June 2007 Archives

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 11 and 12

Chapter 11. BOBBYLAND

"East on La Brea, Alberto steered the Aztec-lacquered VW, Hollis beside him."

Chapter 12. THE SOURCE

"Milgrim dreamed he was naked in Brown’s room, while Brown lay sleeping."

Chapter summaries (may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information):

"William Gibson Cracks Me Up" - some Spook Country quotes

Michael Berry, blogs that ("Science fiction columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.") William Gibson Cracks Me Up:

William Gibson’s new novel, “Spook Country,” arrives in stores later this month. I’ve read it, but I’m unsure when, if or how I’ll review it. It’s good, but not a real ground-breaker like “Pattern Recognition.”

[...]

It’s taken me a long time to appreciate the author of "Neuromancer," mostly because I've been too focused on the wrong elements of his fiction. The days of cyberpunk are long over, but Gibson has retooled his technique to embrace the absurdity of post-9/11 America. He's consistently funny, but usually in a very understated way.

It is interesting to see that this reviewer has noted some understated humour in Spook Country.

He picks out a few quotes:

On meeting an impressive old man:

Hollis thought he looked a little like William Burroughs, minus the bohemian substrate (or perhaps the methadone). Like someone who'd be invited quail shooting with the vice-president, though too careful to get himself shot.

On riding in a Zodiac:

This wasn't the Staten Island Ferry. He was bouncing along at some insane speed on something that reminded him of a creepy folding rubber bathtub he'd once seen Vladimir Nabokov proudly posing with in an old photograph.

On Gallic body language:

Odile shrugged, in that complexly French way that seemed to require a slightly different skeletal structure.

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 9 and 10

Chapter 9. A COLD CIVIL WAR

"The message tone woke him."

Chapter 10. NEW DEVONIAN

"Milgrim was dreaming of the Flagellant Messiah, of the Pseudo Baldwin and the Master of Hungary, when Brown reached down into the hot shallows of his sleep, dug his thumbs into his shoulders, and shook him, hard."

Chapter summaries (may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information):

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 7 and 8

Chapter 7. BUENOS AIRES

"Hollis dreamed she was in London with Philip Rausch, walking fast down Monmouth Street, towards the needle of Seven Dials"

Chapter 8. CREEPING HER OUT

"She watched Alberto trying to explain the helmet and the laptop to Virgin Security."

Chapter summaries (may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information):

Amazon now link to the Publishing Proposal Synopsis (.pdf - five pages) for the book which has eventually become Spook Country

Some comments on the proposal:

Publishers Note: In around July 2005 (according to his blog) William Gibson began writing the ovel that became Spook Country and delivered it 18months later to his publishers. Reproduced below is William Gibson’s original proposal for this novel

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 5 and 6

Chapter 5. TWO KINDS OF EMPTY

"Coming back from the Sunrise Market on Broome, just before they closed, Tito stopped to look in the windows of Yohji Yamamoto, on Grand Street."

Chapter 6. RIZE

"Milgrim was enjoying the superior brightness of the nitrogen-filled optics in Brown's Austrian-made monocular well enough, but not the smell of Brown's chewing gum or his proximity in the back of the chilly surveillance van."

Chapter summaries (may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information):

Node magazine countdown - Spook Country Chapters 3 and 4

Chapter 3. VOLAPUK

"Milgrim, wearing the Paul Stuart overcoat he’d stolen the month before from a Fifth Avenue deli, watched Brown unlock the oversized steel-sheathed door with a pair of keys taken from a small transparent Ziploc bag..."

Chapter 4. INTO THE LOCATIVE

"The Standard had an all-night restaurant off its lobby--a long, glass-frosted operation with wide booths upholstered in matte-black tuck-and-roll punctuated by the gnarled phalli of half a dozen San Pedro cacti."

"See-bare-espace... it is everting." - Odile Richards

Chapter summaries (may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information):

patternboy is publishing, as part of his Node Magazine project, a daily quotation and comments on each chapter of William Gibson's Spook Country as the official publication date approaches:

See http://node.tumblr.com:

With 42 days before the official release and a total of 84 chapters, I will begin posting two short (under 807 characters each in celebration of the official release date) chapter summaries each day. Quotations will be very sparse and all posts will contain my interpretations (and likely significant spoilers) re: the yet-to-be-released work.

I hope you enjoy what is to come and look forward to your feedback and comments.

My only quibble is that there does not seem to be a comment facility to comment on each quotation and chapter summary on the node.tumblr.com website.

The first two Chapters seem to be entitled:

Chapter 1. WHITE LEGO

'Rausch,' said the voice in Hollis Henry's cell. 'Node,' it said.

Chapter 2. ANTS IN THE WATER

The old man reminded Tito of those ghost-signs, fading high on the windowless sides of blackened buildings, spelling out the names of products made meaningless by time.

Chapter summaries (may contain plot and character teaser / "spoiler" information):

US Kirkus review of Spook Country

The UK bookseller Waterstone's website , has a version of the US Kirkus review of William Gibson's forthcoming Spook Country. The Kirkus review came out at the beginning of June, to book trade subscribers only.

US Kirkus review

N.B. Some plot and character ("spoiler") details:

William Gibson @ the Edinburgh Book Festival Monday 27th August 2007

[hat tip to Fashionpolice]:

According to this Edinburgh Book Festival brochure(.pdf):

Monday 27th August 2007

William Gibson

FINE FICTION

Scottish Power Theatre 7.00pm

The book fesitival location is in Charlotte Square Gardens, in the elegant Georgian development just north of the western end of Princes Street
- see this Street Map

For those of you using your Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) navigation equipment (either for "locative art" or military targeting purposes):

Latitude: N55:57:08
Longitude: W3:12:29



A rare and significant visit from a groundbreaking North American master, bringing his brand new novel to Scotland. William Gibson invented the term 'cyberspace' and his work, ever since the international bestseller Neuromancncer, has been at the cutting edge of futuristic visions of society. His new work Spook Country, set in our more recognisable world, is a major event.

£8.00 £6.00

Special Book Festival Autumn Evening
In as association with Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature

Pre-publication review of Spook Country by Thomas M. Wagner

| 2 Comments

As the official publication date for William Gibson's Spook Country approaches, there is still no sign of any publicity in old fashioned bookshop and publishing industry in the UK.

Since I do not have access to an pre-publication review copy of Spook Country, I shall be commenting on any such reviews I come across.

Here are a few comments on an online review of Spook Country by Thomas M. Wagner at SFReviews.net.

Overall Thomas Wagner seems to award Spook Country a middling 3 star rating (using a peculiar rating system involving up to 5 stars, in steps of half stars. i.e. effectively a 1 to 10 rating scheme).

To put this in context, his reviews of previous books by WIlliam Gibson , have rated

  • Count Zero - 4 stars
  • Mona Lisa Overdrive - 3 stars
  • Neuromancer - 3 and a half stars
  • Pattern Recognition - 3 and a half stars
  • Spook Country - 3 stars

These are relatively high ratings from a highly competent reviewer, but one whose science fiction tastes obviously resonate more with other sub-genres of science fiction e.g. he has not reviewed Snow Crash or Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, even though he rates a couple of the later Baroque Cycle novels more highly than any by William Gibson and only reviews one work by Bruce Sterling - see also his listing of 5 starred titles

This is especially weird, as some of his reviews of other authors' works make direct comparisons with William Gibson's novels.

His review of Charlie Stross's Glasshouse (which he gives 4 and a half stars)

By now, comparing Stross to Gibson and Sterling and the 80's cyberpunks is passé to the point of pure laziness, especially as Stross long ago established his own voice. But where the comparison still holds is in how Stross's best work gives that old SF sensawunda the same extreme makeover that books like Neuromancer and Schismatrix did in 1984-85. If you weren't around back then, it's hard to convey just how much of a "Wow!" feeling surrounded those books; the sense that, at long last, here was something fresh. At the time, it was a feeling SF hadn't offered readers since the late-60's New Wave. Now, after a similar passage of years, writers like Stross, Iain M. Banks, Greg Egan, Alastair Reynolds and Ken MacLeod have brought it back.

Also the only Bruce Sterling novel in his list of reviews, The Zenith Angle (3 and a half stars)

It's interesting how, as they enter the third decades of their careers, veterans of the '80s cyberpunk craze are turning their attention to the here-and-now rather than any wildly speculative future to hone the cutting edge of their storytelling.

Thomas Wagner seems to have missed the point - William Gibson et al, were always writing about the here and now and perhaps only a short time into the future.

Like William Gibson in Pattern Recognition, Bruce Sterling is all too aware that real life — particularly since 9/11 — has taken so many bizarre turns in recent years that the idea of guys walking around in cheap sunglasses and spiky haircuts with SCSI ports in their necks is so 20 years ago.

Errr... no ! This is actually much closer to today's reality than back in 1984 ! Spiky hair is more prevalent than ever, and sunglasses are even cheaper, but better quality. There are evil corporations selling systems of repression, such as sub-dermally implanted RFID chips insecurely linked to credit card payment systems, and idiots willing to sign up to this technology.

And tapping into the zeitgeist has always been a hobby of Sterling's, who's even used the hip Teutonic catchphrase as the title of one of his books. As his nonfiction bestseller The Hacker Crackdown has made clear, Sterling fully understands that the omnipresence of computers in our society today has had a cultural and political significance far beyond spotty schoolkids downloading porn and pirated MP3s all day.

That is a huge cultural shift from the 1984 timeframe, and one which has not yet been fully assimilated by the wider society.

And it's this that lies at the core of The Zenith Angle, a briskly paced slipstream thriller that will be the summer beach novel — assuming they go to beaches — for the geek elite.

It is almost as if Thomas Wagner reluctantly has to acknowledge the importance of cyberpunk both as a literary genre and for its influence on society, but he seems to resent it. He seems to be looking for some sort of "Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything" religious explanation of "post-911, post Iraq" society, which is probably something well beyond the remit or abilities of any novelist.

In that context, his review of Spook Country, in which he pays tribute to William Gibson's page turning story telling ability and witty mastery of language, is a positive endorsement of the forthcoming book.

The more of his reviews you read, the more at variance with the content of the actual reviews his "star" rating system seems to be e.g. only 3 and a half stars for a glowing review of Douglas Adam's The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Some notes on the review, which reveals some plot and character details:

About this blog

This blog is discusses and analyses the new book Spook Country by cyberpunk author William Gibson, published in August 2007.

This will be primarily from a United Kingdom perspective, as some of the themes of espionage and surveillance and hidden forces really do resonate in our endemic Surveillance Society.

This blog has been described, quite fairly, as "otaku-worthy immersion"

Email Contact

email: blog @ SpookCountry [dot] co [dot] uk

Here is our PGP public encryption key or download it via a PGP Keyserver.

Hints and Tips for Whistleblowers

Please take the appropriate precautions if you are planning to blow the whistle on shadowy and powerful people in Government or commerce, and their dubious policies. The mainstream media and bloggers also need to take simple precautions to help preserve the anonymity of their sources e.g.

Spook Country Links

William Gibson Books discussion bulletin board Spook Country *NO SPOILERS* forum

William Gibson Books discussion bulletin board Spook Country - *SPOILERS OK* forum

William Gibson video about "Spook Country" on YouTube and on the official website.

William Gibson Links

William Gibson blog - written by the author himself, on which he has test marketed fragments of his novel Spook Country whilst writing it.

William Gibson Books discussion bulletin board

www.williamgibson.de - William Gibson book promtion website in Germany

William Gibson aleph - lots of resources about William Gibson's works.

The Cyberpunk Project - some online texts of some of William Gibson's writings hosted in Russia.

Wikipedia Links

Wikipedia entry for "Spook Country"

Wikipedia "Spook Country" page edit history RSS feed or Atom feed

The character "Hubertus Bigend" has his own fictional Wikipedia entry in "Spook Country", which has now become now a real one.

Node Magazine

  • Node Magazine - a fictional magazine which "seems to be actively preventing the kind of buzz that magazines normally cultivate before they begin to exist" mentioned in the hints given about the Spook Country book, which has already been created online by a fan (patternboy), before the book has been published.
  • node.tumblr.com - Node Magazine is publishing 2 Chapter Summaries and Quotations each day in the 42 day countdown to the official publication of Spook Country
  • Spook Country blog's "cloud of hyperlinks" in numerical chapter order - commentary and annotations on the node.tumblr.com annotations to Spook Country.

Fictional British TV Spooks

James Bond 007

Stylish, if somewhat far fetched, BBC TV drama based on MI5 the Security Service - Spooks

BBC children's TV series M.I.High

2008 spin off TV series from Spooks [spooks] code 9 , set a few years into the future in 2013, in the Orwellian Police State which has emerged after a nuclear bomb attack on London.

Fictional Spooks

The Spy Wise Blog by Wesley Britton

Real Spooks

MI5 - the Security Service - counter-espionage, counter-terrorism, domestic surveilance

GCHQ - the Government Communications Head Quarters - intercepting and deciphering enemy communications, and protecting UK ones.

MI6 - SIS - the Secret Intelligence Service - mostly foreign intelligence - not quite like depicted in James Bond films.

Ex - Spooks

RichardTomlinson.org - Richard Tomlinson - still being harassed by his former employer MI6. There are also links to Cryptome's archives of articles and alleged, unproven, lists of names of former or mcurrent MI6 agents (including, improbably, some UK Ambassadors), which caused lots of controversy. Tomlinson denies publishing anything not already in the public domain.

Martin Ingram, Welcome To The Dark Side - former British Army Intelligence operative in Northern Ireland.

Operation Billiards - Mitrokhin or Oshchenko ? Michael John Smith - seeking to overturn his Official Secrets Act conviction in the GEC case.

The Dirty Secrets of MI5 & MI6 - Tony Holland, Michael John Smith and John Symond - stories and chronologies.

Naked Spygirl - Olivia Frank

Spooky Info

Cryptome.org - including various spooky documents which some Government agencies would prefer not to be online.

Alan Turnbull's www.secret-bases.co.uk - "An entertaining guide to using Internet-based research tools – Ordnance Survey's maps, Getmapping's aerial photos and Google Earth! to reveal the UK's "hidden" MoD facilities and military sites"

Eye Spy Magazine - " The world's leading newsstand magazine on intelligence and espionage" - photos, articles, book reviews, private sector surveillance equipment and services adverts etc. N.B. Sometimes uncritical articles on various anti-terrorism and espionage topics, presumably in order to keep in favour with their anonymous sources.

Historical Spooks

Science Museum, London - Science of Spying Exhibition - for Spy Kids of all ages until September 2007.

Bletchley Park - "Historic site of secret British codebreaking activities during WWII and birthplace of the modern computer."

Imperial War Museum. London

Spooky CyberPunks and CyberGoths

The Dose is a "free, downloadable PDF zine ranging from industrial and gothic music to indie game development, Japanese visual kei, eyecandy, cyberpunkness" produced in Hungary.The three (so far annual) issues so far, with another promised in July 2007 contain plenty of CyberPunk and CyberGoth images and reviews, with the occasional reference back to William Gibson or other cyberpunk fiction authors.

Spy / Surveillance Art Projects

Spy Box - "A digital camera inside a parcel looks out through a small hole and captures images of its journey through the postal system. The Spy Box was sent from my studio to the gallery taking an image every 10 seconds recording a total of 6994 images these were then edited together to create an animated slideshow." - by artist Tim Knowles

Benjamin Males - "Face Targeting and Analysis System (2008) - Software designed to find and analyse faces in a video stream. First stage in an ongoing project looking at the potential misuse of technology"

London CyberPunk Tourist Guide

As part of the preparations for William Gibson book signing and lecture event promoting Spook Country in London, during August 2007, this "local knowledge" guide to places of interest to cyberpunk fans was compiled, and has been subsequently expanded.

London CyberPunk Tourist Guide - http://CyberPunk.org.uk

Please feel free to add comments or send emails, to keep it up to date.

Zero History

Zero_History_amazon_150.jpg

Zero History blog - ZeroHistory.net - discussion and hyper link cloud enhanced literary criticism of William Gibson's forthcoming novel, entitled Zero History, which is due to be published on 7th September 2010.

See the Fragments of a Hologram Bill thread on the William Gibson Books discussion forum for the snippets of writing which have been released for discussion to the public so far.

Syndicate this site (XML):

Zero History

Zero_History_amazon_150.jpg

Zero History blog - ZeroHistory.net - discussion and hyper link cloud enhanced literary criticism of William Gibson's forthcoming novel, entitled Zero History, which is due to be published on 7th September 2010.

See the Fragments of a Hologram Bill thread on the William Gibson Books discussion forum for the snippets of writing which have been released for discussion to the public so far.

Cover Artwork

US cover art (the design we prefer):
US_cover_April_150.jpg

UK cover art:
UK_cover_February_150.jpg

See how the cover artwork designs have changed slightly over time in the Cover Artwork category archive

"Spook Country" hyperlink cloud annotation

Our "Spook Country" hyperlink cloud annotation - re-orderd into numerical Chapter sequence

The Node Magazine node.tumblr.com, which this was a collaborative online contribution to, was online even before the official publication date of the first hardback edition of the book in August 2007.

This has been commented on by the author William Gibson, and described by Emeritus Professor of English Literature John Sutherland as "the future of literary crticism"

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