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 Countrywhich is a beautifully multi-leveled titletakes 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.
Like Pynchon and DeLillo, Gibson excels at pinpointing the hidden forces that shape our world.
San Francisco Chronicle
Both cool and scary.
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.
A fitful, fast-forward spy tale.
The author himself is enthusiastically working his way back from the future.
[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.
Never anything less than fascinating.
Gibson takes aim at the BlackBerry era with the excellent Spook Country.
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
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.
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.
From the Publisher
“A puzzle palace of bewitching proportions and stubborn echoes.”—Los Angeles Times
“Arguably the first example of the post-post-9/11 novel, whose characters are tired of being pushed around by forces larger than they are—bureaucracy, history and, always, technology—and are at long last ready to start pushing back.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Like Pynchon and DeLillo, Gibson excels at pinpointing the hidden forces that shape our world.”—Details
“[A] dazed, mournful quality…[An] evocation of post-9/11 displacement, the sense of a world in which nothing seems fixed or reassuring…one of our vital novelists.”—Newsday
“Although wearing the trappings of a thriller, Spook Country is essentially a comedy, albeit a dry, dark, and disturbing one.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A fitful, fast-forward spy tale...It’s to Gibson’s credit that he weaves his strands of disparate narrators, protagonists and foils, and his panoply of far-forward technology, into a vivid, suspenseful and ultimately coherent tale.”—USA Today
“Part thriller, part spy novel, part speculative fiction, Gibson’s provocative work is like nothing you have ever read before.”—Library Journal
“Set in the same high-tech present day as Pattern Recognition, Gibson’s fine ninth novel offers startling insights into our paranoid and often fragmented postmodern world....Compelling characters and crisp action sequences, plus the author’s trademark metaphoric language, help make this one of Gibson’s best.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Gibson excels as usual in creating an off-kilter atmosphere of vague menace.”—Kirkus Reviews