Advertising consultant Cayce Pollard, who reacts to logos and advertising as if to an allergen, arrives in London in August 2002. She is working on a contract with the marketing firm Blue Ant to judge the effectiveness of a proposed corporate logo for a shoe company. During the presentation,... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Advertising consultant Cayce Pollard, who reacts to logos and advertising as if to an allergen, arrives in London in August 2002. She is working on a contract with the marketing firm Blue Ant to judge the effectiveness of a proposed corporate logo for a shoe company. During the presentation, graphic designer Dorotea Benedetti acts hostile towards Cayce as she rejects the first proposal. After dinner with some Blue Ant employees, the company founder Hubertus Bigend offers Cayce a new contract: to uncover who is responsible for distributing a series of anonymous, artistic film clips via the internet. Cayce had been following the film clips and participating in an online discussion forum theorizing on the clips’ meaning, setting, and other aspects. Wary of corrupting the artistic process and mystery of the clips, she reluctantly accepts.
A friend, named Parkaboy, from the discussion group privately emails her saying a friend of a friend has discovered an encrypted watermark on one clip. They concoct a fake persona, a young woman named Keiko, to seduce the Japanese man who knows the watermark code. Cayce, along with an American computer security specialist, Boone Chu, hired to assist her, travels to Tokyo to meet the man and retrieve the watermark code. Two men attempt to steal the code but Cayce escapes and travels back to London. Boone travels to Columbus, Ohio to investigate the company that he believes created the watermark. Meanwhile, Blue Ant hires Dorotea who reveals that she was previously employed by a Russian lawyer whose clients have been investigating Cayce. The clients wanted Cayce to refuse the job of tracking the film clips and it was Dorotea's responsibility to ensure this.
Through social connections in London, Cayce meets Voytek Biroshak and Ngemi, dealers of antique calculators. One of their clients, Hobbs Baranov, is a retired cryptographer and mathematician with connections in the American National Security Agency. Cayce strikes a deal with him: she buys a Curta calculator for him and he finds the email address to which the watermark code was sent. Using this email address Cayce makes contact with Stella Volkova whose sister Nora is the maker of the film clips.
Cayce flies to Moscow to meet Stella in person and watch Nora work. Nora is brain damaged from an assassination attempt and can only express herself through film. At her hotel, Cayce is intercepted and drugged by Dorotea and wakes up in a mysterious prison facility. Cayce escapes; exhausted, disoriented and lost, she nearly collapses as Parkaboy, who upon Cayce’s request was flown to Moscow, retrieves her and brings her to the prison where the film is processed. There Hubertus, Stella and Nora’s uncle Andrei, and security employees Wiktor Marchwinska-Wyrwal and Sergei Magomedov are waiting for her. Over dinner with Cayce, the Russians reveal that they have been spying on her since she posted to a discussion forum speculating that the clips may be controlled by the Russian Mafia. They had let her track the clips to expose any security breaches in their distribution network. The Russians surrender all the information they had collected on her father’s disappearance and the book ends with Cayce coming to terms with his absence while in Paris with Parkaboy, aka Peter Gilbert.
“He took a duck in the face at 250 knots”
Homo sapiens is about pattern recognition, he says. Both a gift and a trap.Highlighted by 89 Kindle customers
Paranoia, he said, was fundamentally egocentric, and every conspiracy theory served in some way to aggrandize the believer.Highlighted by 73 Kindle customers
Apophenia, Win had declared it, after due consideration and in his careful way: the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness in unrelated things.Highlighted by 67 Kindle customers
“It’s more the way it is now than it’s ever been,”Highlighted by 66 Kindle customers
“We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition.”Highlighted by 61 Kindle customers
Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which ‘now’ was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient ‘now’ to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile.”Highlighted by 59 Kindle customers
It’s as though the creative process is no longer contained within an individual skull, if indeed it ever was. Everything, today, is to some extent the reflection of something else.”Highlighted by 46 Kindle customers
“What I mean is, no customers, no cool. It’s about a group behavior pattern around a particular class of object. What I do is pattern recognition. I try to recognize a pattern before anyone else does.”Highlighted by 39 Kindle customers
She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.Highlighted by 38 Kindle customers
Far more creativity, today, goes into the marketing of products than into the products themselves, athletic shoes or feature films. That is why I founded Blue Ant: that one simple recognition. In that regard alone, the footage is a work of proven genius.”Highlighted by 38 Kindle customers
1. THE WEBSITE OF DREADFUL NIGHT
3. THE ATTACHMENT
4. MATH GRENADES
5. WHAT THEY DESERVE
6. THE MATCH FACTORY
7. THE PROPOSITION
10. JACK MOVES, JAME FACES
11. BOONE CHU
13. LITTLE BOAT
14. THE GAIJIN FACE OF BIKKLE
16. GOING MOBILE
17. MAKING MAYHEM
19. INTO THE MYSTIC
21. THE DEAD REMEMBER
27. THE SHAPE OF THE ENTHUSIAST
28. WITHIN THE MEANING
31. THE PROTOTYPE
32. PARTICIPATION MYSTIQUE
36. THE DIG
39. BED DUST
40. THE DREAM ACADEMY
41. A TOAST TO MR. POLLARD
42. HIS MISSINGNISS
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