Thursday, 21 August 2008

Spook Country

For the longest time I've forgotten the associated pleasure that goes with reading a William Gibson novel for the first time... Spook Country was great, and for the very simple reason that Gibson has tapped into something with his latest "series" of books (going on past performance I'm guessing we can expect one more novel set in the almost present day of Spook Country and Pattern Recognition), something which one of his characters says quite early on in the book: "Mysteries are cool."

Hmm, maybe they say that secrets are cool, but it amounts to the same thing. By having the story be about people who are not in the know, and not even in the know about what they aren't in the know about, he creates a beautiful structure that keeps the reader turning the pages from very early on in the novel because we need to know what it is that is going on. We need to know what is in the mysterious cargo container that Hollis Henry is sent on the trail of, even when she doesn't know that that is what she is after. We need to know what happens to Tito, the young man who seems almost superhuman in his physical abilities and mental discipline, and yet who is actually quite a humble character.

Spook Country has a genuinely intriguing plot, and is written beautifully. Gibson really knows how to turn a phrase; while I have a great fondness for the Sprawl Trilogy and for the Bridge Trilogy, I have to admit that he just seems to get better and better with each book. He tells compelling stories that are populated with fantastic, interesting and three-dimensional characters and which just hook you from the start in a world of amazing observations and a real sense of place.

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