Spook Country Paperback – Jun 3 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Robertson Dean's deep, soothing tones anchor this post-9/11 thriller, a follow-up to Pattern Recognition. Told from three third-person perspectives, the story concerns a journalist backed by a mysterious Belgian industrialist, a young Cuban-Chinese go-to guy from a secretive clan of criminals, and a junkie fluent in Russian, who get caught up in a search for a mysterious shipping container. Gibson reinvents the concept he made famous in his landmark SF novel, Neuromancer—i.e., cyberspace—creating a more nuanced and up-to-date relationship between the virtual and the real. For Gibson, the nature of the quest object is almost beside the point; it merely serves as a spark for a series of cleverly orchestrated confrontations and interesting meditations about the world and where it's headed. In a novel that's light on dialogue and heavy on narration and interior monologue, Dean doesn't need to create distinct, accented voices. He provides reflective calm for Gibson's musings, and clarity to detailed, complex action scenes. Although there are a few strange mispronunciations, this is, on the whole, a smooth, intelligent recording of an intriguing and gripping book.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Set in the present, Gibson's Pattern Recognition (2002) addressed hacking, viral marketing, global surveillance, and, several years before YouTube and Lonelygirl15, video on the Internet. Spook Country, too, depicts the present, with the future superimposed on it, a layer of data visible only to those who know how to see it. Hollis Henry, formerly the singer in an early nineties band with a cult following and now a freelance journalist, is hired by Node, a Wired-like publication, to write a piece on "locative art," for which a viewer must don a headset to see three-dimensional virtual renditions projected via wireless to an exact location using GPS. Node's funding comes from Hubertus Bigend (returning from Pattern Recognition), the Belgian founder of the "innovative global advertising agency Blue Ant," known for his "ability to find precisely the right person for a given project." In a positively creepy scene, Hollis, upon learning who is funding her job, does a Google search for Bigend and, just after reading a Wikipedia entry on him, gets a phone call from the man himself. Bigend's intentions may be shady, but he is incredibly resourceful. Hollis goes from L.A. to Vancouver to track geo-hacker Bobby Chombo, himself hired by a mysterious outfit to track a missing shipping container. Other colorful characters with cool toys also pursue the container. Still others pursue the pursuers, in typical Gibsonian fashion. Segedin, Ben
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
While Pattern Recognition in many ways was a contemporary cyberpunk novel, this novel strays further into character development and character study, with great results. The plot is perhaps less immediately arresting than Pattern Recognition's, and the main character less oddly unique. However, all of the supporting characters truly shine, fascinatingly sketched and engaging. It's really one of the few stories I've read in a long time which presented the material from multiple viewpoints anchored to multipl characters where there were no characters that I disliked and no chapters that I wanted to rush through to get back to my favourite storyline.
The way the loose threads are ultimately gathered up is slightly more coincidental and convenient than in PR, but ultimately I think more satisfying, for the triumphs are more personal and you wind up feeling for the all of the people of this story.
A really engaging read. I listened to the audiobook version, read by Robertson Dean, and he did a magnificent job, a slick, polished flatness to his voice that suited the text brilliantly while still providing enough characterization to make the characters each pop out.
Two thumbs up. :)
Unfortunately, though the book is good enough, it is clearly a far cry from what one has come to expect from a writer of William Gibson's caliber. Interestingly enough, the story never quite takes off. Moreover, the ending is about as lackluster as it gets.
The main problem is that one can never really grasp what this book is all about. Short chapters allow us to maintain a level of interest, and the story and characters are intriguing enough to keep us going. Gibson sets a very good pace, making this one a thriller in terms of style.
Having said that, Spook Country lacks that edge, that little something special that sets thriller apart from other fiction subgenres. It lacks that spark that keeps us promising ourselves that this is the last chapter we're reading before our bedtime. Although there are a few cliffhangers, this one is never a particularly exciting read. Indeed, the story sort of creeps up on you, very slowly.
I found the main characters -- Hollis, Tito, and Milgrim -- to be a fascinating bunch at the beginning. And yet, their back stories turn out to be more interesting than the "real time" events.
Still, regardless of the novel's shortcomings, William Gibson succeeds in keeping us interested in what is occurring. As I mentioned, since the reader doesn't understand what is going on, curiosity makes you eager to discover what Spook Country is all about. The author's narrative is as evocative as is usually his wont, which helps the reader along.Read more ›
However, his next trilogy (Virtual Light, Idoru & All Tomorrow's Parties) took an abrupt downturn after the first book of the series. I will not go into the reasons I did not find them to work at par with his previous monumental works; after all, this is not their review.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when my loyalty (finally...) paid off! SPOOK COUNTRY is a BEAUTIFUL book!
If one is hoping to find a fast-paced SF techno-thriller or a page-turner gore-fest, well, this is not the book to pick. Try Richard Morgan instead.
Even since his more action-conscious Neuromancer, William Gibson had always been a subtle writer; his poetic words painting a stroke here and then a stroke there - until his reductionist prose reveals a magic vista of the human condition no one has put to words before.
Be patient with his books. Short chapters, phrasal fragments, unusual word-hacking and turning brand-names into verbs have always been his functional style. And, boy, does his style function!
Long after you will have finished the last page, the imagery will stay with you. Popping up unexpectedly, in the foam of your next Frappuchino; in your car GPS voice; in the site of a spyhopping orca.
The first ones were all in-your-face attitude. The new ones are atmosphere.
In terms of plot, Spook Country has a very fine one... almost invisible. This is not good if you are still reading Gibson anticipating sci-fi, but it plays well if you are looking for a modern, nuanced read.
John Le Carre it is not... because there is still hope within the anger.
Most recent customer reviews
None of Gibson's work lives up to Neuromancer and Count Zero.Published 3 months ago by Alex from Montreal
I also was a fan of William Gibson's earlier books. This one doesn't make the grade. Zero character development. No context. No descriptives worth anything. Read morePublished on Sept. 23 2009 by R.Lloyd
I'm a huge fan of Gibson's earlier works, the "Sprawl" trilogy and his short stories of that period. Read morePublished on Sept. 26 2008 by Timothy Grantham
This is another one of Gibson's light-hearted attempts at engaging his each of his main characters in an ambiguous search for an elusive something that only vaguely defines itself... Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2008 by Ian Gordon Malcomson