Saturday, January 06, 2024

1. Zero History by William Gibson

I rediscovered Gibson with, Spook Country, the second book in what is called the Blue Ant trilogy.  This is the conclusion and even though all 3 work alone and he doesn't really like to consider it a trilogy, it would have been better to have read them in order and closer together.  A lot of the value in this last book comes from knowing (and remembering) what happens in the first two, especially the second one.  I actually found this one to be quite a drag up until the end.  There just isn't much going on and Gibson as usual keeps the back story vague, sort of like a mystery.  The problem is I couldn't connect with any of the characters and nothing of what they were working seemed to have any impact until the backstory was sort of revealed and then it keeps getting explained over and over again.

The two main characters are Hollis Henry, the ex-singer of a successful 80s band and Milgrim, the now recovered pill addict.  Both are being led around on various missions by Hubertus Bigend, the corporate hipster super-boss of design/marketing/whatever firm Blue Ant who is the puppet master in all 3 books.  They are on the hunt for various clothes and the designers who made them that are somehow connected to military uniform contracting.  It's all a bit convoluted and obscure and much of the action in the beginning is them going from hotel to hotel in different European cities with maybe some people following them and maybe not.  I found it all a bit boring and sadly Gibson's excellent prose style that I usually love seems to come off pretentious and tired.

It does pull itself together in the end somewhat, with a somewhat cool hostage exchange whose conclusion connects all 3 books.  There is a very arbitrary unromantic reconnection between Hollis and her ex-boyfriend that I guess was supposed to move us and a more effective one between Milgrim who comes out of his manipulated addict shell and a motorcycle courier, but ultimately it all left me unmoved.  It may have been more effective had I read Spook Country just before but overall it just felt like an unnecessary stretching out of a story that just didn't have that much substance to it.  Too bad. 

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