Spook Country

spook-countryJust finished reading another cracking book last night, William Gibson’s “Spook Country”, and thought I may as well chuck a few words down about it while it’s still fresh in my head. Already started a Charlie Stross short stories collection so my mind may be warped for the next few days… Spook Country is an odd little book, part spy thriller, part action, part cyberpunk (obviously) and all very, very strange.

The story follows three separate people, a musician-turned-journalist called Hollis Henry, a young member of a New York-based Cuban mafia family called Tito, and the enigmatic Milgrim, a prescription drugs junkie forced into the services of the twisted Brown, who may or may not be working for the government. All find themselves caught up in the pursuit of a mysterious cargo container seemingly lost on a ship somewhere on the world’s oceans but containing a secret payload which several individuals or agencies will go to any lengths to uncover.

We follow this trio as they are played off against each other and along the way are treated to such entertaining diversions as an new artform, locative art, which is hosted in a virtual world overlaid onto ours and only accessible through virtual reality helmets. For me one of the highlights of the book were Tito’s gods, a pantheon of spirits who assist him whenever he engages his sytema, a form of martial arts, movement and stealth known only to his family. Each god, or group of gods, has its own speciality and will guide Tito when he needs to hide, fight or make his escape and their addition effortlessly brings a whole new dimension to what could otherwise have been fairly pedestrian action scenes.

The book’s not what I expected to be honest as I’d not read Gibson since I was in university, devouring Neuromancer, The Difference Engine, Virtual Light, etc, and as such it took me a good hundred pages to really get sucked into it. Once I became accustomed to the more conventional setting and characters I couldn’t put it down and the remainder of the book flashed past me. Well worth a read if you fancy something different that won’t tax the grey matter too much but will still give you food for though and leave your brain in a slightly different place for a good while afterwards.

2 responses to “Spook Country

  1. Also being a fan of WB’s cyberpunk stuff, still not sure if I should venture forth and pick this one up, depends on my mood.
    Nice review.
    Peace,

  2. I’d go for it if I were you, it’s still very much Gibson but with a slightly different backdrop. There’s enough going on there with the Virtual Reality side-story and the mysterious container (which put me in mind of the car in Repo Man for some reason) to turn it from a good spy thriller into a bit of a techno mindfuck.

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