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Zero History  By  cover art

Zero History

By: William Gibson
Narrated by: Robertson Dean
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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

Critic Reviews

“[Gibson] weaves an unnerving tapestry of technology, violence and anxiety.” (The Daily Telegraph (London))

“Fascinating.” (The Seattle Times

“Uncanny.” (San Antonio Express-News

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What listeners say about Zero History

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

17 people found this 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.

9 people found this helpful

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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.

6 people found this 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.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Best of the three

I really enjoyed the book. No, it's not "about fashion." Fashion is just part of the setting. It's about how people think, about marketing and about why people want what they want and do what they do. It's about how the term "secret brand" can exist without being an oxymoron. It's about what's interesting, and it's interesting itself. So, for all of that, plus the cleverness of Gibson's prose, I recommend the book. There were a couple little things that bugged me, which is why I didn't give it 5 stars. The characters in the story are almost all very privileged, very smart, very given to communicating with short bursts of words. Nobody worries about where their next meal is coming from. They work without knowing how much they'll be paid or when. They just do what's in front of them if it seems interesting. That seems to be as true for the main character as it is for less consequential characters that have fairly menial service "jobs." I can understand that people like that exist in the world, but not in such a commonplace way that there would be so many in the same story, unless this is some kind of semi-utopian world where that's become the norm, something that you'd want the author to devote at least a sentence to. It gives the whole thing a feeling of airy unreality. <Minor spoiler ahead> The other thing is that the main character, Hollis, stops being interesting as soon as her boyfriend shows up. Even though he's basically an adrenaline junky that does stupid things for a living, he's somehow very smart, capable, connected, blah, blah, blah like all the others and just takes over. He gives commands without so much as a "please," and she just does what he says. You can write it off as her being in love and relieved to see him, but it just doesn't quite jive with the independence she showed all the way through the beginning of the story, and it bugs me when characters seem to suddenly shift like that without adequate justification. Anyway, good book, well written, and my objections sound worse than they are.

1 person found this helpful

  • 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.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Gibson has won me over. Excellent series

William Gibson has now floated into my top five authors in audiobooks. Amazing ability to spin a tale, develop characters, make a scene come to life and all with an interesting plot that keeps you coming back for more. Though this book is probably the weakest of the trilogy, it still is a solid 5 star, Only wish I could get my hands on all of Gibson's books on audio. Word of advice, start with book one of this trilogy. I used Wikipedia for gibson to tell me the order of books of the trilogy.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    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 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Gibson does it again

Cinematic in scope , Mr. Gibson creates tension and drama between contrasting characters which carries through to a climactic finish

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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