reader attributes an archetype to one of his characters, but I would tend to think that, by design or simple lack of skill, Gibson writes his characters a little flat. (Which, in the context of a discussion of simulacra, makes it all the more amusingly ironic that book reviewers would attribute what they would call a "hidden" level to the quality of the writing not otherwise apparent.)
Another stylistic tool Gibson employed wa...
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...and eventually defines reality? It was a simply computer, just like Idoru was simply a novel. Yet the seashells in the make of that case serve to create a fantasy as readily and importantly as the words on paper serve to create a reality (and, paradoxically, the reality in which those seashells existed.) Simply because each is not real does not disrupt the validity of their creations, for if that were true, then the seashells would never have existed in the first place, even in our minds.
Gibson understands this closely, and Idoru does an excellent job of illustrating it. While not technically perfect, it is effective, and creates an image which is useful for us to learn from.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Gibson, William. Neuromancer. (Ace Books: New York 1984)
_____, Idoru. (Berkeley Books: New York 1996)