William Gibson, Spook Country

I've always enjoyed myself reading William Gibson. I haven't made time for Neuromancer or Idoru in a long time, but they're both terrific reads, with stylish details, sparks of fun that make me reflect on the reality I happen to find myself in, and characters worth your time.

But the Gibson I've read in the past was never about a present world, and while the world in Spook Country shows traces of difference (slightly different vehicle technology, for example, unless I misunderstood that, which is a real possibility), it's our world. It's the Vancouver I go to occasionally, the New York I'm used to reading about or seeing in movies and on TV news, the LA I can imagine, and so on.

So I'm conflicted about this book. On the one hand I'm pleased to have Gibson directly helping me make sense of the new world, such as the variously counter-counter-terrorism ops, cyber art, or international shipping patterns. On the other, I'm sorely disappointed that I don't get to map on my own the un- or hyperreal world of Gibson's other novels onto the world I see around me. This disappointment was stronger than my reading pleasure, much to my surprise.

I'm disappointed, I guess, that it turns out that my Gibson taste owes more to the encrustations of style and detail than to the stories themselves. Or maybe that's the wrong way to put it. Maybe it's not that I've been blinded to the weakness of Gibson's stories' weakness by detail, so much as impressed by his usual artistry.

Spook Country was definitely a page-turner, and it felt like a true Gibson novel (whatever that means), but really, I'm not the least bit sad it ended. Not the least bit.

Darn it, I gotta go re-read Neuromancer to check my instincts....


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