three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
31-Nov-Dec-2007
user_rating: 
0

A-Spook CountryDown on her luck, former rock star Hollis Henry accepts a freelance assignment with hip new magazine Node on "locative art"—painstaking virtual reality recreations of celebrity deaths that can be viewed only with special helmets in certain places. Shortly after she interviews Bobby Chombo, an eccentric VR software designer, he inexplicably vanishes. Meanwhile, Tito smuggles information in modified iPods for his Chinese-Cuban crime family, and Milgrim, a paranoid, drug-addicted translator, is held captive by the sinister Brown, who may be working for the government. All three paths converge in the hunt for the mysterious contents of a cargo container that disappeared from a ship in the South China Sea.
Putnam. 384 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0399154302

NO Times-Picayune 4.5 of 5 Stars
"This is vintage Gibson: brilliant, inventive language; the sense of contemporaneity, yet timelessness; the completely invented, highly charged atmosphere; a consideration of issues as diverse as moral choice, celebrity culture and ‘viral’ advertising. … You’ll be thinking about your role in the virtual world long after you finish this compelling novel, but you’re going to enjoy your stay in William Gibson’s alternate universe." Susan Larson

Los Angeles Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"There’s something deliciously sinister in the fact that the antihero forms the most obvious link between Gibson’s two most recent novels. … Despite its thriller trappings, Spook Country is a puzzle palace of bewitching proportions and stubborn echoes." Ed Park

Rocky Mountain News 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Like Gibson’s other books, Spook Country offers a complex vision of a world in which art and military technology cross paths, where iPods and wireless Internet layer virtual reality on the physical world, and where sometimes the greatest commodity is information. It deserved stronger characters to carry the book’s grand ideas." Vince Darcangelo

San Diego Union-Tribune 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Spook Country is a thriller discernible only by its thin vapor trails; determining the precise paths followed by its various threads is probably impossible and most assuredly beside the point. What Gibson has in fact zeroed in on—in four dimensions and counting—is this instant in our species’ geometrically accelerating history, a chilly flashpoint intersection of mind, body, place, time and (say it) cyberspace." Arthur Salm

Newsday 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Gibson is such an evocative writer that you experience Spook Country less as a failure (which seems too harsh a judgment for a book that keeps you engaged and turning the pages) than a disappointment. And part of that disappointment is because Gibson merely suggests, rather than explores, the best of the ideas he comes up with here." Charles Taylor

Critical Summary

William Gibson coined the term "cyberspace" and foresaw the future of the Internet in his 1984 debut, Neuromancer. He once again explores nascent technologies and their impact on society in Spook Country, in which he confronts politics, mass media, and pop culture. Critics who praised Spook Country, a sequel of sorts to Pattern Recognition (2003), saw it as a chilling snapshot of a world gone mad, while those who expected a more conventional thriller were disappointed. Several panned the plot’s lack of momentum and unsatisfying conclusion. (Gibson has admitted that he was halfway through the book before he himself had any idea what was in the cargo container.) However, Gibson’s unsurpassable prose and astute, timely commentary on modern society make Spook Country a page-turner and a welcome addition to his growing oeuvre.