Saturday, 8 June 2013

Spook Country

After slating it online earlier,
I've just finished the Spook Country unabridged audio novel. Must say I really, really enjoyed Spook Country 2nd time around as an audio book when I pretty much hated it first time around.

At first read Spook Country is definitely the most impenetrable, pretentious, inconsequential William Gibson novel. Given a second chance though, the ripe prose is beautifully poetic in places, the crazy detail is mostly surreal spy-fi (Hubertus Bigend's mag-lev bed, a bulgarian pistol that shoots salt, voodoo spirits that possess cuban spies) and the shaggy dog story plot is actually a very bitter Gibsonian version of Cohen Brother's moronic spy movie Burn After Reading. This is Gibson at his most political, and there are even supernatural overtones. He's always been a cool cold blooded writer, almost like Cronenberg or Brett Easton Ellis, but Spook Country is really seething with anger at the Bush era.

Spook Country's embarrassing tech, "locative art", that looked already out of date in 2010 now looks quite possible, as
'augmented reality', with the arrival of Google Glasses.

What I most like SC about it though is how it serves to set up Zero History. As if characters like Cayce Pollard in Pattern Recognition cannot be topped, he spends the majority of book II just setting up their replacements for book III, which is as much a direct continuation of Spook Country as Wes Anderson's Darjeeling Limited (something else 100% better second time around) is the main feature after apparently pointless the Hotel Chevalier short film which precedes it.

Of course this presents Zero History as a main feature, an epic modern spy tale, Thunderball set in the West End, when it actually is just another pretty silly London caper about a defunct rock band, an eccentric ad agency and a super secret pair of jeans ... but in these decades beyond Neuromancer you take your William Gibson with as much Wes Anderson as Bruce Sterling and you just learn to smile at the detail.

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