Spook Country

Spook Country

by William Gibson

Paperback(Tall Rack Paperback - Reprint)

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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."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425226711
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/03/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 475,570
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

William Gibson’s first novel, Neuromancer, won the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, and the Nebula Award in 1984. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of Count ZeroMona Lisa Overdrive, Burning ChromeVirtual LightIdoruAll Tomorrow’s Parties, Pattern RecognitionSpook CountryZero History, Distrust That Particular Flavor, and The Peripheral. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife.


Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Date of Birth:

March 17, 1948

Place of Birth:

Conway, South Carolina


B.A., University of British Columbia, 1977

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Spook Country 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Ninja_Dog More than 1 year ago
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.
maddymonkey More than 1 year ago
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.
Sigma More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Nodosaurus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Spook Country is a fast-paced book that conceals its subject until late in the book. I was disappointed in what it provided and how things played out.The book has very short chapters, sometimes only one or two pages in length. For me, this made it difficult to get to know the characters and follow the events. In the early book, it discusses lots of interesting technology innovations, but these eventually feel like just a way for the author to show his understanding, as they aren't used in the book. Although the book keeps hinting that they are important. This went a long way to break the illusion of having a narrator vs. the author's telling the story. As the book neared its end, reviewing earlier material didn't feel like it made sense. Some of the character actions early on didn't feel like they were consistent with what the character should have known at the time. Although this only affected some minor events, it felt like the events were more oriented towards telling a story than internal consistency. The suspense was good, it was never clear what was going on until the final pages. Although, again, I didn't feel that the final solution was well thought out. I don't think anyone would really use the solution they adopted.
jphillips3334 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is a slight departure from his usual science fiction stories. Not much of a departure, even though it¿s set in contemporary times, the story still contains a lot of technological elements that is definitely Gibson¿s style. He sets his story around espionage but our main character is anything like a spy. The story is not that elaborate or complex. There are two story arcs that converge at the end but it¿s a pretty straightforward story. What¿s interesting about this book is that he likes the give the most visual description he can provide. He describes almost every last detail, down to the brand names on the clothing that someone¿s wearing. It can be a bit distracting from the story at first, but after getting use to it, you get a clear mental picture of what the characters are doing, how they look, and where they¿re at. A steady even pace throughout the whole book, it may be too slow for some.
danconsiglio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I do love a book with multiple story lines that seem totally unconnected until the last two or so chapters. I love books like that a lot. Gibson pulls his complicated plot off well. I'm not convinced that future generations will connect as strongly to the explicitly 'oughties' technology references as I did, but Spook Country will make a heck of a period piece in a few decades. Good stuff!
figre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to this book. I enjoy William Gibson¿s writing and snap up each book as it is published. Part way through, I was really looking forward to being done with this book. Nope. Didn¿t work. Didn¿t care. Nice ideas, some semi-interesting people, but nothing to compel me to finish this book (other than the fact that I resolutely refuse to not finish books ¿ and Ulysses doesn¿t count ¿ I will be back some day.)It was tough getting into the story. It was not that the disjointedness was off-putting ¿ I am perfectly fine with that approach. It was the fact that I never felt drawn into the characters or the story. And then it was tough to just sustain the momentum to keep reading. The only interest I could marshal was in the exploration of virtual art forms. But the intrigue didn¿t intrigue me. And, when it was all said and done, the final caper left me with the feeling that a lot of effort went into very little result. Towards the end, one character wonders if the entire thing is not just an extremely involved prank. The reader leaves feeling the same way.
TheCrow2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gibson's vision of the near future where the wonders of today became common. It's not a SF but almost a realist novel, Gibson just seeing a step further than everybody else...I particularly enjoyed the numerous (pop)cultural references...
bradsucks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved Pattern Recognition, but Spook Country went over my head. I didn't quite understand what was going on or why. I think the book may have been smarter than me.I basically just loved Milgrim and wanted more of him.
schnaucl_read on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I will freely admit that part of my problem with this book probably stems from the fact that I read about 5 chapters a day over a prolonged period of time. It made an already chunky plot more confusing.I think the idea of locative art is both interesting and a little horrifying. Our visual space is already so cluttered I can't even imagine what it would be like with locative art, not to mention the ways the same technology would be used for advertising (which is the truly horrifying part).My real problem is that I really am not a fan of the story telling style where there are two or more separate groups of characters who have their own story lines who only come together at the end of the book. That kind of storytelling often feels fractured to me and when there are so many different points of view all of the characters end up feeling very superficial to me. It's a form of story telling that almost never works for me. If I like one of the characters I resent having to read about the rest and in the very rare case where I like all the characters it takes a while to get into each section and just when I get comfortable I have to switch POV again. This was a case of feeling like I never really connected with any of the characters and what could have been a really cool story if it had focused on just Tito, just Bobby, or just the guy trying to track them down just wasn't.
Katong on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After having invented cyberspace, or coined the term, [author: William Gibson] now gets all geographical on us. He goes geo-locative. He returns to space: "Someone told me that cyberspace was 'everting'. That's how she put it.""Sure. And once it everts,there isn't any cyberspace is there? There never was, if you want to look at it that way. It was a way we had of lokking where we were headed, a direction. With the grid, we're here. This is the other side of the screen. Right here." He pushed his hair aside and let both blue eyes drill into her.
port22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The minimalist style and understated wit of the writing is what pulls you in. The book is not science fiction but part of the plot revolves around an interesting form of art based on spacial technology -- locative art. It is viewed via location-aware helmets that obtain coordinates from GPS. The art is projected on the visual field when helmet is at a precise geo location. In character the art could be abstract or could, for example, recreate a famous scene that took place at that precise place.The book tells three disconnected stories in parallel.Hollis Henry is a former punk-band musician who attempts to break into art reporting. The investigation of locative art is her first foray into journalism. She is hired by a magazine that doesn't yet exist, this is used as a ploy by its owner to engage her in finding some answers he needs. The database that hosts the locative art is also a place where secrets of interest are hidden.Tito comes from a Cuban crime family, he speaks Russian, lives his life within the confines of KGB's rule-book, and relies on a fighting technique based on Latin American religious trance. He is hired for an operation of information smuggling where data is passed on the hard drive of an iPod.Milgrim, an addict who is held on a leash by a mysterious intelligence agent called Brown, is required to translate anything intercepted from Tito.The story converges on one central object, a shipping container sought by people in the three different story lines. This objective is vague during most of the book, a subtle sense of disconnect comes out of the pages. It is a masterful way to instill some mild paranoia; and to keep you interested until the end. I liked it very much.
jshrop on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thouroughly enjoyed William Gibson's latest offering, Spook Country, in this movement, like Pattern Recognition, away from what we traditionally think of as "cyberpunk". This novel combines the detailed workings of a generational ex-KGB crime family with a paranoid, typically solitary "geek" searching the complex data streams of international commerce, as seen through the eyes of a journalist with pop-culture roots as a former punk band front girl. Gibson weaves these stories together in a very meticulous way, but not to the degree where the "coincidences" of the three lines coming together are so perfect that it takes you out of the story as unbelievable or riduculous. I think that many authors today could learn from his style, and cool down on the number of mathmatically impossible chances of their storylines so perfectly slamming into each other, that seems to grace the pages of lesser masters of the art of fiction. The subject matter is one previously untouched by Gibson, creating a whole new landscape in "present time". The characters are all in search of a special cargo container, and the intelligence and counter-intelligence surrounding its location. The description of the smallest crime family in the world, and their detailed system of operation is fascinating. No move is made unplanned or in reaction to their emotions, even those that are seemingly random to those watching have been carefully orchestrated to invoke this non-pattern appearance. The theme that draws our rock band front girl into the mix is not far fetched with today's current technology, the idea of geo-locational artwork. I, as many, already geolocate my photos on vacation with simple tools and small gps devices. With google earth I can see where my pictures were taken on the map, with the pictures displayed, it seems a logical next step to incorporate that into any of the wearable computer displays available and display the photos at the GPS coordinates when you are there in person. I really like the extent that Gibson developed this idea and the "scene" he created around it for the novel. The anti-climatic ending of Spook Country is perfect. It definately will make you think; your own ponderings instantly fill the vacuum created by the outcome. There is no better way to finish this story, and it would have been ruined by spectacular action at the finish. The action-packed lead up to the relative calm and place for reflection is as enjoyable a journey as the serene, thoughtful, destination.
Hagelstein on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An intriguing and refreshing amalgam of espionage, technology, celebrity worship and government malfeasance. There¿s no real indication of where the story is going or who is actually behind most of the machinations as they unfold, and that¿s just fine. I want to call it a very good spy novel ¿ but it¿s more than that. It's a very good story.
Harlan879 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like some of Gibson's work a lot, particularly Neuromancer and The Difference Engine, but in my attempt to read Spook Country I found his writing completely uncompelling. Flat, uninteresting characters, no plot hook, no interesting themes. After 70 pages, I gave up.
hannah.aviva on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, William Gibson rocks! I wish I could write like him.So 50 pages in it suddenly hits me, Pattern Recognition was Neuromancer rewritten in current times, and Spook Country is Count Zero. Cool! This means there must be a third book coming that is an analog of Mona Lisa Overdrive. I hope it doesn't take him 4 years to write it.I don't know why this wasn't more apparent when I was reading Pattern Recognition. I guess it's been awhile now since I read Neuromancer and Count Zero and I don't remember everything that happened or all the characters. But Cayce's name being the same as Case should have been a huge clue. In fact it took me until I realized that Bobby's name was also Bobby to fully cement the connection for me. And then I started seeing all these patterns...I wonder why Gibson chose to tell the same basic story twice only from slightly different perspectives and in a different reality. Like the laws of physics, these are the laws of Gibson?I really liked Tito, I think he's my favorite Gibson character so far. I'll be really upset if Brown comes back and kills him in the next book. That better not happen.
conformer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gibson's latest, and the closest to the present day he's set a story. Does this disqualify it from the science fiction category he helped to revitalize twenty years ago? Not necessarily. Gibson's works have always revolved around people's interactions with technology, and now that we as a society are closer than ever to our machines, that probably makes later books like Spook Country even more relevant. One still has to wonder if Gibson is shaping his writing to the near-future we live in now, or if the world itself was molded by some of his earlier ideas.To be fair, Spook Country is not nearly as good as its predecessor Pattern Recognition, which was a revelation. At the same time, Spook Country is the kind of book that rails against the standard of modern "literary entertainment" that somehow seeks to mirror the slam-bang-gee-whiz properties of modern low attention span filmmaking. The story is languid and nicely-paced, with minimal, muted action sequences and divergent, mysterious characters. Gibson pulls it all off without being boring, in fact, it's almost like being slowly boiled alive like a lobster, to mix metaphors.Now that we've seen how much his writing has evolved since Neuromancer in 1984, it should be just as interesting to see how it changes in the next few decades.
djfiander on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If Len Deighton and John Le Carre wrote of the intelligence world of the post-war and cold war eras, then William Gibson is now writing about the same murky world today.
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
William Gibson seems to be writing the history of cyberspace in a non-linear fashion, where the chronology of his writing is the opposite of his timeline. His early works, from the era of Count Zero and Neuromancer, are definitely in the foreseeable but still distant future. With Pattern Recognition, the release prior to Spook Country, Gibson moves to the future of maybe a few months from now. In Spook Country, we are given enough clues to place this book¿s context after Pattern Recognition, but still in a very real, very near future. I can only wonder if our world is changing to conform to Gibson¿s vision of the future or if he is trying to make his works more contemporary.Gibson visits some themes of previous books and some characters from Pattern Recognition help bind this book to Gibson¿s idea of future history. Hubertus Bigend, the mystery man behind the mysterious corporate entity known as Blue Ant, are the first landmarks we recognize in this new work. The video at the core of Pattern Recognition is plainly identified as happening prior to this story unfolding, so we are able to get a temporal fix for this story as well. We go beyond his last present and are introduced to a new art form, locative art, reminiscent of the sunglasses so essential to Virtual Light. Locative art is a type of virtual reality that is only visible at specific geographic coordinates. If you are wearing the proper virtual reality helmet and you know the coordinates, you can travel around to different places and see incredible artistic creations. As I said, this is just over the event horizon of our now. It is a very likely combination of art, GPS technology and computer technology that becomes the foundation of the cyberspace depicted in Neuromancer. As in Count Zero, Gibson introduces the Lords of the world of Voudon as protectors of some of the players in this book.In addition to the aforementioned Hubertus Bigend, the cast of characters includes some classic Gibson archetypes. Our heroine, Hollis Henry, is a former singer in a band and is now trying to become a writer. She is from the same mould as Cayce Pollard from Pattern Recognition. Tito, a Cuban-Chinese ¿facilitator¿ is linked to the Orishas of Voudon, as were several characters in Count Zero. Chambo, the technical connection for the locative artists, will probably see Case, from several Gibson adventures, as one of his descendants.While all this sameness may seem boring, William Gibson¿s writing makes these essentials come alive in a new way through a unique story. Hollis Henry, originally accepting an assignment from Bigend to do a piece on locative art, finds herself in the middle of a high tech espionage plot to sabotage a money laundering operation. The tension and interaction of the characters is on par with Neuromancer, arguably Gibson¿s top work to date. It seems that as the author steps away from the fancy sci-fi world he began creating for us, he is learning to really hone his writing skills. Rather than using the smoke and mirrors of cyberspace to distract us, he is dazzling us with some brilliant writing technique. Originally I lamented the loss of Gibson¿s rough edges, but now I am beginning to really appreciate his writing and storytelling skills.While I believe the story of Hollis Henry and most of the cast in Spook Country is done, there is enough of an air of mystery about Hubertus Bigend and Blue Ant, I would not be surprised to see them as part of another offering from this author. In the last two stories, these entities played important roles, but they still remained in the background. I think their story has yet to be revealed and I, for one, am looking forward to hearing it.
RobertDay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
William Gibson has stopped writing science fiction.That's not to say that his style or content has changed. Rather, it shows that our world has now caught up to his vision. I thought that when I read his previous book. 'Pattern recognition'; now, with 'Spook country', it becomes all the plainer. There is a feature in the novel that we don't have in our world (as far as I know); I'm not aware of locative art, virtual sculptures located in the real world that you need to be online at their presumed location to see, but with smartphones and iPads, that can only be just around the corner.My early impression of this book was "So far, so Gibson", and others have commented that he writes the same book over and over. I soon began to move away from this view. 'Spook country' is set in a very specific political territory: the human landscape of those who the end of the Cold War left beached, without a direction or a purpose. One of his characters is a teenager of a Chinese-Cuban expatriate family, whose "family firm" turns out to have been the KGB, but who have been deserted in the political upheavals of the end of the 20th century when allegiances and political viewpoints changed almost overnight.Given that the plot quickly begins to involve people for whom sudden death is part of their daily grind, this novel quickly acquired, for me, a clearer focus than previous Gibson offerings. Perhaps this is why others have compared it more to 'Neuromancer' than some of his later intervening works. Certainly, I found it becoming a page-turner as I got closer to the end; I was getting quite excited by the outcome!The characters, though typically Gibson, are also an interesting bunch. Milgrim, for example; addicted to anti-anxiety drugs, he is held hostage by the one-time (or wannabe?) US agent Brown for his translation skills; does his name, though, possibly reference the originator of the Milgram experiment, the one that showed that ordinary people can turn into sadistic monsters if ordered to do a nasty thing by a sufficiently powerful authority figure? And once more we meet Hubertus Bigend, a character whose name is probably the only deliberate joke that Gibson has ever given us, and a character looking increasingly shady - there now appears to be more to Bigend's agency, Blue Ant, than we previously thought, with its penchant for concealed offices with power-operated drive-in garages, beloved of 1960s spy thrillers, its global reach, and Bigend's sudden intertest in potentially dangerous people and acts. Given that in my mind's eye, Bigend has always been played by John Malkovich, perhaps I'm making him more sinsister than I ought - or am I?So: a book which turned out to be more interesting than I expected; or is it just that Gibson is turning into the sort of cultural phenomomen that his characters obsess over?
jet1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Some sort of combination of Science Fiction and a thriller - I couldn't make head or tail of it.