Friday, August 17, 2007

William Gibson's SPOOK COUNTRY

Spook Country, William Gibson's latest novel, was published last week. I noticed there was a lot of buzz on the Internet and on book blogs about the release. Curious about the excitement, I read reviews and e-mailed co-workers.

Nisi Shawl, writing for the Seattle Times, sums up Gibson's reputation nicely, he "was one of the founders of the 'cyberpunk' movement, the '80s literature of romanticized hackers and virtual reality that heralded today's wired world. Now more an impresario than a prognosticator, Gibson, a Vancouver, B.C. resident, continues to offer the thrill found in his earlier science fiction, that of learning what's around the next corner."

The "thrill of learning what's around the next corner"? Gibson is surely not unique among science fiction writers is presenting glimpses into the future. I wondered what distinguishes his writing. (Another question might be why do some writers of genre fiction have a larger appeal, beyond their usual "category"?)

Here's what Jesse Pool, Memphis Reads co-moderator and science fiction reader, thinks of Gibson's work: "As I understand it, Gibson has departed a little from his earlier work which was set about 40-60 years distant from the 1980's and his newer books are more 'day-after-tomorrow, although they are still very high tech in nature.

"As far as recommending him, I think he's a great author for people who like action-oriented [science fiction]. Gibson himself admits he knows little about computers, which is interesting in and of itself since he imagined virtual reality before we had it by watching kids play video games at the arcade. I find his characters are sometimes a little one dimensional, although several of them are very memorable. His books tend to be very dark and gritty, and also usually feature a world of difference between the haves and the have nots

"I love the tone, the settings, especially the ideas, and wonder about the multicultural elements (most of his books I've read included some foreign culture, such as Rastafarians in space or Japanese teenie boppers)."

I cannot wait to try Gibson's latest for myself.


LA Times review
Salon interview
Seattle Times interview
Vancouver Sun feature story/interview: "Like a magpie that plucks bright, shiny things off the road, [Gibson] picks up unusual words -- 'knurled' and 'spalled' and 'breakbulk' -- and invites the reader to enjoy their sparkle."

Several links used in this post via Gavin J. Grant's post for the Bookslut blog.

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