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Spook Country

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Spook Country Cover

ISBN13: 9780399154300
ISBN10: 0399154302
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

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.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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."

Review:

"'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.)"

Review:

"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)

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

Review:

"If Gibson's vision has got bleaker, his eye for the eerie in the everyday still lends events an otherworldly sheen." The New Yorker

Review:

"It's an entertaining yarn, but by Gibson's standards, one that feels featherweight. Given its subject matter, you'd expect it to have a greater sense of consequence." SFReviews.net

Review:

"[T]he pleasure of Gibson's prose would be enough inducement for most of us to immerse ourselves in this book the way Tito longs to immerse himself in the rich warmth of a bowl of duck soup." Seattle Times

Review:

"[A] puzzle palace of bewitching proportions and stubborn echoes." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"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

Review:

"There's a lot of gloss, attitude and atmosphere to this essentially straightforward adventure tale imbued with the sensibilities of post 9/11 America." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Review:

"Spook Country is beautiful, clever, timely and dead-on ironic." Oregonian

Review:

"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. He has managed to convert his cybernetic future into present tense." USA Today

Synopsis:

Gibson's first new book in four years is, like the bestselling and critically acclaimed Pattern Recognition, a contemporary novel with international implications.

Synopsis:

William Gibson returns with his first novel since 2010s New York Times–bestselling Zero History.

Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veterans benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMCs elite Haptic Recon force. Then one night Burton has to go out, but theres a job hes supposed to do—a job Flynne didnt know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her. The job seems to be simple: work a perimeter around the image of a tower building. Little buglike things turn up. Hes supposed to get in their way, edge them back. Thats all there is to it. Hes offering Flynne a good price to take over for him. What she sees, though, isnt what Burton told her to expect. It might be a game, but it might also be murder.

Synopsis:

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.

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 credited with having coined the term "cyberspace," and having envisioned both the Internet and virtual reality before either existed. His other novels include Pattern Recognition, All Tomorrow's Parties, Idoru, Virtual Light, Mona Lisa Overdrive, and Count Zero. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife and two children.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

nrlymrtl, May 23, 2012 (view all comments by nrlymrtl)
I think most folks come to know William Gibson’s works through his cyberpunk books like Neuromancer. The Blue Ant Trilogy is some of his latest work and this is my second Gibson book. I have been mightily impressed and entertained by his writing so far that I have added all his works to my TBR mountain range. I keep it in the backyard, on the horizon, where the neighbors won’t complain too much.

Bigend, found of Blue Ant corporation, has another interesting pet project that calls for people with special talents. This book jumps right into the middle of things; the characters and situations have backgrounds that we are not immediately privy to. So you have to pay attention to the first bits in order to enjoy the rest of the book, which is well worth the initial concentration outlay. Hollis Henry once was in a rock band, so folks recognize her face here and there. She is a journalist now, that having been a long-time interest. Bigend hires her to track down some unusual info; in fact, at first, we and Hollis are not sure what info we are hunting.

What I Liked: Never heard of the KGB systema before this book and I find it fascinating; every character has their quirks which makes them all real people; the fast pace of the book kept me thinking about the plot even when I wasn’t reading it.

What I Disliked: If you are distracted during that first few chapters, you are probably going to have to reread it since this book plops you right down into the middle of it.
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(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
Shoshana, April 18, 2010 (view all comments by Shoshana)
Spook Country is less about its plot than it is about the idea that activities and images occur around you and you may never see or know about them. This is illustrated by a number of related narratives and descriptions that demonstrate this idea in action.

Spook Country is not about the story, but about the witnessing of the story. Nominal protagonist Hollis's role is to see, not to do. "Spook country" here takes multiple forms--CIA spooks, spirits, systema, virtual art installations, data and fake data, radiation. The tale of the locative art is also the tale of the mysterious shipping container--you can only detect it with specialized access, but it's there. Doing what? Sometimes just existing, and at other times meaning something.

Sometimes meaning is obscure or inheres only in our perceptions and fantasies, not in the data itself. Numinous moments are followed by more benzodiazepines. However, there are unanswered questions about meaning that bother me. The answer "it doesn't mean anything" is as unsatisfying as the explanations "it was all a dream," "it was the drugs," or "he was insane."

Though "selling out" doesn't appear to be an explicit theme, it happens several times near the end. Perhaps this is to highlight that there are principles, and there is pragmatism.

Gibson's best and most substantial novel since Idoru.
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(4 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)
lesismore9o9, May 7, 2009 (view all comments by lesismore9o9)
There aren’t many writers alive today who are credited with creating an entire genre of literature, but the realm of cyberpunk still has its founder in William Gibson. He didn’t invent the term – author Bruce Bethke coined it in 1980 with the eponymous short story – and authors such as Bruce Sterling and Pat Cadigan also made significant contributions, but it’s Gibson who made it mainstream and earned the title of “noir prophet.” 1984’s “Neuromancer” was an imaginative epic, seeing ideas of cyberspace and virtual reality before personal computers were even mainstream.

After following “Neuromancer” with a series of equally speculative novels, Gibson has turned his vision into the modern world, where advancements in technology has caught up with several of his innovations – but also verified his predictions of control and paranoia. “Spook Country” is the second of these novels, and it proves everything readers have come to expect from him: tense, innovative and superbly written.

Set in February 2006, “Spook Country” centers on the activities of three very different individuals. Hollis Henry, former lead singer of punk band The Curfew, is now a music journalist assigned to cover the elusive technical genius Bobby Chombo, a pioneer of creating virtual reality artwork. Tito, a musician and member of a Cuban criminal family, is contracted to deliver coded iPods to an old man with intelligence background. And Milgrim, a drug addict with a penchant for stolen coats, is abducted by a government official and forced to translate Russian code in exchange for continual drug doses.

All three of these characters find themselves involved in a strange plot, involving a “phantom” shipping container that seems to pop up in various locations. Eccentric entrepreneur Hubertus Bigend (first seen in Gibson’s earlier “Pattern Recognition”) simply wants to know what it is, the old man wants to get Tito close to it and a shady maybe-government operative wants Milgrim to help him learn what Tito knows. It’s a constantly vague tale, with the true intent and content never clear to the players even when they think their lives could be in danger.

Even with an overarching conspiracy the book could easily become fragmented, but it’s held together by the same fact that made “Neuromancer” so popular 25 years ago: Gibson is a writer of remarkable skill. His phrasing is descriptive without being overwhelming, and creates a sense of immersion in both the grime of New York City and the unsettling modernity of Los Angeles. On the character side the dialogue is terse and realistic, conversations feeling natural and each character’s voice defined.

With the exception of Chombo’s virtual reality art (images broadcast in public places, only visible with VR helmets) Gibson doesn’t spend his time speculating on future technology. Rather, his focus is on how current technology infiltrates our lives and changes the order of business, ranging from iPods encoded with secret data to portable door alarms to tracking devices in cell phone scramblers. The feeling established is one of paranoia and disconnect, a sense that you’re never quite sure if you’re being watched or if it even matters.

And dealing with this paranoia is “Spook Country’s” strength. Hollis, Tito and Milgrim aren’t even featured in the same chapter until two-thirds of the way in (and even then only share one scene) but each one deals with their strange circumstances in their own solitary way, be it faith or drugs or attempting to apply reason. Each character fixates on certain objects throughout the course of the book – envelopes of money, blue vases and books on European religion – and this adds to the feeling each is trying to stay grounded in unfamiliar circumstances.

There are many other threads – the threat of government control after 9/11, information lost in the shuffle of bureaucracy, celebrity gone by and the oddities of the rich – and the tension in each goes to make our own world as immersive as “Neuromancer’s” cyberspace. It’s to Gibson’s credit that he can not only perceive the way these influences have shaped us, but express it in such a dark, eminently readable piece of literature as “Spook Country.”
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780399154300
Author:
Gibson, William
Publisher:
Putnam Adult
Subject:
Political
Subject:
Science Fiction - General
Subject:
Science Fiction - High Tech
Subject:
Intelligence officers
Subject:
Science / High Tech
Subject:
Suspense fiction
Subject:
Science / General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
August 7, 2007
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
8
Language:
English
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
14

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Adventure

Spook Country Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Putnam Publishing Group - English 9780399154300 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

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.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'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.)"
"Review" by , "Part thriller, part spy novel, part speculative fiction, Gibson's provocative work is like nothing you have ever read before. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "If Gibson's vision has got bleaker, his eye for the eerie in the everyday still lends events an otherworldly sheen."
"Review" by , "It's an entertaining yarn, but by Gibson's standards, one that feels featherweight. Given its subject matter, you'd expect it to have a greater sense of consequence."
"Review" by , "[T]he pleasure of Gibson's prose would be enough inducement for most of us to immerse ourselves in this book the way Tito longs to immerse himself in the rich warmth of a bowl of duck soup."
"Review" by , "[A] puzzle palace of bewitching proportions and stubborn echoes."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "There's a lot of gloss, attitude and atmosphere to this essentially straightforward adventure tale imbued with the sensibilities of post 9/11 America."
"Review" by , "Spook Country is beautiful, clever, timely and dead-on ironic."
"Review" by , "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. He has managed to convert his cybernetic future into present tense."
"Synopsis" by , Gibson's first new book in four years is, like the bestselling and critically acclaimed Pattern Recognition, a contemporary novel with international implications.
"Synopsis" by ,
William Gibson returns with his first novel since 2010s New York Times–bestselling Zero History.

Where Flynne and her brother, Burton, live, jobs outside the drug business are rare. Fortunately, Burton has his veterans benefits, for neural damage he suffered from implants during his time in the USMCs elite Haptic Recon force. Then one night Burton has to go out, but theres a job hes supposed to do—a job Flynne didnt know he had. Beta-testing part of a new game, he tells her. The job seems to be simple: work a perimeter around the image of a tower building. Little buglike things turn up. Hes supposed to get in their way, edge them back. Thats all there is to it. Hes offering Flynne a good price to take over for him. What she sees, though, isnt what Burton told her to expect. It might be a game, but it might also be murder.

"Synopsis" by ,
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.

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