Spook Country

( 63 )

Overview

Tito is in his early twenties. Born in Cuba, he speaks fluent Russian, lives in one room in a NoLita warehouse, and does delicate jobs involving information transfer.

Hollis Henry is an investigative journalist, on assignment from a magazine called Node. Node doesn't exist yet, which is fine; she's used to that. But it seems to be actively blocking the kind of buzz that magazines normally cultivate before they start up. Really actively blocking it. It's odd, even a little scary,...

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Spook Country

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Overview

Tito is in his early twenties. Born in Cuba, he speaks fluent Russian, lives in one room in a NoLita warehouse, and does delicate jobs involving information transfer.

Hollis Henry is an investigative journalist, on assignment from a magazine called Node. Node doesn't exist yet, which is fine; she's used to that. But it seems to be actively blocking the kind of buzz that magazines normally cultivate before they start up. Really actively blocking it. It's odd, even a little scary, if Hollis lets herself think about it much. Which she doesn't; she can't afford to.

Milgrim is a junkie. A high-end junkie, hooked on prescription antianxiety drugs. Milgrim figures he wouldn't survive twenty-four hours if Brown, the mystery man who saved him from a misunderstanding with his dealer, ever stopped supplying those little bubble packs. What exactly Brown is up to Milgrim can't say, but it seems to be military in nature. At least, Milgrim's very nuanced Russian would seem to be a big part of it, as would breaking into locked rooms.

Bobby Chombo is a "producer," and an enigma. In his day job, Bobby is a troubleshooter for manufacturers of military navigation equipment. He refuses to sleep in the same place twice. He meets no one. Hollis Henry has been told to find him.

Pattern Recognition was a bestseller on every list of every major newspaper in the country, reaching #4 on the New York Times list. It was also a BookSense top ten pick, a WordStock bestseller, a best book of the year for Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and the Economist, and a Washington Post "rave."

Spook Country is the perfect follow-up to Pattern Recognition, which was called by The Washington Post (among many glowing reviews), "One of the first authentic and vital novels of the twenty-first century."

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Editorial Reviews

Bill Sheehan
Despite a full complement of thieves, pushers and pirates, Spook Country is less a conventional thriller than a devastatingly precise reflection of the American zeitgeist, and it bears comparison to the best work of Don DeLillo. Although he is a very different sort of writer, Gibson, like DeLillo, writes fiction that is powerfully attuned to the currents of dread, dismay and baffled fury that permeate our culture. Spook Country—which is a beautifully multi-leveled title—takes an unflinching look at that culture. With a clear eye and a minimum of editorial comment, Gibson shows us a country that has drifted dangerously from its governing principles, evoking a kind of ironic nostalgia for a time when, as one character puts it, "grown-ups still ran things." In Spook Country, Gibson takes another large step forward and reaffirms his position as one of the most astute and entertaining commentators on our astonishing, chaotic present.
—The Washington Post
Washington Post Book World
A devastatingly precise reflection of the American zeitgeist.
Los Angeles Times
A delicious surge of pleasure-center prose.
Details
Like Pynchon and DeLillo, Gibson excels at pinpointing the hidden forces that shape our world.
San Francisco Chronicle
Both cool and scary.
Chicago Tribune
Gibson's work is all edge and chill and incipient panic...His worlds are so striking, so plausible, that you're just happy to be along for the ride.
USA Today
A fitful, fast-forward spy tale.
Entertainment Weekly
The author himself is enthusiastically working his way back from the future.
Vancouver Sun
[His] complex and riveting new novel, Spook Country, is both entertaining and visionary, solidifying his position as the twenty-first century's primary literary soothsayer.
Columbus Dispatch
Never anything less than fascinating.
Men's Health
Gibson takes aim at the BlackBerry era with the excellent Spook Country.
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. Simultaneous release with the Putnam hardcover (Reviews, June 18). (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Los Angeles Times
A puzzle palace of bewitching proportions and stubborn echoes.
Washington Post Book World
A devastatingly precise reflection of the American zeitgeist.
Chicago Tribune
All edge and chill and incipient panic.
Vancouver Sun
William Gibson has done it again... Spook Country is both entertaining and visionary, solidifying his position as the twenty-first century's primary literary soothsayer.
Library Journal

Gibson, author of the award-winning archetypal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, has returned with a book that demonstrates yet again his ability to select from the trends of tomorrow's artifacts that will grab us today. In Spook Country, characters collide-seemingly at random-and interact in a multilayered fashion that has become Gibson's signature style. Hollis Henry, a former singer with a defunct indie rock band, has been hired by Node, a shadowy British version of Wiredmagazine, to write an article on locative art, an artistic innovation that uses virtual reality environments placed via GPS-tagging into the real world. She crosses paths with a Cuban Chinese Santerìa-worshipping martial artist, various hackers, conceptual artists, and several spooks whose loyalties are complex and sometimes nebulous. This slow unfolding of motive and plot may annoy those who dislike being lost for several minutes as it titillates others. Robertson Dean brings a sonorous, classically disciplined bass-baritone voice to the reading; his ability to read the narrative passages with precise diction and careful pacing is contrasted by his use of accents and inflection when conveying conversations. Recommended for public and academic libraries with medium to large collections of speculative fiction.
—David Faucheux

Kirkus Reviews
The SF innovator follows up his mainstream success (Pattern Recognition, 2003) with another novel set in the near-present, as three separate groups chase after a mysterious freight container. Hollis Henry, erstwhile singer for a disbanded rock group, the Curfew, is now a freelance journalist with a baffling assignment from Node, a startup magazine that is remarkably averse to publicity. She's researching "locative" art in Los Angeles, though her employer seems mostly to be interested in the GPS expertise of a guy who facilitates this high-tech virtual- reality genre. Tito belongs to a family of Chinese-Cuban immigrants involved in criminal enterprises in New York, aided by knowledge of Russian gained from a grandfather who worked with Soviet emissaries (and the CIA) in Havana. Milgrim is a drug addict who had the misfortune to be plucked from the streets by Brown, a creepy government operative who keeps him prisoner to take advantage of Milgrim's linguistic skills, needed to decode text messages in a Russian-based artificial language sent among Tito's family members. Gibson excels as usual in creating an off-kilter atmosphere of vague menace: Hollis's wealthy employer and the old man to whom Tito is passing iPods initially seem as sinister as Brown. And the narrative features the author's characteristically shrewd observations about everything from global piracy to conspiracy junkies to cultish rock fans. But the characters are vivid two-dimensional sketches rather than human beings, and the plot turns out to be a wish-fulfillment fantasy about getting back at the idiots and corporate crooks currently raking in the boodle in Iraq. There are some lovely metaphors and sharp insights aseveryone converges on a Canadian port where Tito and his cohorts will do something to the container before Brown and his cohorts can get hold of it. But when the mists of mystification clear, what's revealed isn't very interesting. Readable and mildly engaging, but not the kind of cutting-edge work we expect from Gibson.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399154300
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/7/2007
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 527,901
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Meet the Author

William Gibson
William Gibson is credited with having coined the term “cyberspace,” and having envisioned both the Internet and virtual reality before either existed.

Biography

Science fiction owes an enormous debt to William Gibson, the cyberpunk pioneer who revolutionized the genre with his startling stories of tough, alienated loners adrift in a world of sinister high technology.

Gibson was born in Conway, South Carolina, and spent much of his youth in Virginia with his widowed mother. He grew up shy and bookish, discovering science fiction and the literature of the beats at a precociously early age. When he was 15, he was sent away to private school in Arizona, but he left without graduating when his mother died suddenly. He fled to Canada to avoid the draft and immersed himself in '60s counterculture. He married, moved to British Columbia, and enrolled in college, graduating in 1977 with a degree in English. Around this time he began to write in earnest, combining his lifelong love of science fiction and his newfound passion for the punk music evolving in New York and London.

In the early 1980s, Gibson met writer and punk musician John Shirley and sci-fi authors Lewis Shiner and Bruce Sterling. All three were blown away by the power and originality of Gibson's stories, and together the four men went on to forge a radical new literary movement called cyberpunk. In 1984, Gibson's groundbreaking first novel, Neuromancer, was published. Daring and revolutionary, it envisioned such techno-marvels as AI, virtual reality, genetic engineering, and multinational capitalism years before they became realities. Although it was not an immediate sensation, Neuromancer struck a chord with hardcore sci-fi fans who turned it into a word-of-mouth hit. Then it won the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards (the Triple Crown of Science Fiction), catapulting Gibson into superstardom overnight.

Even if he had never written another word, Gibson's impact would be clearly seen in the works of such cutting-edge contemporary authors as Neal Stephenson, Pat Cadigan, and Paul DiFilippo. But, as it is, Neuromancer was just the beginning -- the first book in an inspired trilogy that has come to be considered a benchmark in the history of the genre; and since then, Gibson has gone on to create even more visionary science fiction, including The Difference Engine, a steampunk classic co-authored with Bruce Sterling, and such imaginative post-9/11 cyber thrillers as Pattern Recognition and Spook Country .

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    1. Also Known As:
      William Ford Gibson (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 17, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Conway, South Carolina
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of British Columbia, 1977

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 63 )
Rating Distribution

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(16)

4 Star

(23)

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(14)

2 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 63 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    Great return to form

    I have been a William Gibson fan for many years now, and 'Neuromancer' is quite likely my favorite book of all time. I cannot say that I have not enjoyed any of his works following that seminal cyberpunk novel -- far from it -- but despite the power of 'All Tomorrow's Parties,' Gibson's 'Bridge trilogy' did not give me that same sense of awe and trepidatious excitement that the three books of his 'Sprawl trilogy,' especially 'Neuromancer,' did. While I got a good deal of that sense back, however, with 'Pattern Recognition,' its trite ending and annoying quirks, as seen in my B&N review of that novel, didn't satisfy my lofty expectations of the author, given his potential. However, 'Spook Country' now gives me that sense back fully. Gibson's prose has never been more quirky, more razor-sharp, and, again, each of his characters here ring true, behaving in ways that you to expect them to, and in such a way that you actually care about what happens to each. Hollis Henry becomes just as compelling a character as Case and Cayce Pollard and leaves you hoping for more news about what happens to her in Gibson's next tale. The use of an industrial railyard as a scene of climax is very strong...I have often gotten much of the same feelings when driving around Bayonne and Port Elizabeth in New Jersey. Some might question, in the end, the strength of the resolution of the plot -- as in, 'That was all about just that?' -- but this would be an unfair criticism of the book, especially in light of the theme lurking just under the surface of Gibson's plot...namely, that in spook country, nothing in the world can be considered trivial, especially when money is involved. Overall, to me, even with 'Pattern Recognition,' William Gibson has never 'lost it,' so that my title of this review as a 'return to form' really is a mistatement. Nevertheless, if you count 'Neuromancer' as his gold standard, so that through reading a Gibson novel you become thoroughly engrossed in a world which is only a little bit off-kilter but still recognizable as one just coming around the corner, then 'Spook Country' is a great return to form indeed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2012

    Didn't grab me as much as _Pattern Recognition_, the first book

    Didn't grab me as much as _Pattern Recognition_, the first book in this series. I liked the Hollis Henry story line, but most of the other characters didn't really grab me, at least not until about halfway through.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2010

    Just plain awful.

    The book starts out interestingly enough, and you think you could be along for an interesting ride, but it evolves into sub-plots which end up going nowhere; involving characters you just don't care about. Frankly, I was annoyed by 90% of the characters and 90% of the situations in which they found themselves. You quickly come to a realization that no one would act as they do or care as much about what they are doing (if you're ever sure what it really is they are doing). It's all very unbelievable. I want to use the word arcane to describe the book's references to music, technology, martial arts, etc., but that implies that they are understood by few. Rather, I believe it's closer to the truth to say they are understood by none.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The intersection between sci-fi and contemporary.

    A powerful follow-up to Pattern Recognition, Spook Country deals with the unfolding of a strange plot through the merging points of view of three different groups of characters. Gibson is very comfortable with this kind of parallel storytelling, and pulls it off in a very digestible way this time. The characters are extremely unique and far more dimensional than the kind of people in his earlier cyberspace stuff. While Spook Country lacks the kind of violence of the cyberspace trilogy or the Masamune-esque philosophizing of Virtual Light/Idoru/All Tomorrow's Parties, we're seeing a more mature and strikingly contemporary writer in Gibson these days.
    As we now live in a world where many fragments of Gibsons's original cyberpunk visions are now commonplace, this author may be more cutting-edge than ever as a contemporary, non sci-fi writer. Gibson's major thematic engine is always the way technologies are used and abused by the deviants of society in strange and novel ways. In both Pattern Recognition and especially here in Spook Country, we see the same device used... but not to talk about humanity and technology, but to discuss our post-911 worldview on our collective psyche. Without taking a political stance, Gibson has conjured a powerful image of the world we now find ourselves in and portrays it in a manner that makes it feel entirely like the settings and troubles brought forth in novels like Neuromancer and Virtual Light.
    If you're not reading Gibson, you can't be completely in tune with how the maturing genre of science fiction is merging and integrating with modern contemporary literature, in my opinion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2009

    this is not your father's William Gibson

    took me a few pages to get reacquainted with Gibson's writing style, but overall I enjoyed the book. My previous exposure to Gibson were his hard sci-fi classics. This was more of a suspense/spy novel. Very interesting characters. Plausible plot. Good solid read. Not his best, but well written. Granted my expectations were extremely high, as it was a "Gibson" novel. Enjoy.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Unique style, timely atmosphere.

    This is my first Gibson and, while I was uncertain for the first dozen chapters or so, I found the momentum of the story and the characters increasingly compelling. While the ending initially seems like a bit of a letdown, more consideration brought me to the conclusion that it's a perfect ending for our times. Build-up, paranoia, tech, shady characters, complicated plans...all for...THAT? Exactly. Can't say the majority of news stories these days don't have me feeling the same.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Promising start, bland ending.

    I am a long-time Gibson fan, but was disappointed when I got to the ending. Forget this book and re-read one of his earlier works.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2009

    Unable to complete book

    I don't know when I have tried to read a book with a more disconnected storyline. Nothing seemed to tie together, and the whole scenario seemed to come from some sort of weird hallucination. I could not get more than 75 pages into the book before I gave up in disgust.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    Liked it

    It's an entertaining read.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 13, 2012

    Character-driven, "light" espionage

    Not quite as engaging as Pattern Recognition, but, in and of itself, a great character study, and often tongue-in-cheek, in regards to many issues of the modern age. Takes the continually-used themes of “people caught up in the schemes of people more rich and powerful than themselves”, and makes them interesting. From the man who dreamed of hyperspace, it's so great to see him still on the cutting edge of what's happening and what will happen, sooner than we think.

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    Posted January 28, 2010

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    Posted December 24, 2008

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    Posted July 8, 2010

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