William Gibson’s “Idoru”

"Idoru" by William Gibson on Amazon.

“Idoru” by William Gibson on Amazon

***Special guest post by nichan***

The other day while I was trying to think of what to do a review of this week, a certain title popped into my head: “Idoru” by William Gibson.

…Admittedly, I haven’t read it in a few years, so this isn’t going to be a review so much as a confused, vague, and quite possibly inaccurate recollection.

I found this book in one of those half-off bookstores way back in what I think was early high school (mid-90s). I wasn’t into Asian stuff just yet; I was more into Tom Clancy and the Cold War and right on the jagged edge of a very, very, very hardcore obsession with Vladimir Nabakov’s “Lolita”. …So “Idoru” kind’ve caught me off-guard.

It’s two somewhat disconnected stories going on at the same time in the same book. One story is about… something. I honestly can’t remember. Pretty sure it was about a guy who does what Google does: he scans the internet and inexplicably puts together random shreds and hits and blips of information in order to envision the bigger picture. And this book was written pre-Google, too. If you weren’t around pre-Google, maybe you don’t know how epic of a concept this was at the time. You see, you couldn’t always just type in a word or two and get necessarily the most coherent of results. AltaVista, Lycos, Dogpile, Mamma, Copernic, HotBot, and all the rest gave you interesting replies to your searches, but it wasn’t anything like Google suddenly going, “Hey, I know you just typed in [random word], but I know you meant [freakishly accurate search results suited specifically for you].”

The other story, meanwhile, is about a girl named Chia. She’s an American teenager glued to her ultra-fancy computer, which she uses to meet up with the other members of her chapter of the fanclub for… Wait for it… A Japanese rock duo called Lo/Rez.

Yup. Half this book is about fangirls.

Fangirls fawning over a Japanese rock duo.

See why I decided to mention this book here?

Chia gets selected by her internet fanclub to sneak out of the country, fly to Tokyo, and investigate the rumors that one of the members of Lo/Rez is in love with an idol. And not just any idol. A holographic sort of idol. Like… I could say perhaps that if this book had been written more recently, she’d be a vocaloid rather than an idol, except that I’m not yet totally clear on the concept of what those actually are.

Anyhoo, she gets out of the country, meets up with a Tokyo chapter representative of the Lo/Rez fanclub, and makes an attempt to track down the truth about the rumors. Along the way she winds up aided by an otaku, hides out in a love hotel, sees a swarm of fangirls in school uniforms, and there’s a whole bunch of stuff about crazy Americans and a few Australians, if I’m recalling the plot correctly.

The neat thing about this book is that it’s clearly not written by a fangirl, and it’s certainly not written for fangirls. It’s like seeing what I’m like about Gackt from somebody else’s perspective. It was a crazy read the first time, the second time… I’m pretty certain I’ve read it all the way through since I’ve become an anime fan, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually picked it up since I’ve become a proper fangirl who would really get every inch of what Chia’s motivations are. …I really need to reread this thing someday.

Another fun aspect is how outdated it’s become while still being… I mean… Is this book futuristic or just parallel universey now? It was totally and absolutely futuristic when I first got it, but, like I mentioned earlier with the part about Google, some of it’s been blown out of the water at this point.

Well… whatever!

It’s an awesome read if you’re looking for an American-oriented adventure into a fangirl’s view of the world of Japanese rock and idols.


More about nichan
i like cantonese music, japanese music, a dash of korean music, and our site owner has recently exposed me to mandarin music. — joey yung was my introduction to asian music.

i like manga and anime. — “sailor moon” was my introduction to anime, and my first manga obsession was “gravitation”.

i really like ancient chinese literature. — i believe “the tale of genji” was my introduction to asian literature, but i very quickly converted from japanese to chinese. i’m pretty sure my first chinese literature experience was “a dream of red mansions”.

i was a history major in college. i did my senior thesis on the comparison of yaoi and slash fan histories. when i got out of college, i still had a year left on my parents’ insurance, so i went back to the local college and did an independent study on learning world war i through “gundam wing”.

i like the occasional asian movie, but i don’t really have the attention span for movies…

i loves me some loligoth/gothloli.

the problem, you see, is that i’m way, way, way too cheap and lazy to bother getting new stuff, so i predict that all of my reviews will be on things i’ve already watched/read/heard, rather than new and up-to-date releases. don’t be expecting to see new titles and whatnot listed under my name… i buy from the bargain bin!

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