Spook Country Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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Hollis Henry is an investigative journalist, on assignment from a magazine called Node. Node doesn't exist yet, which is fine; she's used to that. But it seems to be actively blocking the kind of buzz that magazines normally cultivate before they start up. Really actively blocking it. It's odd, even a little scary, if Hollis lets herself think about it much - which she doesn't. She can't afford to.
Milgrim is a junkie. A high-end junkie, hooked on prescription antianxiety drugs. Milgrim figures he wouldn't survive 24 hours if Brown, the mystery man who saved him from a misunderstanding with his dealer, ever stopped supplying those little bubble packs. What exactly Brown is up to Milgrim can't say, but it seems to be military in nature. At least, Milgrim's very nuanced Russian would seem to be a big part of it, as would breaking into locked rooms.
Bobby Chombo is a "producer" and an enigma. In his day job, Bobby is a troubleshooter for manufacturers of military navigation equipment. He refuses to sleep in the same place twice. He meets no one. Hollis Henry has been told to find him.
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 2 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||July 05, 2007|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #111,628 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#365 in Political Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#521 in Technothrillers (Audible Books & Originals)
#535 in Hard Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from the United States
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Spook Country follows three characters -- Hollis, the former lead singer of a semi-successful indie rock band, Tito, the young member of a Cuban "boutique" crime family, and Milgrim, an addict who has somehow fallen in with a mysterious intelligence agent called Brown. All are swept up into the search for a cargo container that keeps shuffling around the GPS grid, a search that will eventually lead them to converge in a single place.
McGuffins are nothing new to Gibson's novels, used primarily as a vehicle for exploring societal shifts, and the shipping container in Spook Country is no exception. In this case, however, he uses a McGuffin to examine the impact of computer-generated worlds on our own perception of reality, the atemporal nature of celebrity (including an interesting mediation on the trust that people are willing to invest in celebrities, who would otherwise be strangers to them), Iraq war profiteering, Bush-era paranoia and the infusion of pagan religion into contemporary Catholicism.
There is a startling array of threads and ideas spun out of Gibson's mystery shipping container, and although the ending is not as satisfying as his past works, the ideas he brings up are definite worth exploring.
This may not be Gibson's best book (I'm still partial to Virtual Light), but it's certainly an entertaining and thought-provoking of life in the mid-oughties. Definitely recommended to both old fans and novices alike.
The heart of this story is an espionage mystery, but who is chasing whom, and to what end? The plot thickens around, on the one hand a family of Russian trained Cuban ex-pat's practicing their spy tradecraft with devotion and skill, and on the other a drug addicted kidnap victim being dragged around and controlled by a mysterious detective-type. The object of the quests of these two factions remains unknown for most of the book, but that only sweetens the mystery. There is plenty of suspense and action.
The Machiavellian uber-publisher/advertiser and seemingly omniscient manipulator from Pattern Recognition, Hubertus Bigend, puts his own horse into the race to unravel the mystery. That horse is Hollis Henry, former rock singer and aspiring journalist. The chase for what-is-sought takes us deep into the heart of motive, greed, spycraft, cultural meaning, and ultimately to a negation of the value of the object of the search. The ending, which I won't spoil, evokes that of Hammett's classic detective tale, The Maltese Falcon - also a wild search for an unknown object whose value is negated at the tale's end.
Gibson sits at a nexus that he alone seems to occupy, from he which he spins tales with deep insight into the edges of technology and their roles in shaping art, commerce, corruption, and high and not-so-high culture. And as always, he writes brilliantly.
Top reviews from other countries
Sure there's still the same awe of the cutting edge and all those who dwell upon it. Again the trendy and the technological intermingles against a backdrop of the unreal and the virtual. Everytime the author attempts description, he still veers between clinical itemised lists and the odd bout of baffling verbiage. Sometimes his characters sound like human beings, sometimes they sound like on-brand actors in TV commercials.
So a lot of familiar territory here as we move on from cool hunters to hip ex-musicians turned journalists, locative art, Volapük, secret operatives, drug addicts and the logistics of international freight. Despite all the change in the subject matter, it all starts feeling very familiar very quickly.
If anything the pacing was more an issue here than it was in the first book with whole pages slowing the momentum right down to a halt on a regular basis. Again I get the sense that the author is highly invested in the subject matter to be sure but it rarely translates into an interesting treatment of character or plot.
Here we follow multiple characters and intrigues which starts promisingly enough but soon becomes subject to the same lack of forward momentum. By the end it felt like a perfunctory exercise in joining the dots. Threads reach their conclusion, everyone comes into the orbit of a mystery box and I end up wondering about all the time it takes to get there.
As I say it would be unfair to judge this book by another. In some ways it's better, in others it's certainly worse. Less an upward curve of improvement, more an uneven horizontal line that often threatens to get interesting but never quite gets there. The fascination with emergent trends loses its novelty when read long after the fact and what's left struggled to sustain my interest. It's neither a recommendation to read or avoid but maybe that's says it all.
Then I had some time to read it much more slowly and carefully and it turned out to be all I have just said but it was also very, very funny. His descriptions of events were, if you read them carefully, really quite hilarious. All of the characters are so beautifully developed and yet are just unbelievably funny.
I really cannot recommend this book strong enough. It makes me want to go back read some of his other ones again and I think I’m going to have to this.
I loved it, especially having enjoyed 'Pattern Recognition' shortly before. I'd recommend 'Pattern Recognition' first to give added depth, but it's by no means essential: 'Spook Country' can stand on its own merits perfectly well. I'm looking forward to moving on to 'Mona Lisa Overdrive' next as a return to the original sci-fi series (it's in my Kindle already).
Some of the old Gibson is still there in this book, like separate characters converging at the end. However, the plot is thin & weak, and characters are just wandering in and out of rooms and cities without much to do or even say.
All we learn in the first 300 pages is that there is a container on a ship somewhere that interests a lot of people. It is only in the last 30 pages or so that things develop from there, when one of the shady characters decides to confide in our heroine (whom he has never seen before - huh?) and finally tells her (and us) what is going on. So now we know what is in the container and why these guys are after it, and the book ends soon afterwards. OK then.
The only character that is remotely interesting is the junkie, whose contribution to the plot is translating several sentences from a form of written Russian in latin alphabet. He is the only one with a credible inner world, thoughts and ideas. Gibson actually uses him on several occasions to voice his own thoughts on US stance on torture (blurted out when he was high), war on Iraq, etc.
In all, a disappointing book for those of us who know about Gibson's masterpieces. Perhaps he is getting old. Or maybe he should go back to writing about the future.