preview

Idoru, by William Gibson

In Idoru, by William Gibson, the idoru is more human than Laney. Rei Toei, the idoru, is a completely virtual media star, a synthespian. Laney is a quantitative analyst with a concentration deficit that he can adjust "into a state of pathological hyperfocus," thus enabling him to be "an extremely good researcher" (Gibson 30). Growing up in the Gainesville Federal Orphanage, Laney inadvertently restricted control over his future identity. Only considering the program's rewards, he voluntarily participated in a series of experimental drug tests. Many of the tests included the substance 5-SB, which "tends to turn males into fixated homicidal stalkers" (Gibson 174). Laney doesn't feel he has a choice to change his situation and simply follows whatever path is given to him. Although Rei Toei, the idoru, doesn't always understand the consequences of actions, she nevertheless consciously shapes her own identity.

When interviewing for a job at Slitscan, the interviewer insults Laney's clothing, referring to the stitch-count. Later, when he is working for another company, the same interviewer tries to blackmail him into returning to Slitscan, taunting him with the "stitch-count" remark (Gibson 287). This comment shows that Laney hasn't made an active attempt to shape his own identity. His wardrobe is determined for him, for example, when buying new shirts he thinks people at Slitscan wear (Gibson 49). Later he falls asleep in the clothes Rydell picked out for him at a local store (Gibson 95). Again, he did not choose his wardrobe, but allowed others to decide for him. Even when Laney makes a decision, he doesn't feel responsible. He is only following the overwhelming pull of gravity, much like following...

... middle of paper ...

...ust information. Everywhere they go, all their actions are watched and recorded. Living things generate data of a higher complexity than nonliving things, such as a corporation. The Lo/Rez corporation that orchestrates Rez's life controls the data he produces, thus no nodal points can exist. To Laney, Rez just "doesn't seem to do anything," but when viewing the idoru's data "she seems to like to do things" (Gibson 359). Rei generates her data herself, and Laney can see nodal points in that information, therefore she must, in a sense, be living.

The way the book alternates plotlines by chapter, and jumps around subjects within each chapter, gives me a feel for how Laney's concentration deficit might allow him to jump around seemingly unrelated data until he finds the angle at which it all blends together to form a complete picture.
Get Access