Friday, December 12, 2014
Spooks, haunts, and Rivers
I'm like 85% positive that the old man is Win Pollard. The description of him as looking like William S. Burroughs is passing in both novels but the security background and rage that the old man has about the security community reaction to 9/11 fit for me. And I don't think that ruins Pattern Recognition like a lot of online Gibson fans seem to think - why wouldn't Win contact his family after surviving the towers? Because as an old spook he'd know that shit was about to go seriously sideways in a way that would be incredibly unpleasant for his family to be connected with and after it had gone sideways he started committing major, treasonous felonies. Both seem like good reasons to keep his adult daughter out of the loop and let her grieve.
Locative art as it's presented here is a fascinating exploration of just how fast technology changes these days. Look at Ingress now and compare it to this seven-year-old novel and the novel feels disastrously dated. For all of that, it's still fascinating. The things that people would choose to present, the ways that Gibson proposes for the technology to be used, Bigend's ongoing complete misunderstanding of the way the world works (and still being able to wrest money from that misunderstanding) are all captivating.
Hollis is a bit of a blank, though. It's hard for me to connect to her here, it feels like there's not much to see. She's distractingly passive at times and seems to have little to no agency. That sort of thing is understandable with Milgrim and Tito because Milgrim is a captive and Tito had been trained his whole life to function as a cog in a greater machine, but Hollis is supposed to be a rock star (even if that's behind her now). You'd expect a little more get-up-and-go but it really just isn't there.
I know Hollis is the main character here, but in this particular novel it's Milgrim's story that I want to read. His uneasy and coerced relationship with brown is the most cathartic part of the story for me, and he's the character whose head I think we get inside of the most.
As a side note, this book's been out for seven years. Augmented reality is a thing now. Somebody get on this, because The Viper Room is still missing its River.
Gibson, William. Spook Country. Putnam. New York: New York. 2007.