Saturday, September 25, 2021

58. Spook Country by William Gibson

I found the hardcover, first edition (from 2007 so not a huge deal, but still) of this for $1 at Value Village on Bloor St. West in Toronto.  My nephew expressed zero excitement when I gleefully showed him that it was signed.  William Gibson is probably one of my favourite authors.  Neuromancer was a massive influence on the way I see the world and love science fiction today.  I suspect it hit me at such a vulnerable age that some of his style and outlook imprinted on me so that today I may lack a critical eye on his work.  All that is to say I really enjoyed Spook Country.  

I actually haven't read Gibson since I think Virtual Light, when it came out, though I have a vague memory of having also read All Tomorrow's Parties as well.  Now that I have been re-introduced to him, I am going to have to keep an eye out for his other books.  Spook Country is a moden-day spy story from 2007 where the tech is actually outdated today.  Despite that, Gibson delivers all the tech theory stuff in a really interesting way that makes this book a marker of that time with some interesting thoughts for the present.

Ultimately, it's just a cool spy story, not particularily epic in nature, but the cool characters and intriguing set up keeps you turning the pages.  It has 3 main characters, each their own storylines that will of course eventually collide.  Milgrim is the educated addict kidnapped by a mysterious operative who makes him translate intercepted Russian text messages.  Hollis is the ex-lead singer of a semi-popular '90s band turned journalist hunting down a virtual reality designer.  Tito is the young member of a Cuban-Chinese espionage/crime family trained by Castro's KGB allies.  The last is really cool, a migrant parkourist and expert in systema, the family's anti-surveillance technique, who is basically kept in the dark until his skills are needed.

It doesn't quite end as satisfyingly as one would like, given how compelling their set-ups are.  The world and the characters are so enjoyable that you nevertheless don't want it to end and can forgive the mellow conclusion. 

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