Brown left Milgrim in the Korean's laundry for a very long time. Eventually a younger Korean, perhaps the proprietor's son, arrived with a brown-bagged Chinese meal, which he presented to Milgrim with no comment. Milgrim cleared a space among the magazines on the plywood coffee table and unpacked his lunch. Plain rice, boneless chicken nuggets in red dye no. 3, fluorescent-green vegetable segments, finely sliced brown mystery meat. Milgrim prefered the plastic fork to the chopsticks. If you were in prison, he encouraged himself, you'd find this food a treat. Unless you were in a Chinese prison, some less-cooperative part of himself suggested, but he worked his way through it all methodically. With Brown, it was best to eat what you could when the opportunity presented itself.William Gibson broke onto the sci fi scene in 1984 with his first novel Neuromancer which became an instant classic and changed the nature of sci fi, creating a sub-genre called cyber-punk.
As he ate, he thought about the twelfth-century heresy of the Free Spirit. Either God was everything, believed the brethren of the Free Spirit, or God was nothing. And God, to them, was definitely everything. There was nothing that wasn’t God, and indeed how could there be? Milgrim was never one for metaphysics, but now the combination of his captivity, medication on demand, and this text was starting to reveal the pleasure to be had from metaphysical contemplation. Particularly if you were contemplating these Free Spirit guys, who seemed to have been a combination of Charlie Manson and Hannibal Lecter.
And insofar as everything was equally God, they taught, those who were most in touch with the Godness in every last thing would make it a point to do anything at all, particularly anything still forbidden by those who hadn’t yet gotten the Free Spirit message. To which end they went around having sex with anybody they could get to hold still for it, or not, as the case might be--rape being viewed as particularly righteous, and murder equally so. It was like a secret religion of mutually empowered sociopaths, and Milgrim thought it was probably the gnarliest single example of human behavior he’d ever heard of. Someone like Manson, for instance, simply wouldn’t have been able to get any traction, had he landed among the brothers and sisters of the Free Spirit. Probably, Milgrim guessed, Manson would’ve hated it. What good would it be to be Charlie Manson in a whole society of serial killers and rapists, each one convinced that he or she was directly manifesting the Holy Spirit?
I couldn’t say he was my favorite writer, he defies any attempts at categorization. But when I find a new novel of his I buy it immediately and take it home to start reading immediately. First, taking a few moments to contemplate what a pleasure it was to have an entire Gibson novel in front of me, waiting to be read.
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“Neuromancer” was his best novel, indeed one of the best sci fi novels ever written, period, it would be next to impossible to top it. Visionary for it’s time and well written. Although he never matched the success of “Neuromancer” every novel of his since then has been an excellent read and his writing gets better with each one. That’s why I felt the best way to talk about “Spook Country” was to let Gibson speak for himself.