Book Review: Spook Country by William Gibson

William Gibson’s name first crops up attached to Neuromancer, which is held by many to be the genesis of the cyberpunk genre. Back in 1984, Gibson imagined a VR-Internet, coining the term ‘cyberspace’, extending contempary technologies to create a view of the future that was entirely possible. Neuromancer was set well into the future, imagining a world somewhat like Blade Runner, space stations and all, and one of its key premises of humans interfacing with computers directly, along with AI, served as inspiration for The Matrix.

While Neuromancer’s sequels Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive (yep, Matrix again) were set along the same timeline inevitably, Gibson’s next major work moved backwards, coming closer to the present, with the Bridge series. Virtual Light, Idoru and All Tomorrow’s Parties were set in a future just around the corner, a post-modern world where earthquakes had struck Tokyo and San Francisco. There was still an element of Gibson’s defining science-fiction in these, but other than stylistically, they may as well have been written by a completely different author to those of the cyberpunk stories.

Post-2001, post-9/11, it would appear that Gibson left the science fiction genre entirely, his novels now set in a contempary world that is entirely recognisable. Pattern Recognition dealt with the story of a “cool hunter” chasing an unusual film being released peicemeal over the net – apart from one or two details, there was little in Pattern Recognition that was science fiction. Cayce Pollard, protagonist, uses a G4 Cube, catches entirely normal flights, and does yoga in a yoga studio in north London – no Boston-Atlanta conurbation here.

Spook Country takes this one step further. Gibson removes any element of the unknown, and refers to real-world events with an attached timeline, where Neuromancer had nary a reference to a year or date in it. 9/11 figures again, though not as prominently as in Pattern Recognition, and it’s clear Gibson has taken that date as a turning point. The story starts with three seperate threads, each interleaving their way to a finish that feels almost anti-climatic. Continue reading Book Review: Spook Country by William Gibson

Movie Review: Juno

I am so in love with Ellen Page right now.

Juno is about a 16 year old, Juno, who gets pregnant and has to deal with it in a way that only a sixteen year old could – professional detachment from the whole icky business.

This movie is perfect. The humour is light-hearted and on target. The drama is poignant without dragging the whole thing down. The pace is incredible, keeping the action moving when it needs to and slowing when you need to absorb the moment. Clocking in just over an hour and a half, there’s barely enough time to get to know the whole cast, but the main players come across so well that it feels longer, but in a good way. The actors do so well – at first, I thought Jennifer Garner was a little over the top, but she comes around by the end, really stepping into her role. Jason Bateman and Michael Cera still remind me a bit too much of Arrested Development, but none-the-less play excellent support roles.

I’m tempted to give this four and a half, surely finding some flaw or another, but Ellen Page again trounces any chance of me giving it less than a full endorsement. ★★★★★

Untitled, No. 1

You notice more when you just shut up.

The line of the eyebrows, carefully maintained, just under the line of the fringe. The waves in her dark hair, untied now. On the left, tucked behind ears too ordinary, stereotypical even, as one might find on a mannequin. Fingers playing with a loose lock, nails with a clear varnish.

A small half-smile arrows into her cheek, eyes distant in thought. A foot kicking air absently, setting the skirt’s pleated hemline swaying. Careful black heels, enough to be fashionable, but not over the top, inoffensive for work.

She breaks from her reverie, glances at me and smiles, before returning to whatever it was that was occupying her outside.

I think I could blog this. The thought drifts across my mind, incongruent. Need to think of a title, though.