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Spook Countryby William Gibson
Finalist for the 2008 Locus Award for SF Novel
Spook Country is Gibson at the top of his game, with gorgeous detail, page-turning suspense, and fascinating characters. If you've never read this author in the past because his work was categorized as science fiction, pick up this book, which is all too eerily close to home.
Synopses & Reviews
The New York Times bestseller from "one of the most astute and entertaining commentators on our astonishing, chaotic present" (Washington Post Book World).
Hollis Henry is a journalist on investigative assignment for a magazine called Node, which doesn't exist yet. Bobby Chombo is a producer working on cutting-edge art installations. In his day job, Bobby is a trouble-shooter for military navigation equipment. He refuses to sleep in the same place twice. He meets no one.
Hollis Henry has been told to find him.
"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. When a mysterious, not yet actual magazine, Node, hires former indie rocker–turned–journalist Hollis Henry to do a story on a new art form that exists only in virtual reality, Hollis finds herself investigating something considerably more dangerous. An operative named Brown, who may or may not work for the U.S. government, is tracking a young, Russian-speaking Cuban-Chinese criminal named Tito. Brown's goal is to follow Tito to yet another operative known only as the old man. Meanwhile, a mysterious cargo container with CIA connections repeatedly appears and disappears on the worldwide Global Positioning network, never quite coming to port. At the heart of the dark goings-on is Bobby Chombo, a talented but unbalanced specialist in Global Positioning software who refuses to sleep in the same spot two nights running. Compelling characters and crisp action sequences, plus the author's trademark metaphoric language, help make this one of Gibson's best. 8-city author tour. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"William Gibson has spent the bulk of his career creating vivid, intensely detailed fictional futures that reflect, with uncanny precision, the rapidly shifting realities of contemporary life. This tendency was evident in his first novel, 'Neuromancer,' which works both as an ingeniously constructed cyber thriller and as a meditation on the impact of information technology on every aspect of human... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) society. When, in 2003, Gibson abandoned science fiction to produce an up-to-the-minute mainstream novel called 'Pattern Recognition,' it came as no real surprise. In his way, Gibson has always written about the here and now. But with that book, he began a remarkable exploration of post-9/11 America that continues, with undiminished vigor, in 'Spook Country.' Like its predecessor, 'Spook Country' depicts a world transformed by globalization, by the threat — and memory — of terrorist attacks, and by the presence of proliferating technologies. But though they are set in what is recognizably the same world, these are distinctly different books. 'Pattern Recognition' explored, among other things, the nature and practice of advertising, the power of images and the subliminal code that helps determine success or failure in the global marketplace. 'Spook Country,' by contrast, is an overtly political book that takes an unsparing look at a country awash in confusion, fear and pervasive paranoia, a country torn apart by an endless, unpopular war in Iraq. The plot proceeds along parallel tracks that converge in the later stages of the novel. The first concerns Hollis Henry, former lead singer for a defunct rock band called the Curfew. Hollis is now a journalist freelancing for a fledgling magazine called Node, a 'European version of Wired' that has yet to publish a single issue. Its guiding spirit is Hubertus Bigend, a figure familiar to readers of 'Pattern Recognition.' Bigend, an advertising wunderkind who trolls the culture for potentially profitable anomalies, sends Hollis in search of an eccentric recluse named Bobby Chombo. Bobby is the acknowledged master of an advanced form of Global Positioning Software used in a radical new art form called Locative Art, which builds virtual images of actual events (such as the death of film star River Phoenix) in the precise locations where these events occurred. But, as Hollis will eventually learn, Bobby's expertise has other, less esthetic, applications. Supporting narratives involve two small groups of players, each fundamentally opposed to the other. One centers on Tito, the youngest member of a Cuban/Chinese crime family based in New York City. Tito works for a mysterious old man who is — or may once have been — an important figure in American intelligence circles. Together, the two act out an elaborate charade aimed at passing crucial disinformation to the final group of players. The leader of this last contingent is Brown, a brusque, obsessive right-wing loyalist with unspecified connections to the American government. Brown is determined to capture Tito, the old man and the data he believes they possess, data that casts an unflattering light on the American adventure in Iraq. These disparate storylines ultimately converge around a single common goal: a mysterious cargo container that is moving, by a circuitous route, toward an unknown destination. The container and its contents comprise what Hitchcock — whose name is invoked in the novel — called a MacGuffin: the single, crucial element around which everything in the narrative revolves. (The use of such Hitchcockian devices, which include the high-tech sunglasses in 'Virtual Light' and the mysterious footage in 'Pattern Recognition,' has become a common motif in Gibson's fiction.) Once the elements are in place, the action shifts from a variety of locales (New York, Los Angeles, Washington) to the port city of Vancouver, where the container and its contents meet a surprising fate. 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 multileveled 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. Bill Sheehan is the author of 'At the Foot of the Story Tree' and is co-editor of the recent anthology 'Lords of the Razor.'" Reviewed by Jonathan YardleyJennifer VanderbesRobert G. KaiserRon CharlesSusan P. WilliamsBill Sheehan, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
(hide most of this review)
"Part thriller, part spy novel, part speculative fiction, Gibson's provocative work is like nothing you have ever read before. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Spook Country is beautiful, clever, timely and dead-on ironic." Oregonian
"[A] puzzle palace of bewitching proportions and stubborn echoes." Los Angeles Times
"Spook Country is a thriller discernible only by its thin vapor trails; determining the precise paths followed by its various threads is probably impossible and most assuredly beside the point." San Diego Union-Tribune
"Readable and mildly engaging, but not the kind of cutting-edge work we expect from Gibson." Kirkus Reviews
The latest New York Times bestseller by the author of Pattern Recognition offers the story of an investigative journalist who is assigned the task of finding a spook — an intelligence agent who refuses to sleep in the same place twice.
About the Author
William Gibson is credited with having coined the term "cyberspace," and having envisioned both the Internet and virtual reality before either existed.
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