Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Spook Country, by William Gibson

The master of cyberpunk and modern lexicon, the man who coined the term cyberspace, has left me wanting more. Again.

Spook Country manages to skillfully combine a number of diverse elements such as indie rock and celebrity, locative art, LA, NY, espionage in post-9/11 USA and the viral marketing company Blue Ant (which also featured in Pattern Recognition). It's a tale of the world that is hidden beneath the surface of the everday, something that is symbolised very well by the locative art installations - art that can be viewed at various locations using GPS and a VR headset. Only somebody with a headset and a wi-fi connection would know they are walking past River Phoenix's dead body outside the Viper Room in LA.

When Pattern Recognition was released, Neil Gaiman appeared on the book's accolades stating that "Gibson casts a master extrapolator's eye on our present, and shows it to us as if for the first time". This is the real beauty of both that book and this new one. The 2006 that Gibson is showing us in Spook Country is real - a world of IPod's, GPS, viral marketing, etc.

While the plot itself is not earth-shattering, it's such a super-cool and interesting tale that you can't help but turn the pages quickly as the threads of each character's story converge. I felt myself wishing I could somehow be a part of this world beneath the surface of everyday mundanity, and when the book ended I really felt that it was all over too soon.

I think I'm going to go back and read Pattern Recognition again!

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