I started reading Spook Country shortly after Ling and I had the pleasure of hearing William Gibson speak at Cody’s Books in Berkeley. The strange part about going to a book reading is that the author chooses a chapter at random with the hopes that whatever he is reading will interest the listener to read the book. What always happens for me is that I feel like I “dropped” in on a conversation in midstream and it always take me a while to catch up.This “dropped in” feeling was definitely true for Spook Country. The nice thing is that Gibson is kind enough to fill in the holes as you go but sometimes you are asking yourself now how the heck did that guy get into this situation and it takes Gibson a while to fill you in and I believe that by the end of the story the “whole” of it is revealed and explored.Here is a quick synopsis of the story. 3 story lines happening at once that all are interrelated.

  1. Storyline 1 – Ex Singer for the band Curfew – Hollis Henry is trying to get into journalism is contracted by the super weird Blue Ant agency
  2. Storyline 2 – Tito ( no last name ) – cuban teenager who speaks russian and has an interesting relationship with a religion ( I dont think it is ever named though it has ties in Christianity – a pagan religion that has transformed ) that imbues him with supernatural powers who is a part of a “spy” family and whose current mission is to aid the “Old Man”. The whole family follows something called the Systema which is a methodology for covering your tracks and basically appearing invisible.
  3. Storyline 3 – Milgrim an expert in Russian Translation (and related languages like a Russian computer language) and a drug addict is kidnapped and forced into helping a “Spook” named Brown (who he works for it is never that clear) track Tito and his family and try to discover what they are up to.

The tie in here is a mysterious shipping container that everyone has some kind of interest in. I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to make this post a spoiler and from here on in I will just state my opinion.Gibson has stated that “he writes about what happened last Tuesday” and the book very much has that feel. He includes iPods and Powerbooks into his storyline and the book feels very much like it is happening in the now. This makes me wonder on how it will hold up in 10 years because at the point it will really be a book about the past. Thus Gibson really is making it clear that he is firmly in the realm of speculative fiction and skirting the world of science fiction. Some of his ideas really seem prophetic and I can see some of them coming into fruition in the near future – especially the idea of tagging real space (via GPS and the internet) with content (visual). If that is an original thought then it is a brilliant one. I can see people with their gps equipped smart phones getting an SMS message when their GPS unit recognizes that they drive/walked passed a spot that is tagged with some kind of interesting content (like new stories or historical content about that location).Gibson also did a great job of including the supernatural in this book. Tito has this relationship with the Guerreros which seem to be a pagan set of Gods which he interacts him with that give him the ability to blend in with a crowd, spot people tailing him, avoid capture, make incredible athletic moves etc… I like this part of the story very much and I think it is a real interesting approach that Gibson has taken in Tito’s storyline.Gibson use of the Blue Ant Agency is one of the things that I find curious in the book. Personally I don’t really get Blue Ant and I am not sure why they are even needed in the story. They are this big mysterious ad agency that thinks “secrets are cool”. I don’t know if they were needed in the storyline to make this an interesting book. Gibson seems to use them as this way to get people involved in the story and to have them be this incredibly wealthy organization that helps transport people from place to place.Overall I would have to give this book a must read. Gibson does a good job with the weaving the stories together though my one criticism is that it might have been a little short because it almost seemed a little rushed in the end.Enjoy!