William Gibson's publishing proposal for the novel which has eventually become Spook Country

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
Proposal for a novel by William Gibson

"Warchalker" is one of the more obscure and peculiar of the many warblogs and news-filters that sprang up on the Web in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Obscure because it generally offers little more than the apparent result of some news-junkie sitting in a basement, endlessly splicing in links to the latest-breaking from AP, Reuters or other standard sources.

Peculiar because the thread of routine news is occasionally interrupted by some deeply strange dispatch from Warchalker himself -- as, for instance, his first-person account of the looting of the Baghdad museum, involving any number of international art-mercenaries and at least two supposedly extraterrestrial artifacts. Or his earlier report from a secret US facility in which a gifted "remote viewer" is sometimes able to describe, in minute quotidian detail but with a complete lack of imaginative understanding, the doings of the fugitive Osama -- though without being able to hear what OBL might be saying, or know where he is. "They're having that spicy lentil thing again… Now he's flossing his teeth… It looks like a room in a really bad motel in New Mexico, but there’s no glass in the window, no television, and he keeps peeing into this hole in the floor…"

But one of Warchalker's stories involves a truly enormous bale of well-circulated US hundreds (looking, he puts it, "like a HumVee shrink-wrapped in a humongous garbage-bag") gone missing from Baghdad in the fog of war. Close to fifteen million, according to Warchalker, but only a fraction of the amount of US cash pumped into Iraq to keep the civilian government afloat in the wake of the invasion. (These were, in fact, the largest known shipments of US cash to ever have left the United States, and upon arrival were turned over to Iraqi functionaries who didn’t even have to sign for them. They drove away with them, and that, apparently, was that.)

The "Warchalker" is familiar as a warblog, especially those which reported on the "bundles of Saddam Hussein's regime's cash so nearly "liberated" by the 4th Battalion of the 64th Army Division in 2003.

The other meaning of "warchalker" - finding and using "free" WiFi internet connections, and then leaving cryptic signs in chalk to inform others, is also very familiar, if now rather passé

Warchalker has a least two sometime readers who, quite naturally, have never met.

One is Caroline Rand, a networks theorist whose professional passion is "public authoring", that oddly named accumulation of ideas for combining the Internet and GPS technology to, as Caroline puts it, “turn cyberspace inside out”.

"Caroline Rand" seems to have developed into the writer Hollis Henry and also the military GPS consultant Bobby Chombo.

The other is a young man in Manhattan, American of mixed immigrant parentage, and very bright. He lives in a single room in a building on Broadway, just below Spring, with a bed, a desk, a PC optimized for online gaming, a giant plasma screen, a guitar and amplifier, and not much else.

He makes his living maintaining computers for what his father would have called either the mob or the Mafia, but in today’s Manhattan mafias are many, and lower-case. The Italians are less comfortable with the technology than the others. The Russians have their own people for this. As do even the Jamaicans, it seems, though our young man hears that they draw on London-based talent.

There is nothing particularly criminal about his life other than who he works for, and whatever responsibility he could be held to bear for what they do. And what they do is far less than cyber-glam, the bosses of this walkup bullpen on Canal Street, with its rows of middle-aged men seated before vanilla plastic computers. Our young man is nobody’s Mafia superhacker. Nobody's Mafia anything, really.

Except… He’s tried to impress a girl. It happens, even to the most sensible. In his attempt to get over, he's not so much dropped hints as played mysterious. And the girl in question has a very eclectic range of acquaintances. Without his knowing it, his computer skills have been exponentially conflated, for the teller's own purposes, into full-on maestro genius. And now someone, unnamed, wants to access those skills.

The "young man in Manhattan" who exaggerates his computer hacking skills in order to impress, is also very familiar to this blog.

This character with some technical skills and some criminal family connections seems to map onto the Tito character in Spook Country

Behind this narrative, or rather offshore of it, moves a single large and blankly enigmatic object: a shipping container. Its contents left Baghdad in the month after the Americans took the city, and it has become a rectangular, numerically-coded Flying Dutchman, amid the millions of its identical kind at sea, perpetually adrift in a deliberately-generated Sargasso of red tape and botched shipping instructions. It's been around the world several times now.

Caroline Rand and our young man, between them, if they can access the high and ever-dubious strangeness that is Warchalker, might just be able to find it.

And of course there’s someone who wants them to, just as badly as it’s possible for very bad people to want anything at all.

Will the MacGuffin of the shipping container in Spook Country turn out to have bundles of cash or archaeological artefacts looted from Iraq ?

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):
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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"

Campaign Buttons

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Campaign for the Freedom of Information

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.
Free Gary McKinnon, who lives in London, is accused of hacking in to over 90 US military computer systems, and is facing extradition to the USA under the controversial Extradition Act 2003, without any prima facie evidence or charges brought against him in a UK court. Try him here in the UK, under UK law.

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FreeFarid.com- - Kafkaesque extradition of Farid Hilali under the European Arrest Warrant to Spain

Watching Them, Watching Us, UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign
Spy Blog - UK Public CCTV Surveillance Regulation Campaign

NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card
NO2ID Campaign - cross party opposition to the NuLabour Compulsory Biometric ID Card and National Identity Register centralised database.

Peaceful resistance to the curtailment of our rights to Free Assembly and Free Speech in the SOCPA Designated Area around Parliament Square and beyond Parliament Protest blog - resistance to the Designated Area restricting peaceful demonstrations or lobbying in the vicinity of Parliament.

Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans
Data Retention is No Solution Petition to the European Commission and European Parliament against their vague Data Retention plans.

Open Rights Group
Open Rights Group

Tor - the onion routing network
Tor - the onion routing network - "Tor aims to defend against traffic analysis, a form of network surveillance that threatens personal anonymity and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security. Communications are bounced around a distributed network of servers called onion routers, protecting you from websites that build profiles of your interests, local eavesdroppers that read your data or learn what sites you visit, and even the onion routers themselves." The WikiLeakS.org project makes use of Tor as part of their anonymity infrastructure.

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BlogSafer - wiki with multilingual guides to anonymous blogging

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NGO in a box - Security Edition privacy and security software tools

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Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Sans Frontières - campaign for journalists 'and bloggers' freedom in repressive countries and war zones.

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