August 6, 2007 2:32 PM PDT

William Gibson heads for 'Spook Country'

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Will global warming catch up with us? Is that irreparable? Will technological civilization collapse? There seems to be some possibility of that over the next 30 or 40 years--or will we do some Verner Vinge singularity trick and suddenly become capable of everything and everything will be cool and the geek rapture will arrive? That's a possibility too.

You can see it in corporate futurism as easily as you can see it in science fiction. In corporate futurism they are really winging it--it must be increasingly difficult to come in and tell the board what you think is going to happen in 10 years because you've got to be bulls****ing if you claim to know. That wasn't true to the same extent even a decade ago.

What would you say are the big themes of Spook Country?
Gibson: In the process of doing the tour I will be informed by interviewers of what the broad themes are. I haven't been interviewed sufficiently to be able to tell you. It's set in the same world as Pattern Recognition and involves some of the same characters but they're a few years down the road and the world has changed a bit. I suppose one of the things it's trying to do is take some measure of how much the world has changed since Pattern Recognition.

How has technology changed writing?
Gibson: The thing that has affected me most directly during Pattern Recognition, and subsequently, is the really strange new sense I have of the Google-ability of the text. It's as though there is a sort of invisible hyperlink theoretical text that extends out of the narrative of my novel in every direction.

I've noticed now, very occasionally, I'll see on the street someone who looks as though they have escaped from Second Life.

Someone has a Web site going where every single thing mentioned in Spook Country has a blog entry and usually an illustration--every reference, someone has taken it, researched it and written a sort of little Wikipedia entry for it and all in the format of a Web site that pretends to be from a magazine called Node, which is an imaginary magazine, within Spook Country, and which turns out to be imaginary in the context of the narrative.

I have this sense when I write now that the text doesn't stop at the end of the page and I suppose I could create Web pages somewhere and lead people to them through the text, which is an interesting concept. I actually played with doing that in Spook Country but I didn't know enough about it. Everything is bending toward hypertext now.

You've done a reading in Second Life. What did you make of that?
Gibson: It's a lot more corporate than the vision I had. What I find most interesting about Second Life is that I've noticed now, very occasionally, I'll see on the street someone who looks as though they have escaped from Second Life. There are people who look all too much like Second Life avatars and I don't know if they were there before or whether I just hadn't notice them.

How well do you think your earlier novels such as Neuromancer have stood the test of time?
Gibson: Any imaginary future as soon as you get it down on screen starts to acquire an instant patina of quaintness--it's just the nature of things.

If I were a smart 12-year-old picking up Neuromancer for the first time today I'd get about 20 pages in and I'd think "Ahhaa I've got it--what happened to all the cell phones? This is a high-tech future in which cellular telephony has been banned."

So I completely missed that (mobile phones). When people ask me about Neuromancer as a predictive construct, they always ask about the technology. They don't ask about globalization, which wasn't even a word when I started that book. The world of Neuromancer is a post-globalized world and it's hurting from it and that may carry a lot of people through it today. But if that wasn't there then maybe it would be hopelessly dated.

Except for the Soviet Union--which is another whopping anachronism looming in the background of Neuromancer--there don't seem to be any nation-states in that world, it's completely corporate.

So what's next?
Gibson: I think what I may be doing here with this current batch of books is attempting to take the measure of the present, which will allow me to try that sort of projection again. I sort of hope so--otherwise I don't know what I'll do!

Steve Ranger of reported from London.

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Good job. Go eat a cookie!
Posted by SiXiam (69 comments )
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American democracy
William Gibson on non-functioning American democracy, the importance of giving computers to the poor, and the elitist appeal of the Internet.
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A point blank review of Spook Country by William Gibson
A point blank review of Spook Country by William Gibson
Posted in Uncategorized by chrisbradley on the October 4th, 2007

Let?s get started on the best note possible. William Gibson stated yesterday in the California Literary Review that Spook Country was a ?contractual obligation? and that he started with a ?blank page? and found himself in ?varying degrees of distress? during the task of publishing it.

For every reason stated above, and the fact that it is a dry uninspired read at best, it is not worth spending one red cent on. His work has become no better than Steven King?s work since the release of Pattern Recognition in 2003, and he is willing to admit, that he is no longer interested in writing about the future.

If I were tied to a ?contractual obligation? I don?t think I would feel that inspired to write anything particularly new or different either. Especially if I were aware the Publishers were screwing me out of a good portion of the profits.

So, with these things in mind, lets talk about the story and the characters. Brown is a psychopathic failed government agent who is holding Milgrim hostage. Milgrim is addicted to psychotropic speed analogs. They are in New York at the start of the work. Hollis Henry, a pop singer from a band called the Curfew (not far from Curve or the Cure in name) has had a failed career and is making a last ditch effort as a Journalist for an Internet rag called the node. Except that she never writes a single significant word in the entire novel. The container she ends up searching for is ultimately filled with U.S. Government Money (literally 100.00 bills) and it is a ruse that makes her a possible target for a Chinese / Cuban group intent on tagging the money with Cesium. She starts in Los Angeles and Everyone ends up in Vancouver at the conclusion. The Cubans main characters are a kid named Tito and a guy with the Gun to tag the money inside the Shipping Container.

There is a bit about stealing a Glock from a drug dealer, and that?s about as much action as takes place in the book. The sequence in New York where Brown is madly trying to procure an Ipod containing data from Tito is a miserable, uninventive look at Union Square, and involves automobiles very rarely.

The big excitement in Milgrim?s life is getting a haircut and a Makeover paid for in Washington D.C. by Brown?s attache?s before boarding a Jetstream to Vancouver where he appears to lose his mind completely. Crashing a car in an attempt to kill Tito. At which point Milgrim escapes, snatches Hollis Henry?s purse which contains 5000.00 given to her by proxy from a dead band mate, heroin overdose, who could have figured? Which lands him in a bed and breakfast having a nice egg breakfast on his way out to roam the streets.

That about sums it up. There?s nothing more to it. It was the most uninteresting, formula driven work that Gibson has ever written. And the Locative art and GPS opening sequences with Bobby Chombo are so lost in the gratuitous waste of language that they are hardly worth reflecting on. It leaves a big ?So what?? in my mind.

I am glad Gibson is admitting that his publishing company is doing him no good, and I suggest that he continue to do so, and ?dropkick the chihuawa?s into the soup.? Because they are just like PRADA bags, trendy, hollow, purchased by vindictive people, and generally bred for all the wrong reasons.

I am glad I bought the book, but maybe Penguin Putnam should rethink their marketing strategy before alienating their customers with tripe that isn?t worth the toilet paper it was manufactured on. In today?s world, now that he is the Godfather of Cyberpunk, Gibson could have as easily signed his name on a bag of old tomatoes, and they would sell for $17.00.

And he knows it. And he will do it again.
10 Reasons Not To Buy Into Gibson Mythos
Posted in Uncategorized by chrisbradley on the October 3rd, 2007

1) While Gibson May Have Coined The Word Cyberspace, He Did Not Construct It. DARPA Did.

2) Cyberspace was good for all of 3 Books. Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Every subsequent work dealt with other subjects - which were based solely on the trendiness of the times. Virtual Light (Virtual Reality), Idoru (artificial intelligence turned pop-star), and All Tomorrow?s Parties (the homeless problem). Pattern Recognition (Modern Marketing). Spook Country (Paranoia of the Government).

3.) I wrote a review of Pattern Recognition that was widely available to people seeking Gibson?s work. A few thousand people probably bought the work because of it. I didn?t receive a single thank you note from the Publisher of the work. Instead - I have repeatedly been asked to either stop publishing my own work, or leave their forum altogether.

4.) When I made my best efforts over the course of years from 2003 - 2007 to participate in the Gibson Forum, yes that is 4 years, I was ultimately harassed, shunned, insulted, and instigated into arguing with its members. They are a HOSTILE, Unpleasant, Self Righteous Bunch, With No Valid Intent to Read REAL meaningful posts and respond in a Non Hostile way.

5. The proprietors had me REMOVED from the forum for responding in kind. After having spent Several Hundred Dollars on Gibson Merchandise over the years and invested COUNTLESS hours studying Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence as a result of his works, you would think I would have something of a place there discussing the subjects.

6. Their forum patrons, PERSIST in posting hostile materials against my person, after I have left the forum. I know this because the forum has no measure in place from me ANONYMOUSLY viewing its content.

7. William Gibson, is not at the heart of the real matter at hand. The real matter at hand is that he probably signed a contract with Putnam that prohibits him from doing anything but writing Bestsellers. Therefore his work is Toned Down and not worth reading at all. It is Formula Work designed to shift units. He has little or no creative control over the end result as he did with Neuromancer.

8. A Publishing Company that has No Adequate Oversight over its own resources and the people that uses them has no business being a Publishing Company at all in today?s world. If they cannot prohibit users from behaving badly to one another on their website, because they do not interact with it to a significant degree, then they have no business running the website.

9. The Pattern Recognition Movie will probably sell a lot of tickets. Good for the Executive Producer. Bad for Gibson. Good for the publishers of the book - who hold sway over the Copyrights to it through contracts, bad for Gibson. Good for DVD sales and Wal-Mart, bad for Gibson. Good for Leather Jackets, bad for Gibson. Because he knows its not a real story. Its a story that took advantage of the 9-11 event, just like World Trade Center, which was a cheaply made story with a terribly mundane plot.

10. If you have any ambitions of being a writer, stay away from allowing a Publishing Company like Penguin Publishing to contract you. They only pay a few cents per copy sold, while with self publishing, not only are you your own boss, but the book is instantly available internationally, and you get paid up to 2 or 3 dollars a copy. Working the slave life isn?t anything anyone should aspire to.
An open letter to Penguin Putnam Group
Posted in Uncategorized by chrisbradley on the October 3rd, 2007


#1. I am not going to ask you to reconsider lifting your ip ban because it doesn?t matter anyway. I have more than 1 ip.

#2. If I had not been threatened by your members first, I would not have chosen to respond as I did.

#3. No one enjoys being a) called mentally unstable b) being outright cursed at c) called a self promoting ?troll?

#4. To the people that were supposedly ?injured? by my remarks, let me make this comment, they deserved it.

#5. If Gibson wants to Host a Forum about the US Intelligence Services aka Spook Country maybe it should be considered that people DO actively participate by making regular reports to them on regular issues.

#6. I attempted to generate 2 threads, that were of practical use. 1 called 21 Gun Salute, which was a fiction thread designed for that purpose only. The content was no more volitile than any other collection or anthology of short stories published in the last Decade. You chose to suppress it. 2nd - A seasonal / autumn thread - which had NO volitile content whatsoever, and was actually beginning to make progress. You chose to suppress it also.

#7. It doesn?t matter that you have done these things, the most important of my posts have been copied to my blog. And WILL BE PUBLISHED in a future book. You can bank on that.

#8. People who live in glass houses shouldn?t throw stones. A member on the William Gibson board literally took my face and attached it to a sign that said ?Narcissitic Personality Disorder.? If he thinks its funny, its not. If anyone has it, it is the entire makeup of your board who think they are a) self important b) infallible c) allowed to push drugs through your forum d) allowed to manipulate foreigners in illegal ways. They fit their own description. Using my personal photograph without my permission and without my posting it EVER on the forum, is a) illegal b) an obscene affront to decency c) lawsuit worthy.

#9.William Gibson?s future products will not be on my shopping list if I am not re-admitted to the board. I will take no future action to purchase any of his endorsed products, enjoy his literature, or give him any sort of positive review with my peers, limited as they are. I may even write a negative review of Spook Country and make it prominently viewable. Because I know it isn?t his best work, and I know it was a tactic to sell books for your company rather than produce anything genuine or creative.

#10. A word to the wise: Losing me means losing everyone like me - including newcomers to the community who see it as an open forum, rather than a CENSORED, ILL PLANNED, POORLY HOSTED, attempt at selling products and manipulating a market that should have dried up with All Tomorrow?s Parties.

#11. I will not spend Movie theater or DVD money on Pattern Recognition either, and I will start telling my friends it is a waste of time. And that it has nothing to do with cyberspace, which is the God?s Honest Truth. From the OUTSET, PR has to do with Marketing, and I?m sad to say that in writing my review which appreared in VoidSpace and probably sold at least 10,000 copies of PR - I fell for it Hook Line and Sinker. Never again.

#12. You don?t want to deal with people talking about politics, tell your author not to write about them. I think Gibson is too far away from America now to make any sincere comment on what goes on here. And I don?t see him catalyzing a single sincere thought on the subject from his home in Canada which has become an Anethma to any American crossing into its borders. Canadians come to our country and criticize us in our own stores while we stand there and listen to how they are superior to us. Maybe we should close the borders and cut our trade to them, and see how the Canadian Dollar Fares, when we stop spending money to support them. Canadians seem to think that America is going to protect them eternally and they have it carte blanche to step on our ideas. I?m here, and I?ll say it, we probably won?t. And if something horrible happens in either of your two media centers now, I?ll be laughing from my Border Town which is well secured and doesn?t have any real potential targets.

#13 To think I actually thought I might use Toronto or Montreal for a site for a future film is now virtually entirely off. I?ll have to rethink the entire strategy. Hollywood has its magic, and so does New York. Two places I can see laughing very hard when Pattern Recognition doesn?t sell enough tickets to pay back the investors.

#14 You can forget I said any of this - laugh me off - or not even read it for all I care. But keep this in mind, that aborted thought you skipped when a) either you didn?t reply or b) you replied negatively will cost you. This draft will be copied to my blog which gets a considerable number of Keywords into Google, as will any of your responses, legal threats, or scoldings. I implore you, give it a chance. Because your company really doesn?t need a gaping wound to be its #6 NY Times best seller.

#15 In case you wondered - Yes I still enjoy gibson, but as I said - I won?t buy another thing, and I will turn on his work like a bad penny in an instant, if you don?t do something about controlling your internal problems with your community. And from an ANONYMOUS perch, I will be watching.
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