2004-09-27 · in Books, Sprawl · 264 words

The receptionist in the cool grey anteroom of the Gallerie Duprey might well have grown there, a lovely and likely poisonous plant, rooted behind a slab of polished marble inlaid with an enamelled keyboard. She raised lustrous eyes as Marly approached. Marly imagined the click and whirr of shutters, her bedraggled image whisked away to some far corner of Josef Virek's empire.

Teenage hacker Bobby "Count Zero" Newmark is saved by a mysterious power on his first cyberspace run. Security expert Turner, recovering from a job gone badly wrong, is offered the chance to take part in a corporate defection. Art dealer Marly Krushkhova is hired to locate a reclusive artist. As you'd expect from a Gibson book, the fun is in finding out how the storylines are related.

I'd read (and enjoyed) all Gibson's other books, but for some reason I'd never found or bought a copy of this one, the second in the Sprawl trilogy (it follows "Neuromancer" and is concluded by "Mona Lisa Overdrive"; some of Gibson's short stories are set in the same universe too). Several bits of "Mona Lisa Overdrive" now make rather more sense than they did before.

I'd certainly recommend this book as part of the series, but it's the weakest book of the three — there's no particularly interesting technology introduced, the characters aren't anything like as strong as in the other books, and the action scenes are fairly standard fare. (The voodoo-gods-in-cyberspace motif is neat, though.) If you're looking for somewhere to start with Gibson, then pick "Neuromancer" or one of the Bridge books.