Apart from Distrust that Particular Flavor, this is my favourite William Gibson book. It acts as an amplifier every time I read it.
Zero History is the final novel in the Blue Ant trilogy, of which Pattern Recognition and Spook Country are its predecessors. Those books are told through the lens of Cayce Pollard and Hollis Henry, two women who engage in markets and culture as participants and critics — and whose role is the navigation of both, for the reader’s evolving understanding. They also sit in opposition AND cooperation to the book’s antagonist (of sorts), Bigend: the owner of global marketing firm Blue Ant.
Gibson uses the tension between these characters to explore: considering media, fashion, commerce, and ultimately the military industrial complex within which he came of age. Instead of situating two extremes in values, he uses the character of Bigend to articulate one vision of curiosity — a voracious one amplified by power and wealth — against that which Hollis embodies: deep and appreciative, but less consumptive. A curiosity that does not extract, but rather builds and renews.
I’ve read Zero History three or four times since it came out, and each time I get something a little different from it. Sometimes it’s about the subject matter (e.g. Fashion and secret brands), but more often, it’s a step back to think about where my own flavour of curiosity fits into the rest of the world.
It’s probably one of my favourite books overall, and one I can’t recommend enough. Read the whole series though.