Hollis Henry worked for the global marketing magnate Hubertus Bigend once before. She never meant to repeat the experience. But she's broke, and Bigend never feels it's beneath him to use whatever power comes his way -- in this case, the power of money to bring Hollis onto his team again. Not that she knows what the "team" is up to, not at first.
Milgrim is even more thoroughly owned by Bigend. He's worth owning for his useful gift of seeming to disappear in almost any setting, and his Russian is perfectly idiomatic - so much so that he spoke Russian with his therapist, in the secret Swiss clinic where Bigend paid for him to be cured of the addiction that would have killed him.
Garreth has a passion for extreme sports. Most recently he jumped off the highest building in the world, opening his chute at the last moment, and he has a new thighbone made of rattan baked into bone, entirely experimental, to show for it. Garreth isn't owned by Bigend at all. Garreth has friends from whom he can call in the kinds of favors that a man like Bigend will find he needs, when things go unexpectedly sideways, in a world a man like Bigend is accustomed to controlling.
As when a Department of Defense contract for combat-wear turns out to be the gateway drug for arms dealers so shadowy that even Bigend, whose subtlety and power in the private sector would be hard to overstate, finds himself outmaneuvered and adrift in a seriously dangerous world.
©2010 William Gibson; ©2010 Penguin Audiobooks
The Bigend trilogy could have been a smarter version of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - essentially this is that series if Delillo (circa White Noise) had been at the keyboard. They are both fun and sharp, but what one lacks in sticky insights the other lacks in action, and each (like the reader) suffers a bit. Bigend is a great idea for a character, but there isn't much "there there" - HH's endless soul searching is fatiguing and Milgrim (who ought to be a little more like Bourne, imho) just comes across as muddle minded. All that said, it is filled with good stuff about what would best be characterized as a long rumination on the nerd hive mind. If you are interested in memes, gear/fashion fetish culture and corporate design espionage, this is the only game in town.
The narration is quite good, but this book needs editing. I have been a fan of Gibson for most of my life, and I quite liked the first of his recent books set in the present day, Pattern Recognition. But the second one was less interesting , and this, the third in the series, has every character speaking almost exactly alike, constantly asking each other to explain things that were just explained in the narration, and way, way too much detail. The color and texture of every object in the book is noted. And if you're not that into fashion, you're going to find the whole premise mystifying. Anyway, l recommend Pattern Recognition instead.
mostly nonfiction listener
Gibson's most famous quote (which I'm sure he's tired of by now) is, "the future is already here – it's just not very evenly distributed". If Gibson's next book is to be on higher education he would not find a better place to start his research than at EDUCAUSE.
Zero History, the 3rd book in Gibson's Bigend trilogy, is about fashion (or anti-fashion), military contracting, inflatable spy drones, and much else. If you read Pattern Recognition and Spook Country (and if you have not you should), I'm betting that Zero History is already on your reading device. If you are not a Gibson reader you should become one.
What would Bigend, the multimillionaire founder of the viral advertising / cool hunting agency Blue Ant, want to know about higher education?
In Pattern Recognition, Blue Ant is described this way:
"Relatively tiny in terms of permanent staff, globally distributed, more post-geographic than multinational, the agency has from the beginning billed itself as a high-speed, low-drag life-form in an advertising ecology of lumbering herbivores."
Perhaps in the next book, Gibson will have Bigend create a similarly nimble and agile university. Or perhaps he will advise existing institutions on how to become more like Blue Ant.
It's an interesting story, set in a current time, with very unique characters and story. At times, it felt a little slow, as the author dwelled on details that are low priority to the story.
He has a great voice, and does a good job creating voicings of the various characters.
The book Zero History spends too much time on details.I don't need to know when one of the character has to go to the bathroom and why in detail. Zero History is a zero.
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