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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No time like the present
I picked this book up from a second-hand stall to take on a trip to New York (which is the location for much of its action). I've enjoyed a fair number of Gibson's science fiction books - most recently his excellent Burning Chrome collection - but this time I've read one of his novels which has a contemporary setting.

That setting is hard to discern at first,...
Published on 23 Nov 2011 by Jeremy Walton

versus
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ideas and style - yes - plot and characters - no
Hollis is an rock star turned journalist looking to break a story for a mysterious new employer. Tito is an ethnically complex scion of a family with links into the cuban (and other) secret services. He is employed to pass iPods containing complex data to a mysterious old man. Milgrim has been kidnapped by the shady Brown, who may or may not be part of the US secret...
Published on 1 Jan 2008 by P. G. Harris


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No time like the present, 23 Nov 2011
By 
Jeremy Walton (Sidmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spook Country (Paperback)
I picked this book up from a second-hand stall to take on a trip to New York (which is the location for much of its action). I've enjoyed a fair number of Gibson's science fiction books - most recently his excellent Burning Chrome collection - but this time I've read one of his novels which has a contemporary setting.

That setting is hard to discern at first, as Gibson writes about the present in the same way he writes about the future - as a uneasy, unfamiliar world of hidden meanings and secrets underpinned by a technology which has been put to new and unexpected uses. It's a world where practitioners of locative art create installations in public places that can only be seen by wearers of VR headsets, where iPods are used as mules to smuggle mysterious data to Cuba and back again, and where a container is tracked from ship to ship at sea over a period of many years. A persistent - but quietly stated - underlying theme of the story is post-9/11 espionage, although much of the writing is timeless: for example, there are some memorable bon-mots (e.g. "secrets are the the very root of cool") and noteworthy and insightful technological asides such as this one (p120):

"Organized religion, he saw [...], had been purely a signal-to-noise proposition, at once the medium and the message, a one-channel universe. For Europe, that channel was Christian, and broadcasting from Rome, but nothing could be broadcast faster than a man could travel on horseback. There was a hierarchy in place, and a highly organized methodology of top-down signal dissemination, but the the time lag enforced by tech-lack imposed a near-disastrous ratio, the noise of heresy constantly threatening to overwhelm the signal."

The story unfolds at a leisurely pace as it follows journalist Hollis Henry on the trail of locative artist Bobby Chombo in LA, a young Cuban called Tito and a shadowy old man in New York, and Brown the secret agent who's forcing a drug addict called Milgrim to do his Russian translation for him. The climax brings all parties together in a more-or-less satisfactory conclusion, but the real value of the story lies in the journey up to that point.

Finally, it should be mentioned that this is the second part of Gibson's so-called Blue Ant trilogy, in which it's sandwiched between - and shares some characters with - Pattern Recognition and Zero History, but I wasn't conscious of missing anything owing to not having (yet) read those other two books.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another winner from Gibson, 3 Sep 2007
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This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
It took me a few chapters to really get into this but once I did I found it hard to put down. As usual with Gibson, he comes up with some cultural movements that I hadn't been aware of until I picked the book up: guerrilla marketing in Pattern Recognition and this time locative art. Technological trends aside, Gibson has a wonderful way with language. His sentences tend to be punchy like Raymond Chandler but far more poetic at the same time. I could really just read this book for his use of words- the plot is just extra icing on top. I can picture each scene with a cinema type clarity that few other authors achieve (for me at least) I love the little details he gives us. GSG-9 Adidas swat shoes? How cool. Only little quibble: covert ear pieces as used by the likes of Brown do not have wires attached to them. They work on induction loops like modern hearing aides and have done so for many years.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary science fiction spy thriller, 16 Aug 2007
By 
Mikko Saari (Tampere, Finland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
Spook Country is a science fiction spy thriller set in our times; 2006, to be exact. Hollis Henry is a former rock star, now a journalist, set to write a piece on locative art based on the use of GPS systems and other locative technology. This leads her to Bobby Chombo, a strange guy who knows the ins and outs of military navigation systems. Tito is a member of Chinese-Cuban crime family trained in Russian military martial arts and espionage ways, asked to deliver iPods to a certain old man. Milgrim, a drug addict fluent in Russian and able to translate Volapuk encoding, is being held captive by Brown, some sort of operator, perhaps with the government, perhaps not.

It's an interesting mess that sorts out itself eventually. Gibson mixes all sorts of cool concepts and crazy ideas and curious details together to form a rather gripping book. Old spies come out of the woodwork for one last round - the big idea they're working to achieve, that's something quite different and unusual. Gibson's writing is clear and beautiful; I really enjoy his style. With Neal Stephenson he's one of those writers who will tell you a great story and pepper it with all kinds of unnecessary details that'll get your brain tingling and curiosity running.

If you liked Pattern Recognition, his previous novel, you'll enjoy this (and you'll even meet few old friends, too!). Like Pattern Recognition, Spook Country is full enough of contemporary cultural references and trademarks to tie it firmly to our time and make it age in a rather charmful manner. While these trademarks serve less purpose than they did in Pattern Recognition, I believe this book is written to readers who care if the laptop used by the protagonist is a PowerBook or not.

Excellent book, one of the best I've read in a long while.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gosh, I wish I lived in this world. Oh! I do!, 27 Aug 2007
By 
Diziet "I Like Toast" (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
I've read all William Gibson's books. The Neuromancer trilogy was just wonderful. But then, slowly, his books changed; through Idoru, All Tomorrow's Parties and then Pattern Recognition, he moved into a different time. Not really a different genre though. I mean, you could say that Pattern Recognition and Spook Country are thrillers, spy novels, but they're not. They're really not.

Whenever I read a Gibson novel, I find myself wishing that I lived in his world. But then I realise that, basically, I do. And that's what's so magical about them. It's Gibson's take on our existing world that makes you look at it in a new way, from a new perspective. Surely that must be one of the greatest things a novelist can do. His prose is so tight, so condensed and yet has so many echoes, so many extra-cultural references that it's like reading a novel, a map, a web-page, a history book all wrapped up together.

Look up Hubertus Bigend on Wikipedia. That's what one of his characters does. If you do, you'll find an entry referencing this book. This kind of reflexivity is central to this book. The merging of quite separate worlds - rock music, money laundering, marketing, geo-politics, voodoo religion - suggests a side of globalisation not explored anywhere else in this form. Referring to global brand names is simply one side of this - a Brabus Maybach for heaven's sake! (have a look at the Brabus web-site, with sound on) - just grounds this in something akin to a material fantasy.

In some ways, the characters represent these different worlds, or at least different aspects of them. Milgrim, addicted to Ativan (1987 Ativan advertisement. "In a world where certainties are few...no wonder Ativan® (lorazepam)C-IV is prescribed by so many caring clinicians.") seemingly captured by Brown (the secret agent?), finally just walks away, free to go back to his favourite book on the history of heresy. Brown, scary but fundamentally old school and out of his depth, violent in his ignorance, Tito, of indeterminate race and innocent esoteric skills, Hollis, ex obscure rock star, lost all her money in the dot com bubble, cynical, worldly-wise, and Bigend, manipulative but still somehow childlike, playing with ideas and technologies.

The story is good. The characters are good. The premise is good. The execution almost faultless. A gripping read. A fab book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gibson still at the top of his game, 25 Aug 2008
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This review is from: Spook Country (Paperback)
It took me a few chapters to really get into this but once I did I found it hard to put down. As usual with Gibson, he comes up with some cultural movements that I hadn't been aware of until I picked the book up: guerrilla marketing in Pattern Recognition and this time locative art. Technological trends aside, Gibson has a wonderful way with language. His sentences tend to be punchy like Raymond Chandler but far more poetic at the same time. I could really just read this book for his use of words- the plot is just extra icing on top. I can picture each scene with a cinema type clarity that few other authors achieve (for me at least) I love the little details he gives us. GSG-9 Adidas swat shoes? How cool. Only little quibble: covert ear pieces as used by the likes of Brown do not have wires attached to them. They work on induction loops like modern hearing aides and have done so for many years.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ideas and style - yes - plot and characters - no, 1 Jan 2008
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
Hollis is an rock star turned journalist looking to break a story for a mysterious new employer. Tito is an ethnically complex scion of a family with links into the cuban (and other) secret services. He is employed to pass iPods containing complex data to a mysterious old man. Milgrim has been kidnapped by the shady Brown, who may or may not be part of the US secret service, to decifer texts between Tito and his family. In the background Hubertus Bigend, reappearing from Pattern Recognition, is pulling strings. All have links to a mysterious container travelling the world's shipping lanes.

While there is complexity in the plot, the actual narrative drive is extremly thin and loose ends are left hanging all over the place. Also the characters are focii for Gibsons ideas rather than flesh and blood people.

But that said, does one read Gibson for depth of characterisation, well not really.

Gibsons strengths of snappy prose, of reflecting comtemporary socity, and of generating ideas are really to the fore here. He is in playful mood, deliberately referencing Count Zero, and introducing the idea of Cyberspace turning itself inside out.

This book is really a fairly thin technological thriller which sits on top of an interesting description of and extrapolation from a networked, branded society.

Not great, but well worth reading
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 3 Oct 2007
By 
S. Murphy (Bolton, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
Gibson's writing style makes it a pleasure to read his books whatever the content. That said this book is really rather plodding and lacking in surprises.

Basically a kind of spy novel the author spins a tale with a number of sub-plots which ultimately come together for the, rather flat, denouement. While the characters are generally well fleshed, this is a genre which Gibson does not make his own. The novel never engages the reader: there is a complete lack of emotion throughout and his fascination with Voodoo (Vudun?) adds nothing but a rather bizarre feeling to the whole.

There are interesting precursors to the scientific and social changes which characterise the world of his earlier work but these are really of superficial import internally. Aficionados of Gibson's work will be very disappointed with this book.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, But Less Kinetic, Fictional Exploration Of Our Time From William Gibson, 9 Aug 2008
By 
John Kwok (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Spook Country (Paperback)
There's probably no one else I can think of who can write so vividly, and inquisitively, about our contemporary techno-psychological landscape than William Gibson. His 2003 novel "Pattern Recognition" remains among the best - if not the best (of which I am certain) - fictional depiction of American media-obsessed culture in the aftermath of 9/11. It was also his best novel in years, a riveting techno-thriller about "cool hunter" Cayce Pollard's search for the mysterious internet "The Footage" which had acquired a most bizarre cult-like status amongst Internet lurkers. "Spook Country", Gibson's latest novel, is a sequel of sorts, introducing us once more to the enigmatic Belgian advertising mogul Hubertus Bigend, owner of Big Ant advertising firm. This time he sends another young woman, Hollis Henry, an investigative journalist for Node - a magazine which doesn't exist yet - on a rather mundane quest to find one Bobby Chombo, a "producer", whose day job involves checking out military navigation gear. We encounter her, early one morning, in a Los Angeles hotel room, on assignment for Node, collecting information on the local underground artistic movement of virtual reality-based "locative art" for an article in the nascent magazine's debut issue. In classic William Gibson literary mode, there are two other subplots which represent other, still larger, pieces of the puzzle that Henry is seeking to solve, involving Tito, a young Cuban Chinese New Yorker whose family has had intelligence ties to both the CIA and KGB, and the Russian-speaking junkie Milgrim, addicted to expensive prescription high-anxiety drugs, who finds himself quite literally, "joined to the hip" with his pharmaceutical benefactor, the mysterious Brown, someone who has some hidden ties to a military, most likely Russia's.

Looming over this entire fictional landscape is of course Hubertus Bigend himself, who doesn't appear until the end of the first third of "Spook Country". Here, more so than "Pattern Recognition", he comes across as some omniscient "Intelligent Designer", orchestrating the events as they unfold, with the other principal characters - especially Hollis, herself - acting as puppets in some vast marionette theater of his own uniquely Byzantine design. We will learn that Bigend has chosen Henry for his mission since she's a former member of the rock band The Curfew, which, apparently, has had ties to Bobby Chombo. There's a memorable chase scene that plays out along the sidewalks - and one restaurant - of New York City's Union Square (New York City finally makes its literary debut in a Gibson novel, and to his credit, Gibson does a splendid job depicting its unique urban rhythms.). Eventually, the three plot lines converge and intersect, in an ornate, yet tidy, resolution in Gibson's hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia (The Canadian seaport, like New York City, also makes its literary debut in a Gibson novel.). There are references of course to contemporary events, such as the American occupation of Iraq, but Gibson presents them as if they were the literary equivalent of a GOOGLE search, allowing the reader to decide their relevant significance to the novel's unfolding events in a decidedly neutral manner.

"Spook Country" is definitely not one of William Gibson's best novels, but an inferior novel from him is still far more fascinating than many best novels I have read from other, lesser novelists who lack his uncanny ability to depict in hallucinatory, lyrical prose, our Internet-dominated culture (It's an artistic trait I'd expect from the same writer who coined the term "cyberspace" years ago, before the Internet was created as the central, unifying information repository of our time.). It is still one of the best literary achievements in fiction published this year, and one that is artistically, if not stylistically, similar to the themes explored by Rick Moody in his recently published novella collection "Right Livelihoods". Along with "Right Livelihoods", "Spook Country" is the most compelling piece of newly published fiction I have read this summer. Without question, it is still a memorable novel from someone whom I regard as the most important writer of our time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal book, 13 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Spook Country (Hardcover)
This is a phenomenal book and I highly recommend it. I love that you don’t need to have read the previous books to understand what’s happening but it’s recommended. Wonderful part to the blue ant series. Really worth the read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars quality review, 21 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Spook Country (Paperback)
good quality condition with no damage to it. i had no issues of any kind when i used this product
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