William Gibson

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. "It's not like I'm using," Case heard someone say, as he shouldered his way through the crowd around the door of the Chat. "It's like my body's developed this massive drug deficiency." It was a Sprawl voice and a Sprawl joke. The Chatsubo was a bar for professional expatriates; you could drink there for a week and never hear two words in Japanese.

Superacclaimed (but many feel dreadfully overrated) CyberPunk novelist. Invented the CyberPunk genre along with the term "cyberspace" in his novel Neuromancer.

Neuromancer was allegedly being made into a movie directed by ChrisCunningham, but IMDB doesn't know about it.

First trilogy

Second trilogy Other works Movies Interviews Gibson's newest, PatternRecognition, is now available (ISBN 0399149864 ). I'm only a dozen or so pages in, but I'm liking it so far. There's a review (written by RudyRucker) at Wired.com - http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/11.02/play.html?pg=9. -- MikeSmith

For a while, Gibson had a WebLog (still browsable at http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/blog.asp), but he stopped writing it in 2003.

Gibson's style

All of Gibson's stories can be boiled down to:

If you're Readers Digest, maybe. You read Gibson for the spaces between the action. He gets it right too often; and the pun on microsoft is funny every time.

Maybe if you think that Gibson has some deep insights into the future of our society. IMHO, Gibson's novels have become increasingly uninteresting in that way, and much prefer BruceSterling's novels for social/technological commentary.

Gibson has never really written about the technology. His stories aren't about the technology, or even the future. They're about the present (in this case, the early 80s). They're about the characters. The fact that Case is a cowboy isn't the point of Neuromancer. The story is about his fall from grace and his eventual redemption. Technology is just a backdrop - a convenient canvas upon which to develop human characters.

Someone pointed out that in each book of the second trilogy, the hero escapes from a bar fight when the lights go out. Running joke or unimaginative plotting? You decide.

Used to be a big fan. He got it exceedingly right once (Neuromancer) and has stuck to his formula far too long. A OneHitWonder?. -- RobHarwood

Gibson seems to think ScienceFiction means vinyl clothes and moussed hair. The only interesting science speculation his books ever featured was the notion of jacking in, and that was ripped directly from the 1970s movie version of Toffler's Future Shock. I've always found his writing incredibly stupid and naive. -- PeterMerel

Gibson is all about style - you can definitely see the influence of the beat poets on his writing. Sadly, it seems that he has lost his edge; his last two books have been empty style, prose with no point other than to display his style. In my humble opinion, Gibson's best work, the height of his style was Count Zero, with Virtual Light coming in a close second. And for those who complain about the lack of science speculation - Gibson never really knew anything about technology or science; he was writing about the present, and speculation about technology or even culture was not his intention. Blame the vinyl clothes and moussed hair on it being the 80s. ;)

I rather enjoyed his three "sprawl" novels (first trilogy).

-- sg

I agree that "Glibson" is a supreme example of form over function - the guy knows squat about technical stuff. He does, however, have some great ideas about the direction personal technology is headed and the effect that personalizing technology is going to have on our everyday lives. Too bad it wasn't somebody like ArthurCeeClarke or IsaacAsimov who picked up on this. -- MartySchrader

That's just the point - I preferred Gibson's Sprawl novels (allegedly written on a mechanical typewriter). His ideas were much more visionary when not constrained by knowledge of the technologically possible. I do think with PatternRecognition he's started to repeat himself very obviously. Marly's boxes == Cayce's film clips, Cayce's "logo sense" == Laney's "nodal points", both Marly and Cayce have a rich benefactor paying their expenses on the search for the source of the mysterious art. I still love his writing style though. Cinematic. -- RobertAtkins

I wrote the critique of Gibson's repeated plot devices above, but I think that Pattern Recognition is one of his best books for a long time, and that is partly because of the familiar plot elements and style. Having read all of Gibson's books and short stories, I have become used to his plot and style being used in a futuristic setting, but Pattern Recognition reads exactly like his SF books but is set in the present day (and also largely in an area of London where I used to live and know very well). Personally, that constrast gives the book an unsettling atmosphere: he is saying that we are all living in the cyberpunk future that he wrote/warned about in his earlier work.

The only drawback of the book, personally, was that the plot revolved around brands and the power of brand marketing as a social force. I found the idea that brands are so important quite hard to understand; I and most people I know consider brands and designer labels to be unimportant fluff, not the stuff of global import.

You may believe you consider brands to be fluff, but unless you are in a very tiny minority you are fooling yourself. The average U.S. citizen's life is profoundly affected by brands.

Why anyone thinks the author needs to know squat about technology is beyond me. If you can imagine it, write it. If you write it well enough, the technically-adept may fill in the blanks for you. The idea that Neal Stephenson or Bruce Sterling are somehow superior to Gibson because they write about more technical detail is absurd. That's like saying Tom Calncy is a better writer than Hemingway because Clancy would describe a submariner's watch for three paragraphs, when Hemingway would just say, "He glanced at his watch. 4:30." -- cgw 25apr2005

If you like Gibson, you might enjoy:

CategoryAuthor, CategoryScienceFiction

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