Fragments of a Hologram Bill

I am making this thread to collect the blog posts that give us a preview of the new novel.

Here is the first one.

Me want book now.

posted 12:09 AM
Inchmale’s club, in Portman Square, was called Cabinet. It was a peculiarly narrow place, apparently occupying half of the vertical volume of a townhouse whose expensively forgettable façade reminded her of a sleeping face. It shared a richly but soberly paneled foyer with whatever occupied the other, left, half of the building, and she had formed the vague opinion that this might be a foundation of some kind, perhaps philanthropic in nature, or something dedicated to the advent of peace in the Middle East. Something hushed, she imagined, and faintly dusty.

In any case there was nothing on the façade or in the foyer to indicate what that might be, no more than there was anything, really, to indicate that Cabinet was a club. There was an ornate desk, she supposed Victorian, at which sat one or another of the club’s quietly attentive employees, young men for the most part, often wearing tortoiseshell spectacles of the sort she suspected of having been carved from actual turtles.
Original Post
There was an ornate desk, she supposed Victorian, at which sat one or another of the club’s quietly attentive employees, young men for the most part, often wearing tortoiseshell spectacles of the sort she suspected of having been carved from actual turtles.

It's the little things, like omitting 'that' before "she supposed Victorian", that let this rather more elongated prose still work a la Gib. Says me. And I oughta know: I wasn;t there when he wrote it, never talked or corresponded with him in any fashion, and am an uninformed schmuck of a fan.

Beat THEM cred-chops, y'all! (Maybe a Hawaiian king could top 'em, but then, he's got that way cool headgear that's so hard to... wait for it... top.)

Harmonica, Mon, Harmonica
posted 7:52 PM
They’d run with that tallness, employing a white, custom-printed wallpaper, decorated with ornate cartouches in glossy black. These were comprised, if you looked more closely, of enlarged bits of anatomical drawings of bugs. Scimitar mandibles, spiky elongated limbs, the delicate wings (she imagined) of mayflies. The two largest pieces of furniture in the room were the bed, its massive frame covered entirely with slabs of scrimshawed walrus ivory, with the enormous, somehow ecclesiastic-looking lower jawbone of a right whale fastened to the wall at its head, and a birdcage, so large she might have crouched in it herself, suspended from the ceiling. The cage was stacked with books, and fitted, inside, with minimalist Swiss halogen fixtures, each tiny bulb focused on one or another of Number Four’s many artifacts. And not just prop books, Inchmale had proudly pointed out. Fiction or non, they all seemed to be about England, and so far she had read parts of Dame Edith Sitwell’s English Eccentrics and most of Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male.

She took off her coat, hung it on a stuffed, satin-covered hanger in the wardrobe, and sat on the edge of the bed to remove her shoes. The Piblokto Madness Bed, Inchmale called it. “Intense hysteria," she recited now, from memory, “depression, coprophagia, insensitivy to cold, echolalia.” She kicked her shoes in the direction of the wardrobe’s open door. “Hold the coprophagia,’ she added.
The characters: Hollis Henry, Hubertus Bigend, Reg Inchmale and Pamela Mainwaring seem to reappear from Spook Country and/or Pattern Recognition


Sunday, February 01, 2009

posted 9:46 PM

The room-phone began to ring. It was a collage, something else Inchmale dubbed steampunk. A massive, nautical-looking handset of rubber-coated bronze rested in a leather-padded cradle atop a cubical box of brass-cornered rosewood. Its ring was mechanical, and tiny, as though you were hearing an old-fashioned bicycle-bell, far off down a quiet street. She stared hard, willing it to silence.

“Intense hysteria,” she said.

It continued to ring.

Three steps and her hand was on was it.

The handset was as absurdly heavy as ever.

“Coprophagia.” Briskly, as if announcing a busy department.

“Hollis,” he said, “hello.”

She looked down at the handset, heavy as an old hammer and nearly as battered. Its thick cord, luxuriously cased in woven burgundy silk, resting against her bare forearm.


“Hello, Hubertus.”

She pictured herself driving the handset through brittle antique rosewood, crushing the aged electro-mechanical cricket within. Too late now; it had already fallen quiet.

“I saw Reg,” he said.

“I know.”

“I told him to ask you to call.”

“I didn’t,” she said.

“Good to hear your voice,” he said.

“It’s late.”

“A good night’s sleep, then,” heartily. “I’ll be by in the morning, for breakfast. We’re driving back tonight. Pamela and I.”

“Where are you?”


She saw herself taking an early cab to Paddington, the street in front of Cabinet utterly deserted. Catching the Heathrow Express. Flying somewhere. Another phone ringing, in another room. His voice.


“Norwegian black metal,” he said, flatly. She imagined Scandinavian folk-jewelry, then self-corrected: the musical genre. “Reg said I might find it interesting.”

Good for him, she thought. Inchmale’s sub-clinical level of sadism sometimes found a deserving target.

“I was planning on sleeping in,” she said, if only to be difficult. She knew now that it was going to be impossible to avoid him.

“Eleven then,” he said. “Looking forward to it.”

“Goodnight. Hubertus.”

“Goodnight.” He hung up.

She put the handset down. Careful of the hidden cricket. Not its fault.

Nor hers.

Nor even his, whatever he was.

A couple of minor changes in THE GABRIEL HOUNDS fragment, following comments in the very lengthy HE BLOGS discussion thread:

"ork-killing" changed to "orc-killing"

"run-time" changed to "talk time"


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

posted 10:08 PM
Milgrim, wearing the khaki trousers and Harris tweed jacket he’d bought in the Brooks Brothers in Via Vigna Nuova the week before, stood considering dog-headed angels in Gay Dolphin Gift Cove.

Their heads, rendered slightly less than three-quarter scale, appeared to have been cast from the sort of plaster once used to produce alarmingly detailed miniature busts of pirates, Mexicans, turbaned Arabs. There would almost certainly be examples of those here as well, he thought, in the most thoroughgoing trove of roadside American holiday souvenir kitsch he’d ever seen under one roof.

Their bodies, apparently humanoid under white satin and sequins, were long, Modigliani-slender, perilously upright, paws crossed piously in the manner of medieval effigies. Their wings were the wings of Christmas ornaments, though writ larger than would suit the average tree.

They were, he concluded, facing half a dozen of assorted breed, intended for purchase by those wishing to sentimentally honor a deceased pet.

Hands in trouser pockets, hoping to look casual, he swung his gaze from the dog-headed angels to the wider visual complexity of Gay Dolphin Gift Cove. He noted a great many items with Confederate-flag motifs. Mugs, magnets, ashtrays, small statuary.

He was apparently alone here, though he knew that there must be Gay Dolphin staff nearby. How old did something like this have to be, in America, to have “gay” in its name? Some small percentage of the stock, he judged, had been manufactured in Occupied Japan.

Half an hour earlier, across North Ocean Boulevard, he’d watched child-soldiers, wistfully clad in sad skateboarding outfits still showing the factory creases, haggling over Chinese-made orc-killing blades, spiked and serrated like the jaws of extinct predators. He’d wondered how many young men had had a winter afternoon in Myrtle Beach as a final treat, before shipping out for whatever theater of war. Wind, the sand of the Grand Strand, the boardwalk, the peculiarly sub-aquatic light in amusement arcades where some of the machines might be older than he was. The smell of chili-dogs. Some of Milgrim’s own angels, not the better ones, detected an ancient and deeply impacted drug-culture, down in what little was left of the carny grime of the place, interstitial and immortal. Sun-damaged skin, tattoos unreadable, eyes that peered from faces suggestive of gas-station taxidermy. Old school.

He was meeting someone here. He had no idea who, though they were supposed to be alone.

Somewhere, nearby, Oliver Sleight, the fit of whose clothes bothered Milgrim, was watching. On a website, hence on the screen of Sleight’s iPhone, was a Milgrim-cursor, generated by the funny battery they’d put in his own new phone, back in Florence. The circuitry reduced the talk time considerably, but Milgrim made, and received, very few calls.

He moved off through Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, away from the dog-headed angels in their cabinet, past articles of a more natural history. Starfish, sand dollars, sea horses, shells of all kinds and seemingly of every ocean.

William Gibson was born in Conway, South Carolina.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

posted 7:30 PM

“And she called him?” asked Sleight, behind the wheel of the Taurus X, from the center of a goatee he regularly trimmed with the aid of a size-adjustable guide, held between his teeth.

“She indicated she would,” Milgrim said.


They were headed inland, toward the town of Conway, through a landscape that reminded Milgrim of driving somewhere in Los Angeles that you wouldn’t really want to get to. This abundantly-laned highway, lapped by the lots of outlet malls, a Home Depot the size of a cruise ship, theme restaurants. Interstitial detritus still speaking stubbornly of maritime activity, the farming of tobacco. Fables from before the Anaheiming. Milgrim concentrated on these leftovers, finding them centering. A lot offering garden mulch. A four-store strip mall with two pawn shops. A fireworks emporium offering its own batting cage. Loans on your auto title. Serried ranks of unpainted concrete garden statuary.

“Was that a twelve step program, where you were, in Basel?” asked Sleight.

“I don’t think so,” said Milgrim, assuming Sleight was referring to how many times his blood had been changed.

More like fifteen.



Monday, February 09, 2009

posted 8:48 PM

Toweling off, applying moisturizer, she listened to BBC through an ornate bronze grate. Nothing of catastrophic import since she’d last listened, though nothing particularly positive either. Early 21st-century quotidian, death-spiral subtexts kept well down in the mix. The species of clueless motherfuckers to which she herself so fully belonged, in the end more adroit at bringing about the extinction of other species than anything else, it seemed. And now the Americans had broken capitalism, fucking with it. They’d already broken sex, according to Inchmale.
Thursday, February 12, 2009

posted 6:28 PM
“You’re a bohemian,” he said, folding the napkin and putting it on the tray, beside his plate.

“What does that mean?”

“You’ve scarcely ever had held a salaried position. You’re freelance. Have always been freelance. You’ve accumulated no real property.”

“Not entirely through want of trying,” she reminded him.

“No,” he said, but when you try, your heart’s scarcely in it. I’m a bohemian myself.”

“Hurbertus, you’re easily the richest person I’ve ever met.” This was, she suspected, perhaps not quite literally true, but anyone she’d met who might have been wealthier than Bigend had also been exceptionally dull company.

“It’s a by-product,” he said, carefully. “And one of the thing’s it’s a by-product of is my fundamental disinterest in wealth.”

And, really, she knew that she believed him, at least about that. It was true, and it did things to his capacity for risk-taking. And made him, she knew from experience, peculiarly dangerous to be around.

“My mother was a bohemian,” he said.

“Phaedra,” she remembered, somehow.

“I made her old age as comfortable as possible,” he said. “That isn’t always the case, with bohemians. Reg is quite the model of the successful bohemian, isn’t he?”

“I suppose he is.”

“He’s always working on something, Reg. Always. Always something new.” He looked at her, across the heavy silver pots. “Are you?”

And he had her, then, she knew. Looking straight into her. “No,” she said, there being nothing else really to say.

“You should be,” he said. “The secret, of course, is that it doesn’t really matter what it is. Whatever you do, because you are an artist, will bring you, however randomly, to the next thing of your own. That’s what happened the last time, isn’t it? You wrote your book.”

“But you were lying to me,” she said. “You pretended you had a magazine, and that I was writing for it.”

“I did potentially have a magazine. I had staff.”

“One person!”

“Two,” he said, “counting you.”

“I can’t work that way,” she told him. “I won’t.”

“It won’t be that way. This is entirely less…speculative.”
Sunday, February 15, 2009

posted 12:00 PM
“Then send Pamela,” she said. “She understands all that. You have an army of people who understand all that. You must.”

“But that’s exactly it. Because they ‘understand all that’, they won’t find the edge. They won’t find the new. And worse, they’ll trample on it, inadvertently crush it, beneath the mediocrity inherent in professional competence. I need a virtual amateur for this. A freelancer.” And he sat back, then, and regarded her in exactly the way he’d regarded the tidy and receding ass of the Italian girl, though in this case, she knew, it had nothing at all to do with sex.
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

posted 2:18 PM
Eventually she sighed, asked the Italian girl for a white coffee, a cup rather than a pot. Got out her iPhone and Googled “Gabriel Hounds”.

By the time her coffee arrived, she had determined that The Gabriel Hounds was the title of a novel by Mary Stewart, had been the title of at least one CD, had been or was the name of at least one band.

Everything, she knew, had been the title of a CD, just as everything had been the name of a band. This was why bands, for the past twenty years or so, had had such pointedly unmemorable names. But the original Gabriel Hounds, it appeared, were folklore, antique legend. Hounds heard coursing, high up in the windy night, cousins it seemed of the Wild Hunt. This was Inchmale territory, definitely, and there seemed to be even weirder variants. Some involving hounds with human heads, or hounds with the heads of human infants. This had to do with the belief that the Gabriel Hounds were hunting the souls of children who died unbaptized. Christian tacked over pagan, she guessed. And the hounds seemed to have originally been “ratchets”, an old word for dogs that hunt by scent. Gabriel Ratchets. Sometimes Gabble Ratchets.

Inchmaleian totally; he’d name the right band the Gabble Ratchets instantly.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


posted 5:51 PM

Bigend's office, when Milgrim was finally ushered in, was windowless and surprisingly small. Perhaps it wasn't that specifically his office, Milgrim thought. It didn't look like an office anyone worked in.

The Swedish boy who'd brought Milgrim in put a gray folder on the teak desk and left silently. There was nothing else on the desk except for a stubby combat shotgun that appeared to have been made from solidified Pepto-Bismol.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


posted 3:25 PM

Zero History, a novel in progress, by William Gibson

image: Alan Nazarian, 2009

[camera meta data: RIM Blackberry 8320]

The blog published fragments so far:

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