Wiscon program item noted without comment: "Something Is Wrong on the Internet!"
Mother's Day Dinner last night

Reading William Gibson's Spook Country


Last summer David bought a signed copy on William Gibson's Spook County in Seattle, and I found it this weekened on the night table on his side of the bed in our house in upstate NY. I read it on Mother's Day, half in the morning before going out to brunch with the kids, and the other half when I got home to Pleasantville, waiting for David to wake up from his nap to take me out to dinner. (He didn't wake up until I was almost finished with the book, so we're having Mother's day Dinner tonight, I think.)

By chance, the book covers a lot of the same thematic ground as my blog. Odd happenings involving piracy and Somalia, clownish espionage or pseudo-espionage, data visualization, international intrigue, privatized military and intelligence operations, etc. So there were a lot of details in the book to engage me, and for me to measure against various random facts encountered during the Bush years. And it is a very Bush Era book.

There were a certain number of intriguing ideas raised but which did not pay off. The one I most wanted to hear about was the idea of a "cold civil war" going on within the United States. Maybe he'll actually use it in a subsequent book, but in this book it was a toss-off line in a bit of good dialog.

William Gibson corrupted by the influence of Charles N. Brown

The book has lots of hip characters in settings and clothes that Gibson takes the time to describe -- but which descriptions I find I mostly didn't retain because these aspects did not cling to their character in the standard Jamesian sort of way. Rather, the clothes and settings felt more like superficial packaging on physics-style Beobachters on the way to their Bush-era date with doom.

The book is a page-turner full of good scenes and snappy dialog. But in the end, except for an ex-Blackwater spear carrier or two, no one gets hurt much. Instead, they go to Canada, where the inevitable and dangerous conflicts sort of evaporate and characters from competing sides  seem to be in process of forming a band or something, leaving them all available for use in whatever book is coming next.

I'm not sure how I feel about myself for being disappointed that none of them died. Is the ending unrealistic?

The strengths of this book are in its individual scenes, in its moments of insight, glimpses of what might have been going on beneath all the layers of deception in the first eight years of the 21st century. I'll probably read the book again, going back to savor the best scenes slowly without the expectation that they will all add up.