spook country

I finished William Gibson’s new book today. It’s kind of a strange departure for the king of cyberpunk–to write a novel set in the present, with basically recognizable technology–but I thought he explained it pretty well in today’s NY Times Magazine.

I bought this book because I thought I was going to get to hear Gibson read when he was in town this week and I wanted to have read it first, but I ended up being too tired to go and stand in line. I saw (heard?) Gibson read probably ten years ago in Berkeley (around the time that Idoru was published), and I was really looking forward to seeing him again, but it just didn’t work out this go round.

I can’t say I thought this was Gibson’s best book, but I did think he had some interesting things to say. Like much of his work, there are multiple story tracks that all tie in together eventually, and one of my major problems in engaging with it was that I really wasn’t into one of the major characters (Milgrim, a junkie) in one of the three plots. I also found the writing somewhat disjointed–there were chapters that were only a page-and-a-half long, and when when you’re trying to track three plots, that’s not too helpful.

But I can’t think of anyone who has more insight into the ways we use–and are used by–our technology than Gibson. And his portrayal of the life of a minor celebrity is witty and revelatory.

I’ve been a fan of Gibson’s since I first read Neuromancer in the early ’90s. I read his blog, which is spare and elegant. And I’ll keep buying his books as long as he keeps writing them, or until they have some other method of publishing them. Not every one has to rocket out of the park. This one’s more along the lines of a grounder base hit.


August 19, 2007. books for grown-ups.


  1. Kimberly replied:

    Luuuuurve Neuromancer. I saw this in the bookstore today and thought about getting it, but back to school shopping ruled the day. sigh.

  2. Sam Pratt replied:

    I share your view that while there are many interesting observations and ideas in here, I found it disappointing as a whole. The characters are flat, and the culminating scene which purports to tie the various plot threads together struck me as artificial, forced and hollow.

    I was delighted when I heard that Gibson would have another book out this summer, reserved a copy at a local bookstore, picked it up on the day of release, and devoured it in 24 hours.

    But it gave me a stomachache, and a headache. My full review is at the link below:


  3. alala replied:

    There’s a Guardian article here with a bit more about Spook Country and why he chose to set it in the present.

  4. chichimama replied:

    It is on my too read list, I love his stuff. And had no idea he had a blog!

  5. Jennifer replied:

    This reminds me, I’ve never read Gibson’s work and have always meant to. I’ll be sure not to start with this one, though : )

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