Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 797
Hollis Henry first appears in Spook Country, the novel preceding Zero History . She found her previous working relationship with Bigend (ostensibly, she was to write for Node, a European version of Wired) noxious and resents the ways that he lied to her, tracked her movements, and...
(The entire section contains 797 words.)
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- Critical Essays
Hollis Henry first appears in Spook Country, the novel preceding Zero History. She found her previous working relationship with Bigend (ostensibly, she was to write for Node, a European version of Wired) noxious and resents the ways that he lied to her, tracked her movements, and manipulated her. However, after a recent stock market collapse, Hollis has lost half her assets and reluctantly agrees to work for Hubertus Bigend again.
Hollis used to be the lead singer in The Curfew, but she has turned her back on both singing and music. Since Spook Country ended, she has written a book about her experiences investigating Locative Art but now is looking for a new direction. Her relationship with Garreth has seemingly cooled. In short, Hollis is lost and aimless at the start of Zero History.
By the end of the novel, Hollis has regained a great deal of her confidence and ability. First, she determines to quit working for Bigend rather than helping him discover the designer behind Gabriel Hounds. Finally, she even sings during the climax of the novel to calm Chombo down after he is recovered. The novel closes as she renews her relationship with Garreth and agrees to marry him. The only complication is that she still has nightmares about her time with Bigend.
Milgrim is Zero History’s second protagonist and was also introduced in Spook Country. Milgrim is a highly skilled Russian translator. However, he has little memory of the past ten years of his life because he has been addicted to painkillers. However, Bigend has taken an interest in Milgrim and has financed his rehabilitation and therapy, a process that included changing his blood. Now clean, Milgrim is very insightful but is often socially awkward as he attempts to overcome his fears and as his personality transforms.
At the start of the novel, Milgrim is required to take medication and urine tests on a regular basis. Sleight is his handler; he is also Bigend’s I.T. man. Sleight watches Milgrim’s movements by tracking his phone. Up to this point, Milgrim has always done what Sleight has asked of him. However, he begins to resent that his movements are tracked and the orders he receives from Sleight.
Milgrim also begins to look out for himself. When Winnie first photographs Milgrim, he has a panic attack. However, when he finds out that she is from the Department of Defense, he is willing to cooperate with her. To some extent, he is helping Bigend learn who is after him, but he also seems concerned with helping himself.
The biggest change in Milgrim stems from his relationship with Bigend’s motorcycle courier Fiona. Fiona takes an interest in Milgrim and slowly seduces him. Milgrim, however awkwardly, returns her affections. By the end of the novel, they kiss. It seems that Milgrim has completed his therapy. He has been taking placebos for months. He is ready to return to “normal” society.
Hubertus Bigend is Belgian and is the head of Blue Ant. He is considered a marketing guru, and he advocates unusual leadership and management philosophies. Bigend may be an expert in marketing fashion but he seems to have no taste and wears electric cobalt blue suits. Although his leadership is under siege throughout much of the novel, by the end of Zero History Bigend is more powerful than ever. Some people have begun to speculate that he has become so powerful that it is impossible for him to fail. However, Bigend argues that his wealth is a byproduct of his curiosity.
Winnie Tung Whitaker
Winnie Tung Whitaker works for the American Department of Defense. She is of Asian descent and she uses Twitter to keep in touch with her children—and with Milgrim. Winnie claims to have a “hard on” for Gracie and hopes to “throw” Bigend and his lawyers in Gracie’s way. Winnie’s connection with Milgrim instigates the espionage aspects of Zero History, particularly as Bigend and Gracie come into conflict.
Michael Preston Gracie
Gracie is not seen until the very end of the novel when he prepares to shoot Chombo during the prisoner exchange. He does not speak but is tasered by Milgrim. Gracie began his career in the Special Forces, where he was taught to believe that he could do everything. He fought in Iraq and then tried to become a consultant there. However, he was too late to cash in on America’s war and reconstruction efforts, so he instead began consulting in Southeast Asia. He not only trained police officers but began to illegally supply arms and armor. Gracie sees designing and manufacturing clothing for the American military as a way to legitimize his business. Therefore, he sees Bigend as a competitor.