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Spook Country Paperback – 31 Jul 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (31 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014101671X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141016719
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 608,269 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


A cool, sophisticated thriller (Financial Times )

Very entertaining (Independent on Sunday )

Superb, brilliant. A compulsive and deeply intelligent literary thriller (New Statesman )

A neat, up-to-the-minute spy thriller (Metro )

The present needs Gibson more than ever (Dazed & Confused )

Fascinating (Sunday Express )

Fiction with an intensely modern feel. Above all, it's exciting (The London Paper )

A brilliantly appointed world (Arena )

I'd call the book brilliant and original if only I were certain I understood it (Literary Review )

About the Author

William Gibson is the award-winning author of Pattern Recognition, Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive, The Difference Engine, Virtual Light, Idoru and All Tomorrow’s Parties. He lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jeremy Walton TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Nov. 2011
Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 wonder Ativan® (lorazepam)C-IV is prescribed by so many caring clinicians.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've just finished this (my latest) William Gibson tale and loved it. His departure from the 'cyberpunk' genre in 'Pattern Recognition' is continued in this intriguing story; some of which follows 'Pattern Recognition,' but not as a sequel. 'Spook Country' is a refreshing tour of the USA with the usual, imaginative Gibson take on technology involved in, but not central to, the plot. It's probably too challenging to state a full synopsis of an ex- punk rocker trying to establish a new career as a journalist, simply because of the parallel sub-plots that fill out the story in a fascinating way. It has humour and a somewhat cynical view of life in the States, wrapped in a plot that grabbed my attention from the start and held it to the satisfying end. Gibson's mastery of the English language, as always, is a delight.

I loved it, especially having enjoyed 'Pattern Recognition' shortly before. I'd recommend 'Pattern Recognition' first to give added depth, but it's by no means essential: 'Spook Country' can stand on its own merits perfectly well. I'm looking forward to moving on to 'Mona Lisa Overdrive' next as a return to the original sci-fi series (it's in my Kindle already).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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