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Spook World (transnational and interstitial)

I am starting this thread here to present my own views on the new fragments, due to the obvious Spook Country connections, and to keep myself away from the bustle in Random. It is also less likely that WG will see it out here in the boondocks.

First of all some chronological musings.

WG was probably at the revising stage of Pattern Recognition by 9/11/01. However the rewriting due to the world change delayed the book several months. The book was published in February 2003 (15 months later). He started posting Spook Country fragments the 21st January 2006, stopping in September, and eighteen months later we got the book, four years and a half gap between books. In the eighties the gap was two years, three years in the nineties so the four years in the new century seemed right.

Which is why the current three year gap (it has been three years already!) seems fast. And I cannot forget what he said in London in August 2007: “Gotta go. I have a book to write.”

All these reflections make me think that the new book will be closer to Spook Country, continuous with it, tackling the questions that he still had after finishing it. Spook Country is the most political, and maybe because of this, the most comedic of his works. The problem with Politics is that it is hard to step away. It just keeps happening.

WG has already published novels sharing many characters, in the Bridge series, so it is not unusual. I suspect the “present” setting helps to keep the characters alive in the author’s mind. If we cannot help but ask ourselves “What would Bigend do with this…” while checking the news, I suspect it is even harder for him. Then we have Milgrim, that I believe works as the author’s avatar in that spooky alternate world. If he keeps the political content, he needs his spokesman. These well worn characters would speed up writing, compared to a new set.

That would set up Bigend firmly as the link, which is only natural. If he stays true to form, and splices three narratives, we are missing one of the three, the new one, as we have Hollis/Inchmale in London and Milgrim exploring the USA subconscious. I doubt it will be Tito. As Cayce before, he was left in balance by the novel’s ending, at peace in a good place they could stay in, unlike Hollis or Milgrim, who were on the verge of entering the unknown, with an uncertain future in front of them.

Now the fragments themselves.

The first one, Cabinet, seems now in retrospective to show Hollis voice, the peculiar feeling of someone used to British eccentricity while feeling detached from it. Nothing like an expatriate American for that. The description hovers at the edge of déjà vécu, “I have been to a place like this”, without allowing us to pinpoint a particular example. Brilliant.

Hold the coprophagia amused me, as Hollis is repeating, I suppose, the wikipedia entry that most readers would quickly check too. Circular references. Seems to belong to the same chapter as the first one. And I agree that Number Four is the name of the room. Not a number, a name. I would also like to point out that walrus ivory scrimshaw is thin and longish, better suited for umbrella handles and sticks than bed decoration, so “slabs” just doesn’t feel right, at least as opposed to sperm whale pan bone (often mistaken as ivory), the biggest and densest bone in nature, possibly the best scrimshaw material. I would also like to point out that a right whale lower jaw is 3-4 meters long, so enormous is right, and it really puts Number Four into the biggie class.

Cricket once again seems to follow closely the previous fragment. If I was amused by the wikipedia quote, its repetition becomes hilarious, although the duplication of heavy for the handset does not feel right. Once again we have three steps to the phone, to transmit that old house/big room feeling. The interaction between Hollis and Hubertus just seems a natural evolution of the one in Spook Country, with Hollis no longer bound to him as an employee but yet knowing how insistent Hubertus is when he wants something. To me it says that they have possibly not been in touch after the jingle affair, but that Inchmale has hit it off with him, so she remains indirectly aware of him.

Clearly money is no longer a problem for Hollis, a pleasant change that allows her to set some terms in her interaction with Bigend.

The Gabriel Hounds. A change of scenario, from Cabinet to Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, from London to South Carolina (I was not surprised to check that there is a Brooks Brothers in the 51 of Via della Vigna Nuova, in Florence). Once again I see Milgrim channeling more or less raw Gibson feelings. But this time he seems less detached, an actor of sorts rather than an uninvolved (almost) observer. The question then is what game is Bigend playing that requires Milgrim’s touch. I suppose that would make me happy, as I was among those that thought that it was Bigend who called Milgrim at the end of SC, and we know that he is curious and stubborn enough to make the effort to track him down, and maybe find out what Hollis was up to in Vancouver.
 
Bill said he had only written the first 100 pages of PR when 9/11 happened.

Here is my theory:

You are either William Gibson taking the piss or a friend of his who he told to type this up.

Or are you merely a fan of satire?
 
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He's a friend... of mine and several other Wigbers. And a fan of satire.
 
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Excellent. I'm always happy to see a ghost from the past. It's intelligent threads like these that make me almost regret the way I read and digest novels. Fragments don't mean much to me (comical, when I consider how I write mysefl) if I know there's more to come. I absorb them and enjoy them, but my mind is too eager to see the whole thing. Always been a big picture guy, and it makes it hard for me to delve too deeply into the minutia of the pies on the shelf.
 
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A new treat. Fifteen has one of Gibson’s trademarked descriptive paragraphs, gorgeous except for the use of Anaheim as a verb. A bit of a stumbling block for me, and I suppose for others. Is it Disneylandesque growth? Bastardization of the former rural character? Both? Neither? It also marks Milgrim, together with the Los Angeles comment, as Californian in my mind, instead of the previous New Yorker jadedness. Not that we know much about him.

Then we have the popular but false buzzword of having your blood changed to beat an addiction. However I see it as a sign that Milgrim had little control on the procedure that was performed on him, so he remembers how many times he was connected to a machine and saw his blood coming out and supposedly new blood (his own, hemodialized) coming in. It is agreed that this system would work to speed up beating the physical component of addiction for liposoluble drugs, but the psychological addiction would remain.

Finally, Oliver is doomed to be one of those characters we cannot help but despise, and the goatee is just the confirmation. Minion, henchman, whatever, he is there to be a tool. It is surprising how, just seeing an image of those goatee guides, he went a step lower in my appreciation. And a sign of Gibson’s word magic.
 
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How significant is it that William Gibson was born in Conway, South Carolina, which is mentioned in the latest fragment Fifteen, just inland from Mrytle Beach , the location of the previous fragment The Gabriel Hounds ?

Who has paid for Milgrim's 15 blood transfusions at a clinic in Basel, Switzerland and why ?

Is this an echo of Case and his drug dependency "cure" from the Chiba clinic in Neuromancer ?
 
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I have never heard of blood transfusions as addiction treatment, I can't find anything about it online. Maybe it's from an article he read or he is just using the method Case had.

If that is the "case" then he might be wrong about it being an actual treatment in 2009.

Also, why wouldn't Milgrim know what he was talking about when he said 12 Step?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Memetic Engineer:
Is this an echo of Case and his drug dependency "cure" from the Chiba clinic in Neuromancer ?


i very much thought the same thing when i read that.

and given the connection with sleight, one can't help but suspect that bigend has come up with some use for milgrim and decided to "sponsor" his clean up.

as for location, i can't remember was milgrim taken by brown in new york? i guess that would make sense. but i tend to think of the washington background that is suggested from various comments about his past life.

also. i think its useful for this kind of thread to do what we did last time, which is to link back to the extracts as a tracking device:

CABINET
HOLD THE COPROPHAGIA
CRICKET
THE GABRIEL HOUNDS
FIFTEEN

got them all?
 
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Nice remote.

Fifteen steps in Basel.
The puppenkopf museum, Gutenburg printing and Schwabe publishing.

Sleight and Milgrim are definitely con-men in their inconspicuous Taurus X.

I really like the name Sleight Big Grin
 
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I would dig deeper than Case, because I think that if WG was aware of that kind of connection, he would avoid it. And the original, as so often happens is false. I believe it was Keith Richards who inspired both Case's recovery and now Milgrim's.

So I stuck with hemodialysis, both because it is actually used in exclusive resorts to shorten the detoxification step (unlike blood change, which is a recipe for many kinds of disasters), and it actually looks as if they are changing your blood. But it made me wonder, as benzodiazepines, as most lipophilic compounds, would not be good candidates for dialysis (unlike what I mistakenly said above, as that is true for hydrosoluble compounds, but diuretics would also work then). However there is a procedure from 2006, optimized to dialyze glycoproteins, that apparently does work with benzodiazepines.

So a rigid exercise regime, to reduce the fat deposits, and modified dialysis to reduce the blood levels quickly and to avoid re-deposition could be a workable approach. A secondary effect would be, most surely, a reduction in weight which would require new clothes. Supposing that he still had a benzodiazepine addiction, rather than heroin, for instance.

As you can see I prefer to fit reality to the text, rather than fit the text to reality when it is not really needed.

Gibson is finding, I suspect, that his preferred hyperspecific style gives him many problems in the details. Because it is not enough that something could exist in the "real world", but as long as he can make sure, it should exist there.

So locations become those he knows, or that people he trusts have explored. Conway appears more because he went there in his recent visit to SC than because he was born there. Of course he went to Conway because he had been born there, as he visited Myrtle because he had gone in his childhood. But I believe they appear in the book because he experienced them in the present, so he can describe his own impressions, rather than an attachment to those places.

Milgrim's only memory of Washington is three weeks working for the Clinton administration. In Spook Country he comes across as NY intelligentsia fallen in dire straits, unwilling to leave the city even with a dealer after him. So Brown actually did him a favor.

As long as he does not suddenly speak Spanish, I have no problem with him being a transplanted Californian, or to have spent the two-three years in-between books in California. It just struck me as unusual.

I did not know what 12 step meant, though I do now. Maybe I am Milgrim.
 
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the comparison to case's blood change is contextual given that they are both gibson. but in real terms, i don't see the techniques as comparable, since case had something futuristic done to him, while anything that happens with milgrim, like you suggest, is based in a hard firm reality, so has to have more backing to it.

i would imagine that if an addiction takes a sudden greater effect in new york then thats where you would feel connected to for supplying that addiction. regardless, thats just an observation, i can't really recall off the top of my head the precise details in the book, and am happy to bow to better memories.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ghost from the Past:
A new treat. Fifteen has one of Gibson’s trademarked descriptive paragraphs, gorgeous except for the use of Anaheim as a verb.


Yeah, the "Anaheiming" gave me pause, too. I could Google it, of course, but it didn't trigger any connections for me, otherwise.

And the blood changing? What? Do they do that? The first thing I thought of was Case.
 
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keeping the list up to date
CABINET
HOLD THE COPROPHAGIA
CRICKET
THE GABRIEL HOUNDS
FIFTEEN
SPECIES

i'm curious, i know people are speculating the female character is hollis, but does the tone of this new piece ring of hollis? would she refer to herself as "the species of clueless motherfuckers to which she herself so fully belonged"? though, i guess, the tone of these pieces is different because perhaps the emotions involved are different. in someways she was on guard because she was gauging a situation, in need of the work, and now she is in, and is just pissed off.
 
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quote:

i'm curious, i know people are speculating the female character is hollis, but does the tone of this new piece ring of hollis?


Unless there is another female character who also knows Inchmale, then it is likely to be Hollis, who was specifically named in the Cricket fragment.

Listening to the "BBC through an ornate bronze grate" sounds like a retro styled steampunk radio (or perhaps bathroom fittings), which would fit in with the decor of the Number Four room at the Cabinet club.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Memetic Engineer:
Unless there is another female character who also knows Inchmale, then it is likely to be Hollis, who was specifically named in the Cricket fragment.


well, thats what i wondered, the speculation as to whether there would be a third character, and whether that could be a female character as yet un-named.

though, mostly thinking out loud.
 
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I say the third character is a new one. I also say that there are more than three POV characters.

I think Damien will show up at some point.

And Voytek.

Looking less likely to see any cayce except maybe a cameo. But Peter would fit in with all the musicians.
 
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Species. A short set up piece about the bleak XXIst century, as seen through Hollis eyes, which is not necessarily WG. I find her relying maybe too much on Inchmale, rather than thinking by herself, which is not too strange considering their common story, but unhealthy if we consider his wife, and that she probably has little to no sex life. She needs to find someone else, and considering how WG gravitates towards happy endings (for those who survive, that is) and that we were missing it in SC, maybe this is just "Spook Country 2, finding the right man for Hollis."

Discounting adultery, we have few viable candidates so far, with Hubertus the only one with potential. As you can see I am in the Bigend-likers camp (Bigend-lovers may be taking it a bit too far).

The capitalism comment would place the piece in spring 2008, summer the latest, which means roughly two years after SC.
 
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I don't see why it would be Summer at the latest. The economy tanked in the summer and it's still tanking. It could be today.

I agree with you, Hollis invokes "waht would Inchmale do..." too often.
 
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funnily, i nearly posted a thread before to discuss hollis. not in the who does she look more like, but more as in who she is.

who is hollis?
what did spook country say about her?
at what point was she in her life?
here she is a woman who was a big rock star, scraping for work, seemingly a little lost. compare her to the rest of the surviving members of the band and where they are in their life - they both seem more accomplished and assured, less lost (even if heidi isn't necesarily 100% about it).

one almost wonders, is her life the kind of mess where she might actually be attracted to milgrim? he strikes as having a certain potential charm, a certain amount of stories that he could tell that would be amusing. a sort of fatal relationship, that would be bad news, and she would know, but still...
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Ghost from the Past:
She needs to find someone else, and considering how WG gravitates towards happy endings (for those who survive, that is) and that we were missing it in SC, maybe this is just "Spook Country 2, finding the right man for Hollis."


I thought she had an interest in Garreth.

I heard of dialysis being used to sober up fast (by doctors). My boss is a paramedic and tells stories sometimes.
 
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Anaheiming makes perfect sense to me, referring to the increased plasticization and global homogenization syndrome I'm always howling about--Robson Street and Whistler being two notable instances in my area, of quirky and individual places that used to be instantly recognizable, but have now become just another GAP and Starbucks-infested mall.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by UberDog:
I don't see why it would be Summer at the latest. The economy tanked in the summer and it's still tanking. It could be today.


Very true, certainly in the United Kingdom.

The background flavour of Recession and Depression looks likely to last long enough to remain topical throughout the new novel's writing and traditional publishing cycle (two or three years ?)

Can the traditional book publishing business model last that long ?

Will this be the first William Gibson novel to be published first, or at least simultaneously, in electronic format ?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by theminx:
Anaheiming makes perfect sense to me, referring to the increased plasticization and global homogenization syndrome I'm always howling about--Robson Street and Whistler being two notable instances in my area, of quirky and individual places that used to be instantly recognizable, but have now become just another GAP and Starbucks-infested mall.


Is that the same process as "regooding" as described by William Gibson in his blog posting of Saturday, June 02, 2007 : READERS ASK: THE WINTER MARKET ?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Memetic Engineer:
quote:
Originally posted by theminx:
Anaheiming makes perfect sense to me, referring to the increased plasticization and global homogenization syndrome I'm always howling about--Robson Street and Whistler being two notable instances in my area, of quirky and individual places that used to be instantly recognizable, but have now become just another GAP and Starbucks-infested mall.


Is that the same process as "regooding" as described by William Gibson in his blog posting of Saturday, June 02, 2007 : READERS ASK: THE WINTER MARKET ?

No no no.

Regooding was taking something that had become industrial and bleak and making it human again.

Anaheiming is, in my understanding, taking something perhaps beautiful but at least unique and honest, and processing it into something the Disney Corporation would be proud to mass market. (Anaheim being the home of Disneyland, of course.)
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Memetic Engineer:
Will this be the first William Gibson novel to be published first, or at least simultaneously, in electronic format ?


Not if the Kindle 2 is 359 dollars.

OK, I lied, there will likely be both formats, but not many people will care about the electronic format right now. Plus, we haven't even begun to see what piracy of books will be like when those things are cheap.

Hollis "could fancy" Garreth. But the narrative potential is much greater with Hubertus. Not that said potential consciously guides his fingers at the keyboard, but...
 
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I think regooding and Anaheiming are slightly different. Regooding is a process of making a Bohemia (usually a decrepit urban center) into a safe, charming, "quirky" host of commerce. Anaheiming, if I get the meaning, is more just the flattening of everything (usually suburban or rural areas around freeways) with parking lots and warehouse outlets, Home Depots, Walmarts and embedded Starbuck's.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by colin:
I think regooding and Anaheiming are slightly different. Regooding is a process of making a Bohemia (usually a decrepit urban center) into a safe, charming, "quirky" host of commerce. Anaheiming, if I get the meaning, is more just the flattening of everything (usually suburban or rural areas around freeways) with parking lots and warehouse outlets, Home Depots, Walmarts and embedded Starbuck's.


Is that like embedded journalists? These poor Starbucks trying to get coffee to the obese, sweaty populace as they steamroll into a new Ikea, cottage cheese thighs a-shaking, stuffing sample meatballs into their mouths like trying to plug existential vacuums within, tromping through with children in Kool Aid stained Poekmon shirt, the mass leak of raw American humanity braying like wild donkey's to get themselves some consumables which they will, indeed, consume, and with gusto, to move onto the next product, as their morbid obesity becomes someone else's problem, uikely the government's, certainly not theirs, and please hurry the fuck up in the drive-thru line so I can get at my fries becuase I haven't stuffed that hole for a half hour and there is seepage and I am really and truly afraid something real might leak out on the way to prostrate myself before the Mouse God.
 
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Something like that, yes.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by UberDog:
But the narrative potential is much greater with Hubertus.


I am worried by the fact that every time you speculate about the story I want you to be utterly utterly wrong.
 
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quote:
I am worried by the fact that every time you speculate about the story I want you to be utterly utterly wrong.


You are not alone.

And I can assure you I'm not the only one who agrees with you.
 
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That was an overreaction...
The brain is not broken...
When it snows at 60 degrees fahrenheit, everybody says what the fuck.
Once upon a time there was a farrett who hid behide the fleshy ferns. One day Qwasal, the farrett, saw a varient vortex in the medium. The strange thing was &*@79278w589.....
and he read on...
 
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quote:
Originally posted by colin:
.Regooding is a process of making a Bohemia (usually a decrepit urban center) into a safe, charming, "quirky" host of commerce.


Surely when Walt Disney turned plantations of orange and walnut trees into Disneyland, he also changed them into "a safe, charming, "quirky" host of commerce." ?



"An aerial view of Disneyland in 1956. The entire route of the Disneyland Railroad is clearly visible as it encircles the park."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D...yland_Park_(Anaheim)
 
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Yes, the end result is similar in some ways. You get some of the same stores in the two types of place, and the same goal (to sell stuff). But the starting points are different, and there are some differences in the end points, too. By my interpretation, regooding tries to retain some of the character of the original place (and there is an original place to retain the character of), to repurpose that character so that it can be used for selling, while Anaheiming is building a shopping mall on a swamp-- pure, plastic boxes of sale priced goods dropped out of the sky, the same anywhere and everywhere (again, by my interpretation).
 
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quote:
Originally posted by UberDog:
quote:
Originally posted by Memetic Engineer:
Will this be the first William Gibson novel to be published first, or at least simultaneously, in electronic format ?


Not if the Kindle 2 is 359 dollars.

OK, I lied, there will likely be both formats, but not many people will care about the electronic format right now. Plus, we haven't even begun to see what piracy of books will be like when those things are cheap.

Hollis "could fancy" Garreth. But the narrative potential is much greater with Hubertus. Not that said potential consciously guides his fingers at the keyboard, but...


KIndle sales are picking up.
 
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quote:
Not if the Kindle 2 is 359 dollars.


Average US broadband consumer pays $600/yr to 'read' the internet.

And it's ALL digital, and it's ALL small enough to fit into something the size of a book, which is typically the size of a somewhat shrunken laptop.

The Kindle Book Club. $200 rebate on the Kindle with a year's subcsription to the Kindle Book Feed.
 
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quote:
Anaheiming is, in my understanding, taking something perhaps beautiful but at least unique and honest, and processing it into something the Disney Corporation would be proud to mass market. (Anaheim being the home of Disneyland, of course.)


Smack me preemptively, I know this deserves it but: Anaheim Steamroller.
 
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quote:
I agree with you, Hollis invokes "waht would Inchmale do..." too often.


It's natural. They made their fortunes together; he shrewdly managed his, she lost hers.
 
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quote:
Plus, we haven't even begun to see what piracy of books will be like when those things are cheap.


Let us balance that against the expense of... 'remaindering', I think it's called?
 
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