Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Title:Spook Country
Author: William Gibson
Publisher: Viking

When Hollis is offered a gig with Node magazine she takes it. Ex-singer with cult band, The Curfew, she is trying to recreate herself as a journalist. Node is a European Wired, British money or Belgian money, or something. Though, no one she knows has heard about it, as long as her expenses are paid she will continue to research the piece on locative art she has been asked to do. But there are background forces at work, and her project is nudged by shadowy hands towards a man who is hiding information that her boss would like.

Milgrim has been taken into custody. In theory. His captor, Brown, hasn't exactly been forthcoming with information. Milgrim is an expert in a particular form of Russian, an ex-political translator, now a junkie. Brown needs him to translate intercepted messages from a family of Cuban Chinese criminal facilitators - the kind of people who courier data, the middle men in an information trade. If Brown can get close enough, then he might be able to catch the Old Man and the information he is hiding.

Tito moved to New York from Cuba, his father gone through the course of shadowy works, his mother cracked under the aftermath of 9/11. But his extended family have seen he makes good, and Tito has special skills, they all do. His cousin is an expert forger, trained by his aunt, but Tito has the systema martial art and the spirit guides of ancestral religion. Tito's job is to take a piece of secret information from his supplier to an old man involved in the secret services.

Spook Country is the latest novel by William Gibson. Despite his resistance, it ties in to the threads of his previous novel Pattern Recognition. Pattern Recognition is set about 2003, in the ripples of 9/11. Spook Country comes in the wake of the resulting war on terror, a world of information and misinformation, where allegiances and beliefs have shifted. The novels are linked by Blue Ant, a modern PR company, more interested in information, and unique instances, than creating a reputation. The company is run by Hubertus Bigend, who turns up to push Hollis in the same way he did Cayce in the past.

Given Gibson's track record - Neuromancer followed by Count Zero then Mona Lisa Overdrive, Virtual Light followed by Idoru then All Tomorrows Parties - it would seem a distinct possibility that Pattern Recognition followed by Spook Country will give way to a third volume. Though speculation on that front is likely to go on for the next 3-4 years before another novel appears.

With each novel Gibson refines his writing style, toning and honing his words. For me he seems to have attained a new level with Spook Country. It is a common theme/plot in his work that the characters are in search of something - an art piece, an artist, a piece of information in that direction. Spook Country is no exception, Hollis is in search of the instigator of art, and the information he seeks, while other individuals seek the same information through different routes. With that, it feels like Gibson has written his artifact, he has created his own objet de art. The writing ever more convoluted, sculptured, that I find myself wrapping my brain around the detail. At times the book feels elusive and ephemeral, though it is not a constant sense, the novel building towards a point of focus and plot tension coming with that. It is a curious sensation reading Spook Country, one that had me taking it slowly, savouring the pauses as i put the book down to take it in, before picking it up once again.

Spook Country was published in August 2007, the paperback edition is due out the end of July.

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