I had an odd coincidence happen to me yesterday. I finished reading William Gibson’s Spook Country literally minutes before news regarding Osama’s death broke. You could use a lot of genre nouns to describe this book, none of which involve science fiction. “Thriller” is an easy one and “Futurist” is another, although both only really apply structurally: the thrills aren’t too thrilling and the future written about is maybe 2 weeks away as opposed to 20 years.
The easiest and most thrown about word though seems to be “Post-Millenial”, as Gibson was writing from a perspective that took not only global politics and 9/11 into account but also a sort of cultural malaise that has effected the cultural landscape during the aughts. It’s this malaise that I believe is to thank for the recent glut of post-apocalyptic novels and post-human non-fiction, but for all intents and purposes, Spook Country is a book more set in the “now” than any other I’ve read for a very long time.
The book ends anticlimactically, which many people have found disappointing but I found appropriate as it only punctuates the book’s ability to capture the openended zeitgeist of the past 10 years. A time that, to me at least, feels nothing more than endlessly anticipatory.
I wandered down to Ground Zero today because, hey, why not – I work 3 blocks away and the place I usually get pizza at is literally around the corner. There were few tourists in the area that weren’t heading towards or leaving it yet there was no real collection point that I found. Aside from the enthusiasm of lunching construction workers and the glut of wandering tourists, it was a normal Monday out there. Nothing had changed.
My friend Neal tweeted the following this morning: “So w/ OBL dead can we get out of the weird depressing pocket universe we’ve spent the 21st century in so far?” In recounting three different perspectives on Bin Laden’s death earlier today, Liz forgot that of mine and Neal’s. Specifically: is it over yet?