wirespeed

the hypothetical maximum data transmission rate of a telecommunications medium

William Gibson, Spook Country

Posted by dlandgren on 2009-06-10

spook_countryJust finished the latest from Gibson (or at least the latest as far as I am concerned). I started a couple of months ago and got stuck on the first chapter and put it down again. I picked it up again a couple of weeks ago this time it caught, and I fairly raced through it.

It follows the standard Gibson convention of having N independent players doing their thing on separate paths, and then converging linearly to the story’s climax. In this case it’s a riff on the Repo Man suitcase-in-the-trunk-of-the-car, and no-one’s really quite sure what’s in it. There’s the inevitable omniscient puppet-master with unlimited deep pockets (and a mag lev bed). There’s no sex on the bed, but then again, I don’t read Gibson to read love stories.

Technology is still present, although in a much more muted form than his earlier works. The cyberpunk theme has been stripped out, and the result is a fairly sharp social commentary.

Two things really annoyed me. The first was the ease with which the various characters in the book managed to snag open wifi networks. These days they’re rarer than you think. I’ve even reconfigured my own router at home to lock down my network. And from what I’ve read, free municipal wifi isn’t very widespread in America. The second plot flaw was an accident where a car crashes at high speed into a lamp post outside a bar… and the two occupants more or less walk away unhindered.

That said, it’s an entertaining yarn with lots of wry observations of 21st century life done with Gibson’s razored turns of phrase. And when the mysterious secret is finally revealed, it’s not so much of an anticlimax as in All Tomorrow’s Parties or Idoru. In fact, it’s quite credible. I give him credit for taking a fairly simple plot and weaving a couple of hundred pages around it.

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One Response to “William Gibson, Spook Country”

  1. I could never get past chapter 4 in Spook Country, but i have trouble with Gibson’s novels in general. Love his short stories to pieces, though.

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