In his new novel Spook Country, William Gibson take science fiction to an amazing, unseen world: the recent past. Following on from his 2003 novel, Pattern Recognition
, Spook Country tells the story of a cadre of spies, artists, and losers who collide in the roiling turmoil of twenty-first century, destabilized geopolitics.
The cast of characters in this book is gigantic and deeply weird. There's Hollis Henry, a faded pop star who finds herself covering the "locative art scene" for a magazine that may or may not exist -- and that may or may not be associated with Hubertus Bigend, the powerful and lunatic branding exec from Pattern Recognition. Hollis injects the novel with introspection about fame, micro-fame, fleeting fame, and art.
There's Tito, a kind of Cuban ninja, trained by the KGB and raised by a family of heroic spooks, now come to America and gone to ground. He is the excuse for a series of marvellous and meticulously researched spycraft sequences that have the technical fascination of the best technothrillers.
There's Brown, a savage wet-work off-the-books American spook (who may or may not still work for the US government), and his hostage, a junkie translator who is cuffed and kicked into listening in on the Russo-Cuban connection. Brown acts as a kind of meditation on the nature of deep secrecy, the unknowable world of the black-ops spook who can never be sure who he's working for and whether he's gone off the reservation.
Then there's the "locative art" kids, "VR" hackers who create 3D virtual sculptures that can only be seen while wearing goggles and standing in just the right place. These kids are Gibson's nod to his bastard child, "cyberspace," the word he coined in 1982, which has been pimped out by every dot-bomb con-man and gormless policy wonk in the world at this point.
These characters inhabit the exciting, futuristic world of 2006. And it is a futuristic place, our recent past, a place so weird and light-speed that we don't even notice it. Not until a master storyteller and keen observer like William Gibson comes along to show us what we're all living in.
Above all else, this is an exciting and vivid adventure novel, a book that you can't put down (I ended up sitting in a parking lot for an hour, unable to tear myself away from the last 70 pages). That is Gibson's special talent, the thing that makes him -- and science fiction -- such a powerful force for change in the world. Gibson has an agenda, a lot of keen observations, a philosophy, but they're wrapped up in a delightful coating of adventure and excitement.
It's a hard combination to beat -- a book that makes you smarter and sets your pulse racing while it fires your imagination. It's been four long years since we had a new Gibson novel, but it was worth the wait. This may be my favorite Gibson book of all time.
William Gibson explains why science fiction is about the present
William Gibson on writing in the age of Google
In the late 1960s and 1970s, the mind-expanding modus operandi of the counterculture spread into the realm of science, and shit got wonderfully weird. Neurophysiologist John Lilly tried to talk with dolphins. Physicist Peter Phillips launched a parapsychology lab at Washington University. Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill became an evangelist for space colonies. Groovy Science: Knowledge, […]
Timothy Ellis’ galaxy spanning space opera continues in Hero at the Gates! We’re 9 damn books in and the central plot is finally about to get past its prelude! I’ve really enjoyed this massive story. 9 novels ago Jon Hunter was a wet behind the ears kid on board his uncle’s space trader. Now he’s […]
Modern civilization has all but disappeared. It falls to a fearless, dedicated and slap-stick bunch known as Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors to help humanity recover. With help like this, you might be better off on your own! Benjamin Wallace’s first installment in the Duck and Cover series is a quick and witty read. We find America […]
Learning is a 24/7/365 proposition, and it never ends. And if you’re truly serious about leveling up your skill sets and career prospects, get a subscription to Stone River Academy’s massive course collection. This offer normally is worth over $1,400, but is now available for just $89 in the Boing Boing Store.A respected name in information technology […]
Home audio has taken some big leaps forward in recent years–not just in terms of sound quality, but also in the style department. The FRESHeBAR Leather Soundbar, now 56% off in the Boing Boing Store, is proof.The FRESHeBAR comes packing almost all the options you’d ever need for a home sound system, including Bluetooth streaming capabilities.The unit’s 90 […]
Much of what goes into creating an amazing photo happens in the digital darkroom. Here’s your chance to master all things photo editing: the Ultimate Adobe Photo Editing Bundle, now available in the Boing Boing Store for just $29.99.Across 8 courses and over 41 hours of intensive instruction, you’ll learn the fundamentals of Adobe’s suite of photo […]