Polish paperback edition of Spook Country cover artwork

Polish paperback edition cover artwork: of Spook Country by William Gibson

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"in the country of the (secret) agents"

Translated by: Robert J.Szmidt

Cover artwork by: Mariusz Banachowicz

Doctor Who: Victory of the Daleks - and of USA spelling ?

The BBC TV science fiction drama (for children and adults) Doctor Who broadcast an episode entitled Churchill War Rooms museum, near Downing Street, which is full of formerly Top Secret maps, plans, telecommunications and cryptographic equipment etc.

The programme featured Winston Churchill and some Daleks in British Army uniforms (including webbing belts and water bottles etc.) and a striking Propaganda Poster, which can be downloaded from the BBC Doctor Who website as a (.pdf)

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However, it appears that the Daleks were not the only alien invaders, as the text at the bottom of the poster appears to be quite odd. Note the American spelling of "Defense" rather than "Defence" and the lack of spaces after the commas.

Printed by the MOD Ministry of Defense Room 73,Public Relations Office, Fillongley Warks. Test Print awaiting approval,Not for public display until further notice.

Ref: 20773/04021985

Fillongley is in North Warwickshire, near to Coventry.

N.B. Neither the "Ministry of Defense" nor the "Ministry of Defence" actually existed during World War 2, they were called, perhaps more accurately, the War Office , the Admiralty and the Air Ministry.

The prime time BBC TV drama Torchwood 5 part mini-series Children Of Earth, broadcast on consecutive nights, mixed the Dr.Who spinoff alien science fiction (with the usual UK Government and United Nations secret agencies) with even more fast action and political treachery and manipulation à la Spooks.

Both the sci fi Torchwood and the spy fi Spooks achieve the necessary suspension of disbelief when it comes to technology, and create dramatic suspense with interesting human characters, just do not expect the plot to stand up to even cursory scrutiny.

The consecutive nightly screenings of the 5 part mini-series format, could also work well for Spooks, hopefully allowing a suitably well written story to aspire towards , for example, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy classic status.

The real headquarters building of the Security Service (MI5), located at Thames House, south of the Houses of Parliament, just south of where Lambeth Bridge meets Millbank, on the north bank of the river Thames.

MI5_logo_original.gif

It is the key location around which the plot of Children of Earth revolves, as the "thirteenth floor" is where, for some reason, the alien "456 monster" has chosen to descend from the sky in a pillar of flames. Consequently there are several exterior and aerial views of this building in the programmes.

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<otaku location trivia mode>

How many of Torchwood Children Of Earth estimated 5 to 6 million viewers on average, spotted that the depiction at the start of Day Three episode of the "warehouse in Battersea", which was a "disused Torchwood 1 Holding Facility", which became the new base for the Torchwood team, was actually an aerial view of the

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Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) at 45-46 Ponton Road, London, SW8 5AX., which supplies vehicles and drivers to Government Minister and top civil servants etc, The agency also collects and delivers classified mail and parcels, and offers secure confidential waste handling and destruction.

Prior to the recent arrest of Kendall and Gwendoline Myers, as long term Cuban

She was a Intelligence Service agents or spies in the USA, (see the previous Spook Country blog entry Alleged Cuban spies in the USA - Walter Kendall Myers and Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, there was a similar case of a Cuban spy, Anna Belen Montes. Kendall and Gwendoline Myers appears to have admired Anna Montes, but considered her to have been careless with her tradecraft.

The "probable cause for search warrants" affidavit by the FBI (.pdf), in the Anna Montes case, available from the Cryptome website, provides a glimpse of some real world Cuban Intelligence Service espionage tradecraft and secret communications techniques, and of some failings with basic computer security.

It is interesting to compare these real life Cuban espionage tradecraft techniques and FBI counter intelligence countermeasures, to the strict "protocols" described by William Gibson in Spook Country used by the character Tito and his clan of relatives, exiled to the USA, but having been trained by the Cuban DGI and Soviet and East German KGB etc. during the Cold War:

Another couple of alleged long term Cuban Intelligence Service spies have been arrested in the USA.

The Department of Justice press release gives most of the details which are being repeated without further analysis, by the mainstream media, and most blog commentators.

Former State Department Official and Wife Arrested for Serving as Illegal Agents of Cuba for Nearly 30 Years

However, reading a copy of the actual Federal Grand Jury Indictment against Walter Kendal Myers and his wife Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers (.pdf available via CNN), reveals a few interesting details of espionage agent tradecraft and official espionage jargon, something which should be of interest to readers of William Gibson's Spook Country, which features some of the same techniques and a Cuban espionage sub-theme.


Ada Lovelace - Blue Plaque - 12 St. James's Square, London

As promised, here is a blog posting for Ada Lovelace Day, March 24th 2009:

Ada Lovelace Blue Plaque

12 St. James's Square, London, United Kingdom.

You can now zoom around this location using Google Street View

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The Blue Plaque is to the right of the lamp post

From the London Cyberpunk Tourist Guide:

Ada, Countess of Lovelace

(1815-1852)
12 St James's Square.

The first "computer programmer" of Charles Babbage's Difference and Analytical Engines.

See this BBC article and this University of Warwick article

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GPS grid coordinates:
Latitude: (WGS84) N51:30:28 ( 51.507743 )
Longitude: (WGS84) W0:08:11 ( -0.136415 )

The brown brick building on the corner, at 10 St.James Square, is the Royal Institute of International Affairs a famous diplomacy, security and intelligence think tank, known as Chatham House, famous for the Chatham House Rule:

"When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed."

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Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was fictionalised as one of the main characters in The Difference Engine, an alternative history steampunk novel written by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.

Hopefully these famous authors might also contribute a blog posting on the topic of admirable women in technology.

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day

Some photos of Corty Doctorow signing copies of Little Brother at Forbidden Planet, London, Saturday 29th November 2008:

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Little Brother, the text of which is available online in various formats, for free, is well worth giving to your teenage or young adult relatives as a Christmas present.

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UK edition book signing

Cory Doctorow - Little Brother
Saturday 29, November, 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Forbidden Planet London Megastore,
179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR

Our Price: £6.99

Forbidden Planet Megastore street map

Latitude: N51:30:54 ( 51.514896 )
Longitude: W0:07:39 ( -0.127591 )

Although this book is aimed at the "young adult" market , there is a lot for politicians, policy makers and technologists to learn from it.

Will today's teenagers actually fight for their human rights against the creeping totalitarian police surveillance state, which the terrorists threat has managed to manipulate our weak politicians into inflicting on us ?

Will dome of the anti-surveillance and anonymity techniques described in Little Brother be taken up by the games console / iPod generations , or have they been lulled into introspective passivity and inaction ?

Little Brother, the text of which is available online in various formats, for free, is well worth giving to your teenage or young adult relatives as a Christmas present.

After suffering through the laughably dire spooks code 9, low budget spin off, the "proper" version of the BBC's flagship prime time spy / terrorism drama Spooks, came as a relief.

The new series 7 of Spooks has higher production values, and manages to convey some dramatic tension in its handling of various clandestine meetings, and also during the various "following a suspect in the street or on public transport" scenes, which use far fewer people than are actually needed to do this without being detected.

However, the BBC still manages to pump out utterly implausible technology nonsense.

Not since Spooks series 2 episode 3, which came up with the the physics defying idea of a fake radioactive isotope source, which could magically fool Geiger counters into only appearing to be giving off deadly levels of radiation, has there been a more technologically implausible plot McGuffin, than the one in series 7 episode 2.

Again, this involves "computer hacking", presented in an utterly implausible way.

The Russian government is, for no good reason, launching an alleged "cyber attack", some sort of Denial of Service attack via the internet, which is somehow supposed to cripple the UK economy and cause panic on the the City of London's financial markets etc. This is hardly necessary, given the incompetence of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling, who have manged to do this without any outside help.

This attack is to be launched from a Russian submarine, tapping into a single fiber optic telecommunications cable, off the Cornish coast.

This dastardly plot is foiled, through the simple means of magically getting a CD/DVD full of secret communications software, not from any Russian Navy base, but from the Russian Embassy in London.

Somehow, this allows Malcolm, back in Spooks HQ, to communicate in secret, with the submerged spy submarine, before it is starts to tap into the fibre optic cable (which is plausible technology), and then to transmit a Zero Day Virus to magically disable three sets of computer firewalls, and to physically cripple the submarine.

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He does this via some unseen communications method, having somehow automatically determined which of the many undersea cables was going to be tapped into, giving no thought to trying to isolate that target cable from the rest of the UK's infrastructure.

See The Register Spooks foils fictional Russian plot for more comments about the idiocy of this plotline.

Getting the details of the existence of this "cyber attack", involved the increasingly deadly Ros, who seems to be able to outdo even James Bond or Jason Bourne, by overcoming the security of a Russian oil oligarch billionaire, with close connections to the Kremlin, who has a penchant for stolen artworks

This involved getting him to strip naked and then physically torturing, threatening to blackmail etc. him. This is the stupid way in which the spooks code 9 secret police thugs also magically obtained vital intelligence information, and it is simply not believable.

This series of Spooks, like spooks code 9, appears to have a "find the traitor in MI5, but do not confide in your colleagues" ongoing sub-plot.

Episode 4, also contains some more utterly pathetic "technology", this time alleged nanoparticles which can magically be tracked via microwave signals from satellites, even inside buildings in central London.

Meanwhile, the more mundane and plausible use of mobile phone technology, including Location Based Service tracking on a computer screen, whilst used very heavily throughout Spooks, also rings alarm bells , to anyone who actually understands a bit about how mobile phones work.

Episode 4 involved a secret Al Quaeda courier, who passes on a mobile phone SIM card to MI5 (whilst getting stabbed in Victoria train station). Even though they determine that there is only a single telephone number stored on this SIM card, they somehow have to wait until they actually phone it, in order to try to physically track the other mobile phone down.

Supposedly once the brief phone conversation is terminated by the terrorist mastermind at the other end who wants to talk to MI5, they are then unable to trace the location of the mobile phone.

In reality, a mobile phone is obviously traceable via the mobile phone network infrastructure, whether or not anyone is using it to make or receive a voice call or SMS text message, provided that it is switched on, and has established a signal with a Mobile Phone Cell Base Station transmitter. Getting an accurate position fix is not guaranteed, even in cities like London with lots of mobile phone Cell transmitters, but also with lots of radio reception blackspots, reflections off metalised window glass, the vast radio coverage dead zones on the London Underground etc. etc.

If the terrorist mastermind's mobile phone was not switched on, and was not traceable at all, then how did they manage to phone him on it ?

Why on earth did Harry, the head of MI5 section D and his second in command Ros, go to a secret meeting with the Al Quaeda terrorist mastermind, who they obviously cannot trust, and then meekly surrender their own mobile phones full of secret contact information, along with their high tech GPS tracking lapel pins ? Such phones would be rather more valuable to an enemy, than the Blackberry mobile phone / PDA, which was allegedly stolen from a Downing Street apparatchik during Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit to China before the Olympic Games.

Is it genuine ignorance of how modern computer and telecommunications technology actually works, or is it deliberate disinformation, on the part of the BBC / Kudos Productions script writers and directors ?

The new series of Spooks has started on BBC1 tonight . The 2nd episode is also being shown on BBC 3 in 10 minutes or so, a formula which has worked quite well in previous series.

There are several flaws, especially with the lack of "Moscow Rules" tradecraft and mobile phone communications security, but it still better than the wretched spooks code 9 series.

Professor John Sutherland and the "hyperlinked cloud of annotations"

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Professor John Sutherland, a distinguished professor of English at Universities in both the UK and USA , was intrigued by the idea of the "hyperlinked cloud of annotations" which William Gibson's Spook Country was subjected to by the Node Magazine project, and this blog etc.

See:.

William Gibson's "Spook Country" annotations via Node Magazine, node.tumblr.com and SpookCountry.co.uk - "the future of literary criticism", according to Professor John Sutherland

Interestingly, he has created his own hyperlinked annotation of his own book, eschewing the use of conventional footnotes, for web URLs and an accompanying website.

www.magicmomentbook.com

In the portal, or 'gateway' notes to websites which follow I have, in the main, avoided reference to the obvious wikipedia, IMDb, ODNB and Britannica sites---although in many cases they will be a reader's first port of call. The principal aim of this e-annotation is to thicken the cultural texture of the book: in a number of places by offering audio-visual, as well as conventional annotation.

Conventional annotation aims to encase knowledge, as apparatus criticus. What I have attempted here is something different. William Gibson, the, pioneer of 'cyberpunk', who has pioneered this kind of web-reference, likens the reader to a worm crawling through cheese. The cheese doesn't change, but every worm creates a different passage through it. The following are my suggested wormholings through, and out of, what I have written.

John Sutherland

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Magic Moments: The Books the Boy Loved and Much Else Besides
by John Sutherland
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd (25 Sep 2008)
ISBN-10: 1846680786
ISBN-13: 978-1846680786
RRP: £10.99

Episode 4 - Spooks Code 9 - how not to protect MI5 informants

It is hard see how anyone who has watched the TV adaptation of John le Carré 's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy etc. will be impressed with the way in which the [spooks] code 9 series treats the important topic of the protection of their own members of staff, and of their informants, from violence and murder by enemy organisations.

Episode 4 opens with the murder of an MI5 informant, whose body is thrown from a building, landing on top of a car, terrifying the driver.

"It looks like someone's after our assets" says the torturer / former medical student ( Rob who spends half of his time getting illegal access to his former teaching hospital's computer systems to delete or fake evidence about his former girlfriend's lover, who he may or may not have murdered when the bomb went off in London)


"Could Hewitt's gang have found out that he was an informer ?"
"There's no way that they would know"
"If they did find out, then we would have a security leak, which would be very, very bad" , says Charlie. the mathematician, and new leader of the Mi5 Field Office 19 team, stating the obvious.

"If word gets out that our informers are dying, then we could end up losing all our assets". says Vik, re-stating the obvious.

The Charlie and Rachel decide that they still cannot cannot trust the rest of their team, in their attempts to find the MI5 traitor supposedly behind the nuclear (or was just atomic) bomb attack on London (does that already count as a massive security leak ?) Rachel goes undercover, after a fake stabbing incident at a night club.

It is simply inconceivable that the MI5 team, who are all out drinking and dancing together (again), should simply stand by whilst one of their colleagues is carted off in an ambulance (which was suspiciously visible in the background as they were leaving the club, before the "stabbing" incident in the street outside) and would meekly accept the refusal of the ambulance crew to tell them where they were taking Rachel to.

Given their previous record of bullying and blackmail and torture, of many of the other people they deal with in the series, why would they not flash a warrant card and insist on accompanying her to the hospital ?

Given that their former boss had been recently assassinated, and that an MI5 informants has just been murdered, did none of them think that this might be a deliberate attack on them, and act accordingly ?

Charlie says, inside the ambulance, "We're clear. I cannot believe that worked".

Neither can the audience !

Did none of the "trained observers" in the rest of the spooks code 9 team notice their boss Charlie lurking inside the ambulance, as Rachel was stretchered inside ?

The next MI5 informant is murdered with even more explicit violence (stabbed in the stomach, and throat slit), having watched a TV advert for the private sector "missing persons" tracing service,much in demand after the nuclear / atomic bomb attack on London (supposedly only a 10 kiloton device, i.e. half that of the Hiroshima or Nagasaki atomic bombs, something which would be a complete technical failure for a H bomb).

This advert features a website URL www.reconnectedUK.co.uk , which is a parked domain name, registered to Kudos, the production company resposible for [spooks] code 9.

They missed an opportunity to create another "back story" supporting website, but at least they have secured the advertised domain name from squatters.

The advert also features a Premium Rate phone line number, which, wisely, considering the recent scandals involving such numbers and TV programs, both on commercial and BBC TV programmes, uses the number 090908 79 09 79 which does conform to the Ofcom Telephone numbers for drama purposes (TV, Radio etc) rules.

Premium Rate Services 0909 8790000 to 8790999

"I doubt these terrorist groups have joined forces, so maybe something else is going on", says Charlie, after the MI6's brilliant deduction that the two murders of MI5 informants from two different terrorist groups, both in their witness protection scheme, both of whom have had notices pinned to their chests saying "MI5 informant", might actually be linked together.

"What the hell is going on ? Two of your informants dead, and one of your team in hospital after a drunken brawl. Not an exemplary week!", says the MI5 Director of Field Operations, who should have already disbanded this team by now.

John le Carré - A Most Wanted Man - video interview in Hamburg

John le Carré (the pen name of David John Moore Cornwell) is a former diplomatic / intelligence insider, whose books have described and defined the language and plots of modern Spooks and Spies, in literature, film and television e.g. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy etc.

The Daily Telegraph has an interesting 9 minute video interview John le Carré, promoting his new book called A Most Wanted Man.

This video is now available on via Google video, on the official John le Carré website

This video shows the author at a few of the locations in modern day Hamburg, which are used in the novel. e.g. the lobby of the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski and the offices of the Fluchtpunkt, a Christian organisation which helps refugees and asylum seekers.

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Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (23 Sep 2008)
Language English
ISBN-10: 034097706X
ISBN-13: 978-0340977064

A Most Wanted Man

A half-starved young Russian man is smuggled into Hamburg at dead of night. He has an improbable amount of cash, is a devout Muslim and says his name is Issa.

Annabel is an idealistic German lawyer determined to save Issa from deportation. In pursuit of Issa's mysterious past she confronts Tommy Brue, the scion of a failing British bank based in Hamburg.

Meanwhile, scenting a sure kill in the War on Terror the rival spies of three nations converge upon the innocents.

A Most Wanted Man is published 23 Sep by Hodder & Stoughton.

It will be interesting to compare and contrast John le Carré's A Most Wanted Man with William Gibson's Spook Country. - luxury hotels, international conspiracies and intelligence agency snooping, descriptions of Port cities, female heroine, rich millionaires etc. etc.

John le Carré's novels, and all the film and television adaptations of them so far, are much better and more accurate (though obviously still fiction), than the BBC TV Spooks and especially [spooks] code 9

BBC Spooks Code 9 - still looking for clues

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Episode 3 of the BBC 3 tv spin off series [spooks] code 9, was full of amusing or annoying technical howlers, as well as the casual, desensitising violence, swearing. nudity and and Orwellian surveillance.

Is there sub-plot, which has featured in each of the three episodes so far, of some "hacking" / mathematical puzzle solving, involving "clues" to a possible alleged traitor in MI5 who might have been behind the nuclear bomb explosion in London, left by Hannah, the assassinated former head of the MI5 Field Office 19, going to appear as an online Flash based game or puzzle ? If not, then BBC 3 are missing out on generating some online interest in the series, something which it desperately needs, despite associated fan discussion websites like spookscode9.com.

There is also the cynical attempt at a Paul Verhoeven RoboCop or Starship Troopers film style "future news" Liberty News website. This comes . complete with astroturfed i.e. faked "grass root" user comments, reminiscent of the heavily criticised "Information Revolution" advertising campaign which failed to wean many people from Google to the rival Ask search engine in 2006.

These "clues" are being "solved", on his own, by Charlie Green, the new leader of the MI5 Field Office 19 team , who is supposedly a mathematician,

BBC [spooks] code 9 - aargh !

[spooks] code 9 is a new spin off series from the popular BBC Spooks drama supposedly about MI5 Security Service officers in action.

The first two episodes were transmitted back to back, and are currently available online from the programme's website (for the next few days)

Aimed at the 16 to 25 "yoof" audience on digital TV channel BBC 3, this is a spin off from the stylish and successful mainstream BBC 1 / 2 / 3 series "Spooks", which might account for the violence, swearing and sex.

The motto for the series appears to be "For Queen, For Country, For Kicks"

The series is set a few years into the future in 2013, in the Orwellian Police State which has emerged after a (small) nuclear bomb attack on London.

Supposedly the casualties cased by this single bomb incident are such that the rest of the UK carries on, with refugee camps etc., people trying to find their dead or missing relatives, and an Orwellian Police State, with pervasive CCTV surveillance, phone taps, secret concentration camps, compulsory ID cards, a black market in ID cards and radiation sickness drugs etc.

The tentacles of state repression includes the series protagonists, who are supposed to be a Field Operations team of young, inexperienced MI5 officers, working in one of the distributed offices of MI5, Field Office 19, somewhere vaguely in Northern England e.g, the County Arcade in Leeds appears as a location.

The two episodes so far have been stylistically less glossy than "Spooks", but just as full of technical howlers. This series also seems to be full of actual current New Labour
government policies e.g.

"we know what we have to do, get out into the communities, and target the young"

Most of the scenes which do not involve any actual surveillance or investigation work or the use technology, seem to be reasonably well acted.

There have been some violent episodes of the original Spooks series, but these usually involved a decent plot build up, and came with a dramatic shock.

Some details of the technical plot errors in the first two episodes - not sure if these will spoil your enjoyment or add to it:

UK paperback edition of Spook Country by William Gibson

UK paperback edition of Spook Country by William Gibson

Front cover:

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Back cover:

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The ISBN of this Penguin paperback edition published in London, 31st July 2008 is:

ISBN: 978-0-141-01671-9

The retail price is £7.99

The cover photograph is copyright Steve Harries who has published some interesting images of skateboarders set against brutalist urban architecture.

Spook Country - Italian hardback edition

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Thanks to guisec for the tip about the publication of the Italian hardcover edition.

The publishers have used the Chapter 35 title "Guerreros" for the Italian translation of Spook Country: published on 20 May 2008.

La Feltrinelli online bookshop:

Listino € 17,50
Editore Mondadori
Collana Strade blu
Anno 2008
Pagine 381
Lingua Italiano
EAN 9788804580089

€ 17,50 (about £14) discounted online to € 14,87 (about £11) is cheaper than the United Kingdom hardback list price of £18.99.

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Penguin Paperback editions - UK and Export

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According to Amazon.co.uk there seem to be two forthcoming Penguin paperback editions:

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Spook Country (Paperback) - 31 Jul 2008

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (31 Jul 2008)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 014101671X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141016719
Spook Country Export Ed (Paperback) - 1 Jun 2008
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0141035919
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141035918

What is the difference between them, apart from 2 months between publication dates and 96 pages ?

There is also the huge difference in price:

£3.99 (RRP £7.99) for the UK edition

and

£11.00 for the Export edition

The Imperial War Museum in London is staging an Exhibition celebrating the centenary of the birth of the most famous spy novel and film author Ian Fleming and his creation James Bond 007:

For Your Eyes Only
Ian Fleming and James Bond
17 April 2008 - 1 March 2009

To celebrate the centenary of Ian Fleming's birth, Imperial War Museum London is producing the first major exhibition devoted to the life and work of the man who created the world's most famous secret agent, James Bond.

Featuring fascinating material, much on public display for the first time, For Your Eyes Only will look at the author and his fictional character in their historical context and examine how much of the Bond novels were imaginary and how far they were based on real people and events. This exhibition will explore the early life of Ian Fleming, his wartime career and work as a journalist and travel writer and how, as an author, he drew upon his own experiences to create the iconic character of James Bond that continues to have global appeal.

[...]

For Your Eyes Only will show how Fleming's wartime experiences informed the Bond plots and inspired many of the iconic heroes and villains, such as M and Goldfinger, and how the Cold War, a war of spies and technology, provided the stage in which Bond could operate. The exhibition will examine to what extent the books and films reflect the reality of the Cold War and life in post-war Britain and how far they were a product of Fleming's prodigious imagination.

It will conclude with Fleming's legacy, exploring how one man's idea generated an entire industry, not only books and films, but also parodies, toys, games and clothes. Over fifty years after his first appearance in print, James Bond continues to exert a grip on the global imagination and Fleming remains a classic writer of his generation.

[...]

Adults £8.00, Concessions and Groups £7.00, Children £4.00, Family £19.00 (Groups pre-booking essential on 020 7416 5439 or groups@iwm.org.uk)

For further information contact: Victoria Smith Press Officer, Imperial War Museum London, 020 7416 5497, vsmith@iwm.org.uk www.iwm.org.uk

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

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

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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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