Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Idoru

Go To
Idoru is a Cyberpunk/Post-Cyberpunk Speculative Fiction novel by William Gibson. Set in Tokyo, it is the second book of the Bridge Trilogy.

Rez of the Lo/Rez band has announced he is going to marry Rei Toei, a Japanese digital celebrity — a.k.a. "idoru". Lo/Rez's Fangirl Chia Pet McKenzie travels to Tokyo to find out the truth. Laney, an ex-analyst, is hired by Rez's security to find out what's wrong with him. Meanwhile, the Russian Kombinat execute their own scheme and are not letting those two get in their way.

In 2006, an anime film version was announced, but to date, nothing has come of it.

Tropes Used:

  • Advertised Extra: While Rei Toei is the instigating factor behind this novel's plot, she does not appear until after its halfway point and has overall fewer interactions with other characters than even in the next book, which wasn't named after her.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: The Japanese loanword for "idol" should technically be romanized as aidoru, not idoru. This mostly an odd case of Recursive Translation between writing systems changing the "proper" spelling of a word, however: Depending on one's accent, the "i" in both "idol" and "idoru" would be pronounced "ai" already. note , hence the loanword's initial vowel in Japanese.
  • Author Avatar: Colin Laney to William Gibson, in a way. Laney's talent for identifying nodal points was meant to be a metaphor for Gibson's own much noted knack for identifing bits of the future in present-day.
  • Beige Prose: Like other William Gibson novels, played straight. Sentence fragments. Everywhere.
  • Berserk Button: Zona Rosa really hates it when anyone insults her toughness.
  • City Noir: Tokyo
  • Corporate Samurai: Blackwell is a typical Gibson example of such and is introduced in such a way that you think he'll be a bad guy, but turns out to be a rare positive example and one of the most reliably trustworthy characters in the book.
  • Crapsack World: Tokyo’s Western World.
  • Cyberpunk/Post Cyber Punk: Can be classified as one or the other, depending on who you ask.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain
  • Cyberspace: Chia’s chapters with her Sandbender computer loves this trope.
  • Do Androids Dream?: Rei Toei. In fact, her dreams are literally the music videos.
  • Everything Is Online: Laney uses information online, including music likes, to track down and analyze specific aspects of the person he’s tracking.
  • Fangirl: Chia, Mitsuko, Hiromi and tons of other unnamed girls.
  • Fat Bastard: Chia believes Hiromi is one. She's proven right in the end.
  • Femme Fatale: Rei Toei
  • Le Film Artistique: The first of the two documentaries for Lo/Rez. Lampshaded when Laney thought it was hard to follow at times. However, the documentary shows the band being disconnected from the world through stress and travel, a major reason why Rez is marrying the idoru, who is always connected to the world by virtue of only existing in cyberspace.
  • Flashback: Mostly in Laney’s chapters. He often remembers his old work while analyzing the nodal points.
  • Gratuitous English: Used intentionally, found in descriptions of Japanese advertisements, clothing, drinks, and instruction labels.
  • Hacker Collective: Masahiko belongs to a hacker collective known as Walled City.
  • Hikikomori: Masahiko.
  • Hologram: Rei Toei, the idoru herself.
  • Idol Singer: Lo/Rez and Rei Toei.
  • Industrial Ghetto: Tokyo’s Western World. It is basically Tokyo’s old remains left untouched after the earthquake.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Not nearly as blatant as in the Sprawl Trilogy, but Japan has definitely fared much better than the U.S. or Russia since the global economic crash.
  • Jerkass: Hiromi Ogawa.
  • I Am Legion: Rei Toei is not just one, but many idorus.
  • The Mafiya: In Japan, the Russian Kombinat (or Combine) are setting up a shady business deal. They want to acquire a programming unit for nanotech assemblers, which are banned technology in Russia.
  • Matrix Raining Code: Laney sometimes sees this while he is analyzing nodal points. So does Chia when she is using her sandbender program.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Chia Pets are toys.
    • The Walled City, the hacker community, is named after the Kowloon Walled City.
    • Slitscan is an animation that’s created by image by image.
    • Zona Rosa is a neighbourhood in Mexico City. In a brilliant combination of Genius Bonus and Foreshadowing, the Zona Rosa is a very expensive and trendy area...
    • Rei Toei’s name and personality are inspired by the Toei company which includes Toei Animation.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: (Semi) In-universe. The avatar for Chia's Venice program is an effeminate pop-star looking man with an impressive coat. It is mentioned that in order to avoid litigation, they had to change one of his eyes (but why just one, Chia wonders?)
  • Not Disabled in VR: Zona Rose, the supposed leader of a Chilanga girl gang, is ultimately revealed to be the severely disabled daughter of a lawyer.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Blackwell to Kathy Torrance.
  • Otaku: Masahiko is a computer otaku.
  • Playful Hacker: Zona Rosa. In the end, she saves everyone, by hacking the central fan community, sacrificing her identity, and webspace in the process, announcing that Rez died at the love hotel. The fans immediately converge there for a mass vigil, and the crowds really slow down the baddies.
  • Product Placement: Pocari Sweat of all things, though obscure references like this, are one of Gibson's trademarks.
  • Projected Man: Rei Toei, the Idoru.
  • Recursive Reality: The Walled City is basically Tokyo itself, managed in the style of Second Life.
  • Revenge: Kathy Torrance hates Laney a lot.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Rei Toei.
  • Robotic Spouse: The premise.
  • Robosexual: The premise, again.
  • Scenery Porn: It perfectly describes Tokyo, especially to anyone who has visited or lived there.
  • Scenery Gorn: When it isn't Scenery Porn.
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Techno Babble: Gibson doesn't spell out exactly, how things work in any of his novels.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe
  • Translator Microbes: Chia uses translator software that lets her converse in real time with Mitsuko, who speaks little English. Some of the problems of using software are noted:
    "Masahiko is seventeen," Mitsuko said. "He is a 'pathological-techno-fetishist-with-social-deficit,'" this last all strung together like one word, indicating a concept that taxed the lexicon of the ear-clips...
    "A what?"
    "Otaku," Mitsuko said carefully in Japanese. The translation burped its clumsy word string again.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future
  • Unusual Pop Culture Name: Chia Pet McKenzie was named after the terracotta figurines. Her mother was an immigrant, did not speak English, did not understand the commercial and just liked the sound of "Chia Pet", so it was not intentional.
  • The 'Verse: Part of the Bridge Trilogy.
  • Virtual Celebrity
  • Weapon for Intimidation: Maryalice uses her handgun shaped cigarette lighter for this, near the end of the book. The illusion collapses when she pulls the trigger.