Ron's Reviews > Spook Country

Spook Country by William Gibson
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's review
Feb 13, 2009

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bookshelves: scifi
Read in March, 2009

Gibson weaves another dark mystery from the narrow viewpoints of exotic, solitary characters, as they move through a complex "day after tomorrow" alternate present. We follow an ex-Cuban "spy family", shuttling secrets from buyer to seller on iPods, and an ex-rocker now journalist covering a software engineer working with "locative artists". These artists build 3D visual simulations that appear overlaid in a particular place when viewed through Gibson's beloved VR helmet. All of this leads to a believable conclusion derived from the events of the mid-2000's.

The continuity within the rest of Gibson's fiction is considerable. Transfer of iPods anticipates (or recalls) "Johnny Mnemonic". Two major themes in Gibson's "later" stories (actually written a decade ago) show their beginnings. First, the breakdown of national governments and transfer of power to corporations and individual actors. Hubertus of Blue Ant (also in Pattern Recognition) appears to be firmly on that path. The fact that he nominally runs an "ad agency" adds irony. Second, locative art would appear to be the beginning of "cyberspace," which in Gibson's other novels is a primary public interface to computing services. Finally, he mentions a gated religious community in Idaho, echoes again from another story.

Surely these are the man's beloved themes, but for readers of his other books its also fascinating to see this as a bridge or rationalization of "ideas to come" in the earlier stories. As always, I look forward to the next novels, where Mr. Gibson's contemporary past will collide with his historic future.
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