Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"...the pop star, as we knew her"--and here he bowed slightly, in her direction--"was actually an artifact of preubiquitous media."
"Of a state in which 'mass' media existed, if you will, within the world."
"As opposed to?"
(From Spook Country by William Gibson)
I grew up with Mr. Gibson, I guess, seduced like everybody else by his Prettily Wasted nineteen-eighties version of the twenty-first century--conspicuously lacking flying cars and robots, but full of expensive drugs and more expensive computers. And I still like his recent stuff, too--although he's long since rejected the Future for the bleeding edge of the present. As that passage indicates, he now wants badly to be Don Delillo II, and in some ways he's better with the poetry of Waves and Radiation than Delillo could ever be. He's still trying to work with thriller plots, though; it seems to be what he's most comfortable with. And Spook Country is entertaining enough, as were the few books before it--but for thrillers they're pretty sedate. Not a whole lot seems at stake. But this book, at least, seems to be trying to jumpstart a series of some kind--at least I hope so. It seems perverse to invent a Supercool Cuban-Chinese Gangster Kid with mysterious Santeria-derived ninja skills, and then use him only to plug holes in a shipping container with magnets. (Don't ask.) There must be more non-futuristic adventures in store for that guy, and possibly for the novel's protagonist, Hollis Henry, an eighties underground rock star turned amateur spy. But all the paranoia and gadgetry and portentous pop-culture philosophizing made it worth the time, certainly. Plus, there's a character from Gibson's last, Pattern Recognition, back for a second engagement, and he has the wonderful name of Hubertus Bigend. What more do you want?