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Zero History

Narrated by: Robertson Dean
Series: Blue Ant, Book 3
Length: 13 hrs and 11 mins
4 out of 5 stars (639 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gibson's Amazing Zero History

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

good reading, not very good book

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.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Aaron
  • Troy, MI, United States
  • 09-11-10

Bigend needed a little more Blomkvist

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.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A brilliant writer who just gets better and better

William Gibson used to write about the future, but, by the time he got to spook country (the prequel of this book) he was writing about the present, not because his genera had changed, rather because it had stayed the same and time had passed such that he was now writing about the present.
Zero history is a classic Gibson book. It makes you want to start a company and build something he has so easily and deftly imagined.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An unofficial sequel to Spook Country.

The pleasure of Gibson is the texture of his prose. The story is entertaining but the gritty detail is the real attraction.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting. Like a tv show plot

it's ok. not great. but easy going read. with gibson it's about the characters not the story

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

gibson, give us more.

as i await the release of agency, i am re-reading some of my favorite gibson books. this is a fantastic end to the blue ant series, which is an ingenious study of consumerism and counter culture. start with pattern recognition and go through this thoroughly enjoyable trilogy. zero history has a compelling plot full of well-developed characters and just enough invention to keep you listening for the future. highly recommend.

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  • Makros
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 06-08-18

Not as good as Spook Country

The story was quite slow-moving the first two-thirds. Character development to be charitable, but no forshadowing at all about what conflict might arise. Set in Europe, with Gibson's signature flair for detailed narration.
About the narrator: Robertson Dean has a wonderful voice.
But the story: Basically an epilogue continuation of Spook Country, with Milgrim on center stage. His character redeemed after a lengthy rehab center. Only read this if you are a complete-ist fan of William Gibson.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An excellent capstone on the series.

Would you consider the audio edition of Zero History to be better than the print version?

For my purposes as a commuter, I find it better. The narration was top-notch, and the story is received equally well when read and when heard.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Milgram. He changes from the beginning of the book to the end.

Have you listened to any of Robertson Dean’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Excellent, once again. I didn't know why he changed Milgram's voice, but it made sense after the story developed.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Global ideas, global consequences.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not quite as good as Pattern Recognition, but better than Spook Country

A fitting end to the Bigend Trilogy. The members of The Curfew are more real. The prose are just excellent.