- William Gibson
name = William Gibson
imagesize = 300px
caption = William Gibson in August 2007
birthdate = birth date and age|mf=yes|1948|3|17
Conway, South Carolina
United States, Canada
period = 1977–
Cyberpunk, steampunk, postcyberpunk
notableworks = "
Neuromancer" (novel, 1984)
awards = Nebula, Hugo, Philip K. Dick, Ditmar, Seiun, Prix Aurora
Alfred Bester,cite web|url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_01_01_archive.asp#90244012 |title=The Matrix: Fair Cop| first=William|last=Gibson |date=2003-01-28|accessdate=2007-11-04] Jorge Luis Borges,cite web|url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_01_01_archive.asp#90180207 |title=Philip K. Dick |date=2007-01-13|first=William|last=Gibson|accessdate=2007-11-04] William S. Burroughs,cite web|url=http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.07/gibson.html|title=God's Little Toys: Confessions of a cut & paste artist |last=Gibson|first=William |year=2005|month=July|publisher= Wired.com|accessdate=2007-11-04] Joseph Cornell, David Cronenberg,cite web |url=http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/int/1999/04/29/cronenberg/index.html |title=You Can Never Read Too Much Into It |accessdate=2007-11-06 |last=Rapp |first=Alan E. |date=1999-04-29 |work=Arts & Entertainment |publisher= Salon.com] Samuel R. Delany, Thomas M. Disch,cite web|url=http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_01_01_archive.asp#90199532 |title=Influences Generally |date=2003-01-18|first=William|last=Gibson|accessdate=2007-11-26] Manny Farber, Dashiell Hammett,cite book | last = McCaffery | first = Larry | authorlink = Larry McCaffery | title = Storming the Reality Studio: a casebook of cyberpunk and postmodern science fiction | origyear = 1991 | accessdate = 2007-11-05 | publisher = Duke University Press| location = Durham, North Carolina| isbn = 9780822311683 | oclc = 23384573 | pages = pp. 263–285 | chapter = An Interview with William Gibson | chapterurl =http://project.cyberpunk.ru/idb/gibson_interview.html] Howard Hawks,cite book | last = Tatsumi | first = Takayuki | title = Saibapanku Amerika =: Cyberpunk America | publisher = Keiso Shobo | location = Tokyo| year = 1988 | language = Japanese | isbn = 9784326098248 | oclc = 22493233] Ursula K. Le Guin, Sogo Ishii, Thomas Pynchon, Lou Reed, Joanna Russ, Robert Stone
Lewis Call, [Call, Lewis, "Anarchy in the Matrix: Postmodern Anarchism in the Novels of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling", " Anarchist Studies", Volume 7, No. 2.] Cory Doctorow,cite web |last= Dyer-Bennet |first= Cynthia |url= http://www.well.com/conf/inkwell.vue/topics/95/Cory-Doctorow-Talks-About-Nearly-page02.html#post43 |title=Cory Doctorow Talks About Nearly Everything |accessdate=2007-08-30 |work=Inkwell: Authors and Artists |publisher= The Well] Richard K. Morgan,cite web |url= http://www.richardkmorgan.com/article_recread.htm |title=Recommended Reading List |accessdate=2007-11-05 |last=Morgan |first=Richard |authorlink=Richard Morgan (author)] Linda Nagata, Neal Stephenson, Charles Stross,cite web |url= http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue343/interview.html |title=Charles Stross' dense stories have made him a Singularity sensation |accessdate=2007-11-22 |work=Scifi.com ] John MacLachlan Gray
website = http://WilliamGibsonbooks.com
William Ford Gibson (born March 17, 1948) is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the "noir prophet" of the
cyberpunksubgenre of science fiction.cite news |first=William |last=Gibson |title=Modern boys and mobile girls |url= http://observer.guardian.co.uk/life/story/0,,466391,00.html |work=The Japan issue |publisher=" The Observer" |date=2001-04-01 |accessdate=2007-10-28 ] Gibson coined the term " cyberspace" in his short story "Burning Chrome" and later popularized the concept in his debut novel, " Neuromancer" (1984). In envisaging cyberspace, Gibson created an iconography for the information agebefore the ubiquity of the Internetin the 1990s. [cite web |last=Schactman |first=Noah | work=Wired |title=26 Years After Gibson, Pentagon Defines 'Cyberspace' |url=http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/05/pentagon-define.html |date=2008-05-23] He is also credited with predicting the rise of reality televisionand with establishing the conceptual foundations for the rapid growth of virtual environments such as videogames and the Web.
Having changed residence frequently with his family as a child, Gibson became a shy, ungainly teenager who often read science fiction. After spending his adolescence at a private boarding school in Arizona, Gibson dodged the draft during the
Vietnam Warby emigrating to Canada in 1968, where he became immersed in the countercultureand after settling in Vancouvereventually became a full-time writer. He retains dual citizenship. Gibson's early works are bleak, noirnear-future stories about the effect of cyberneticsand computer networks on humans – "lowlife meets high tech".Cite web
title=Interview: Dr. Timothy Leary, From the Psychedelic Sixties to the Electronic Eighties
year=1986] The short stories were published in popular science fiction magazines. The themes, settings and characters developed in these stories culminated in his first novel, "Neuromancer", which garnered critical and commercial success, virtually initiating the so-called "cyberpunk" literary style.
Although much of Gibson's reputation has remained associated with "Neuromancer", his work has continued to evolve. After expanding on "Neuromancer" with two more novels to complete the dystopic
Sprawl trilogy, Gibson became an important author of another science fiction sub-genre— steampunk—with the 1990 alternate historynovel " The Difference Engine", written with Bruce Sterling. In the 1990s he composed the Bridge trilogyof novels, which focused on sociological observations of near-future urban environments and late capitalism. His most recent novels—"Pattern Recognition" (2003) and " Spook Country" (2007)—are set in a contemporary world and have put his work onto mainstream bestseller lists for the first time.
Gibson is one of the most well known North American science fiction writers, fêted by "
The Guardian" in 1999 as "probably the most important novelist of the past two decades". Gibson has written more than twenty short stories, nine critically acclaimed novels (one in collaboration), and a poem, and has contributed articles to several major publications and collaborated extensively with performance artists, filmmakers and musicians. His thought has been cited as an influence on science fiction authors, design, academia, cyberculture, and technology.
Childhood, itinerance, and adolescence
William Ford Gibson was born in 1948 in the coastal city of
Conway, South Carolinaand spent most of his childhood in Wytheville, Virginia, a small town in the Appalachianswhere his parents had been born and raised.cite web |url=http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/sciencefiction/story/0,,2146989,00.html |title=Space to think |accessdate=2007-10-26 |last=Adams |first=Tim |coauthors=Emily Stokes, James Flint |date= 2007-08-12|work=Books by genre |publisher= The Observer] His family moved frequently during Gibson's youth due to his father's position as manager of a large construction company. While Gibson was still a young child,Ref_label|A|I|none his father choked to death in a restaurant while on a business trip. His mother, unable to tell William the bad news, had someone else inform him of the death.cite news
last = Solomon | first = Deborah
title = Back From the Future
work = Questions for William Gibson
pages = 13
publisher = "
The New York Times Magazine"
url = http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/magazine/19wwln-q4-t.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
accessdate = 2007-10-13 ] epigraph
quote =Loss is not without its curious advantages for the artist. Major traumatic breaks are pretty common in the biographies of artists I respect.
cite =William Gibson, interview with "
The New York Times Magazine", August 19, 2007. A few days after the death, Gibson's mother returned them from their home in Norfolk, Virginiato Wytheville. Gibson later described Wytheville as "a place where modernityhad arrived to some extent but was deeply distrusted" and credits the beginnings of his relationship with science fiction, his "native literary culture", with the subsequent feeling of abrupt exile.cite web
accessdate=2007-11-04] At thirteen, unbeknownst to his mother, he purchased an anthology of Beat writing, thereby gaining exposure to the writings of
Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs; Burroughs had a particularly pronounced effect, greatly altering Gibson's notions of the possibilities of science fiction literature.
A shy, ungainly teenager, Gibson consciously rejected religion and took refuge in reading science fiction and edgier, renegade writers such as Burroughs and
Henry Miller.cite news |first=John |last=Marshall |title=William Gibson's new novel asks, is the truth stranger than science fiction today? |url=http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/books/107368_gibson06.shtml |work=Books |publisher= Seattle Post-Intelligencer|date= 2003-02-06|accessdate=2007-11-03 ] At fifteen, he was sent to a private boarding school in Tucson, Arizonaby his then "chronically anxious and depressive" mother, who had remained in Wytheville since the death of her husband and who died when Gibson was nineteen. Tom Maddoxhas commented that Gibson "grew up in an America as disturbing and surreal as anything J.G. Ballardever dreamed".cite web
url = http://www.dthomasmaddox.com/virus23.html
title = Maddox on Gibson
accessdate = 2007-10-26
last = Maddox
first = Tom
authorlink = Tom Maddox
year = 1989
quote = This story originally appeared in a Canadian 'zine, Virus 23, 1989.]
Draft-dodging, exile, and counterculture
After his mother's death, Gibson left school without graduating and became very isolated for a long time, traveling to
Californiaand Europe and immersing himself in the counterculture. In 1967, he elected to move to Canadain order "to avoid the Vietnam war draft". At his draft hearing, he honestly informed interviewers that his intention in life was to sample every mind-altering substancein existence. Gibson has observed that he "did literally evade the draft, as they never bothered drafting me"; after the hearing he went home and purchased a bus ticket to Toronto, and left a week or two later.cite video |people= Mark Neale(director), William Gibson (subject) |title= No Maps for These Territories|publisher=Docurama |medium=Documentary |year2 =2000] In the biographical documentary " No Maps for These Territories" (2000) Gibson said that his decision was motivated less by conscientious objectionthan by a desire to "sleep with hippiechicks" and indulge in hashish. He elaborated on the topic in a 2008 interview:In Toronto he found the émigré community of American draft dodgers unbearable due to the prevalence of clinical depression, suicideand hardcore substance abuse. He appeared, during the Summer of Loveof 1967, in a CBC newsreel item about hippie subculturein Yorkville, Toronto, [cite video|url= http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-69-580-3157/life_society/hippies/clip3 |title=Yorkville: Hippie haven |date2 =1967-09-04 |format = 14 min Windows Media Video; "This is Bill" appears first after 0:45 cite video|url= http://archives.cbc.ca/IDC-1-69-1587-10799/life_society/60s/clip11 |title= Rochdale College: Organized anarchy |format = 16 min radio recording Windows Media Audio; interviews start after 4:11 |publisher= CBC.ca|location= Yorkville, Toronto|accessdate=2008-02-01] for which he was paid $500 – the equivalent of 20 weeks rent – which financed his later travels.cite web |url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_05_01_archive.asp#200226493 |title=That CBC Archival Footage |accessdate=2007-11-26 |last=Gibson |first=William |date= 2003-05-01] Aside from a "brief, riot-torn spell" in the District of Columbia, Gibson spent the rest of the 1960s in Toronto, where he met a Vancouver girl with whom he subsequently traveled to Europe. Gibson has recounted that they concentrated their travels on European nations with fascistregimes and favourable exchange rates, including spending time on a Greek archipelagoand in Istanbulin 1970, as they "couldn't afford to stay anywhere that had anything remotely like hard currency".cite web |url= http://w2.eff.org/Misc/Publications/William_Gibson/rogers_gibson.interview |title=In Same Universe |accessdate=2007-11-06 |author=Mike Rogers |date= 1993-10-01|publisher=Lysator Sweden Science Fiction Archive |archiveurl = http://web.archive.org/web/200704/www.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/english016/gibson/gibson2.int |archivedate=2007-04-19]
The couple married and settled in
Vancouver, British Columbiain 1972, with Gibson looking after their first child while they lived off his wife's teaching salary. During the 1970s Gibson made a substantial part of his living from scouring Salvation Army thrift stores for underpriced artifacts he would then up-market to specialist dealers.cite journal |url= http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.01/ebay.html |title=My Obsession |last=Gibson |first=William |accessdate=2007-12-02 |journal=Wired.com |year=1999 |month=January |issue=7.01 ] Realizing that it was easier to sustain high college grades, and thus qualify for generous student financial aid, than to work, he enrolled at the University of British Columbia(UBC), earning "a desultory bachelor's degree in English" in 1977. [cite journal
title = UBC Alumni: The First Cyberpunk
journal = UBC Reports
volume = 50
issue = 3
University of British Columbia
url = http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/ubcreports/2004/04mar04/gibson.html
accessdate = 2007-11-02] Through studying
English literature, he was exposed to a wider range of fiction than he would have read otherwise; something he credits with giving him ideas inaccessible from within the culture of science fiction, including an awareness of postmodernity. It was at UBC that he attended his first course on science fiction, at the end of which he was encouraged to write his first short story, " Fragments of a Hologram Rose".
Post-graduation, early writing, and the evolution of cyberpunk
After considering pursuing a
master's degreeon the topic of hard science fictionnovels as fascist literature, Gibson discontinued writing in the year that followed graduation and, as one critic put it, expanded his collection of punk records.cite book | last = Calcutt | first = Andrew | title = Cult Fiction | publisher = Contemporary Books | location = Chicago | year = 1999 | isbn = 9780809225064 |oclc = 42363052] During this period he worked at various jobs, including a three-year stint as teaching assistanton a film history course at his alma mater. Impatient at much of what he saw at a science fiction conventionin Vancouver in 1980 or 1981, Gibson found a kindred spirit in fellow panelist, punk musician and author John Shirley.cite book | last = McCaffery | first = Larry | title = Storming the Reality Studio: a casebook of cyberpunk and postmodern science fiction | publisher = Duke University Press| location = Durham, North Carolina| year = 1991 | isbn = 9780822311683 | oclc = 23384573] The two became immediate and lifelong friends, and it was Shirley who persuaded Gibson to sell his early short stories and to take writing seriously.
Through Shirley, Gibson came into contact with science fiction authors
Bruce Sterlingand Lewis Shiner; reading Gibson's work, they realised that it was, as Sterling put it, "breakthrough material" and that they needed to "put down our preconceptions and pick up on this guy from Vancouver; this [was] the way forward." Gibson met Sterling at a science fiction convention in Denver, Coloradoin the autumn of 1981, where he read "Burning Chrome" – the first cyberspace short story – to an audience of four people, and later stated that Sterling "completely got it".
In October 1982 Gibson traveled to
Austin, Texasfor ArmadilloCon, at which he appeared with Shirley, Sterling and Shiner on a panel called "Behind the Mirrorshades: A Look at Punk SF", where Shiner noted "the sense of a movement solidified".cite book | last = Shiner | first = Lewis |authorlink=Lewis Shiner |coauthors=George Edgar Slusser, Tom Shippey | title = Fiction 2000:Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative | publisher = University of Georgia Press | location = Athens | year = 1992 | chapter=Inside the Movement: Past, Present and Future |isbn = 9780820314259 |oclc = 24953403] After a weekend discussing rock'n'roll, MTV, Japan, fashion, drugsand politics, Gibson left the cadre for Vancouver, declaring half-jokingly that "a new axis has been formed." Sterling, Shiner, Shirley and Gibson, along with Rudy Rucker, went on to form the core of the radical cyberpunkliterary movement. [cite book
last = Bould
first = Mark
editor = David Seed
title = A Companion to Science Fiction
accessdate = 2007-11-26
year = 2005
publisher = Blackwell Publishing Professional
isbn = 9781405112185
oclc = 56924865
pages = 217–218
chapter = Cyberpunk ]
Early short fiction
Gibson's early writings are generally near-future stories about the influences of
cyberneticsand cyberspace(computer-simulated reality) technology on the human race. His themes of hi-tech shanty towns, recorded or broadcast stimulus (later to be developed into the "sim-stim" package featured so heavily in " Neuromancer"), and dystopic intermingling of technology and humanity, are already evident in his first published short story, " Fragments of a Hologram Rose" (1977). The latter thematic obsession was described by his friend and fellow author, Bruce Sterling, in the introduction of Gibson's short story collection " Burning Chrome", as "Gibson's classic one-two combination of lowlife and high tech." [cite book |last=Gibson |first=William |coauthors= Bruce Sterling| chapter= Introduction | title= Burning Chrome|year=1986 |publisher=Harper Collins |location=New York |isbn=0060539828 |oclc = 51342671]
In the early 1980s, Gibson's stories appeared in "Omni" and "Universe 11", wherein his fiction developed a
film noir, bleak feel. He consciously distanced himself as far as possible from the mainstream of science fiction (towards which he felt "an aesthetic revulsion", expressed in " The Gernsback Continuum"), to the extent that his highest goal was to become "a minor cult figure, a sort of lesser Ballard." When Bruce Sterlingstarted to distribute the stories, he found that "people were just genuinely baffled... I mean they literally could not parse the guy's paragraphs... the imaginative tropes he was inventing were just beyond peoples' grasp."
Larry McCafferyhas commented that these early short stories displayed flashes of Gibson's ability, science fiction critic Darko Suvinhas identified them as "undoubtedly [cyberpunk's] best works", constituting the "furthest horizon" of the genre. The themes which Gibson developed in the stories, the Sprawlsetting of "Burning Chrome" and the character of Molly Millionsfrom " Johnny Mnemonic" ultimately culminated in his first novel, " Neuromancer".
quote =The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
cite = opening sentence of "
Neuromancer" (1984) "Neuromancer" was commissioned by Terry Carrfor the third series of Ace Science Fiction Specials, which was intended to exclusively feature debut novels. Given a year to complete the work, [cite web |url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_09_01_archive.asp#1062520986072822474 |title=Neuromancer: The Timeline|accessdate=2007-11-26 |last=Gibson |first=William |date= 2003-09-04] Gibson undertook the actual writing out of "blind animal terror" at the obligation to write an entire novel – a feat which he felt he was "four or five years away from". After witnessing the first twenty minutes of landmark cyberpunk film " Blade Runner" (1982) which was released when Gibson had written a third of the novel, he "figured ["Neuromancer"] was sunk, done for. Everyone would assume I’d copped my visual texture from this astonishingly fine-looking film."cite web |url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_01_01_archive.asp#90199532 |title=Oh Well, While I'm Here: Bladerunner |accessdate=2008-01-21 |last=Gibson |first=William |date= 2003-01-17] He re-wrote the first two-thirds of the book twelve times, feared losing the reader's attention and was convinced that he would be "permanently shamed" following its publication; yet what resulted was a major imaginative leap forward for a first-time novelist. "Neuromancer"'s release was not greeted with fanfare, but it hit a cultural nerve, quickly becoming an underground word-of-mouthhit. It became the first novel to win the "triple crown" of science fiction awards (the Nebula, the Hugo, and Philip K. Dick Awardfor paperbackoriginal), eventually selling more than 6.5 million copies worldwide. [cite web |url= http://lrc.reviewcanada.ca/index.php?page=71---80 |title=77. Neuromancer (1984) |accessdate=2007-09-09 |last=Cheng |first=Alastair |work=The LRC 100: Canada's Most Important Books |publisher=Literary Review of Canada] Lawrence Personin his "Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto" (1998) identified "Neuromancer" as "the archetypal cyberpunk work",cite journal |last=Person |first=Lawrence |year=1998 |month=Winter/Spring |title=Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto |journal=Nova Express |volume=4 |issue=4 |url= http://features.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=99/10/08/2123255 |accessdate= 2007-11-06] and in 2005, "Time" magazine included it in their list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923, opining that " [t] here is no way to overstate how radical ["Neuromancer"] was when it first appeared."cite web |url=http://www.time.com/time/2005/100books/0,24459,neuromancer,00.html |title=Neuromancer (1984) |accessdate=2007-11-06 |last=Grossman |first=Lev |coauthors=Richard Lacayo |work=TIME Magazine All-Time 100 Novels |publisher=Time] According to literary critic Larry McCaffery, the auspiciousness of the novel was in its originality of vision, exhilarating prose, and technological similes and metaphors. He described the concept of the matrix as a place where "data dance with human consciousness... human memory is literalized and mechanized... multi-national information systems mutate and breed into startling new structures whose beauty and complexity are unimaginable, mystical, and above all nonhuman." Gibson later commented on himself as an author circa "Neuromancer" that "I'd buy him a drink, but I don't know if I'd loan him any money," and referred to the novel as "an adolescent's book". The success of "Neuromancer" was to effect the 34-year old Gibson's emergence from obscurity.
The Sprawl trilogy, "The Difference Engine", and the Bridge trilogy
Although much of Gibson's reputation has remained rooted in "Neuromancer", his work continued to evolve conceptually and stylistically. Despite adding the final sentence of "Neuromancer", “He never saw Molly again”, at the last minute in a deliberate attempt to prevent himself from ever writing a sequel, he did precisely that with "
Count Zero" (1986), a slower-paced character-focused work set in the Sprawlalluded to in its predecessor.cite web |url=http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_01_01_archive.asp#90158337 |title= (untitled weblog post) |accessdate=2008-01-21 |last=Gibson |first=William |date= 2003-01-01] He next intended to write an unrelated postmodern space opera, titled "The Log of the Mustang Sally", but reneged on the contract with Arbor Houseafter a falling out over the dustjacketart of their hardcover of "Count Zero".cite web |url=http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2005_08_01_archive.asp#112417337358385397 |title=The Log of the Mustang Sally |accessdate=2008-01-21 |last=Gibson |first=William |date= 2005-08-15] Abandoning "The Log of the Mustang Sally", Gibson instead wrote " Mona Lisa Overdrive" (1988), a stylistically virtuosic novel which in the words of Larry McCaffery "turned off the lights" on cyberpunk literature. It was a culmination of his previous two novels, set in the same universe with shared characters, thereby completing the Sprawl trilogy. The trilogy solidified Gibson's reputation, with both later novels also earning Nebula and Hugo Awardnominations.
The Sprawl trilogy was followed by the 1990 novel "
The Difference Engine", an alternate history novel Gibson wrote in collaboration with Bruce Sterling. Set in a technologically advanced Victorian eraBritain, the novel was a departure from the authors' cyberpunk roots. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novelin 1991 and the John W. Campbell Memorial Awardin 1992, and is often cited as a central novel of the steampunkgenre.cite news | first = Peter | last = Bebergal | title = The age of steampunk | url = http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2007/08/26/the_age_of_steampunk/ | publisher = The Boston Globe| page = 3
2007-08-26| accessdate = 2007-10-14]
Gibson's second series, "the
Bridge trilogy", is composed of " Virtual Light" (1993), a "darkly comic urban detective story", " Idoru" (1996), and "All Tomorrow's Parties" (1999). It centers on San Franciscoin the near future and evinces Gibson's recurring themes of technological, physical, and spiritual transcendence in a more grounded, matter-of-fact style than his first trilogy.cite web |url= http://www.playboy.com/arts-entertainment/reviews/books/spook-country/spook-country.html |title=Spook Country |accessdate=2007-11-06 |last=Alexander |first=Scott |date= 2007-08-09|work=Arts & Entertainment |publisher= Playboy.com] The Salon.com's Andrew Leonard notes that in the Bridge trilogy, Gibson's villains change from multinational corporations and artificial intelligences of the Sprawl trilogy to the mass media– namely tabloid television and the cult of celebrity,cite web |url= http://www.salon.com/books/feature/1999/07/27/macleod_interview/ |title=An engine of anarchy |last=Leonard |first=Andrew |date= 1999-07-27|work=Books |publisher= Salon.com] "Virtual Light" depicts an "end-stage capitalism, in which private enterpriseand the profit motive are taken to their logical conclusion". Leonard's review called "Idoru" a "return to form" for Gibson,cite web |url=http://archive.salon.com/21st/books/1998/09/14books.html |title=Is cyberpunk still breathing? |accessdate=2007-11-06 |last=Leonard |first=Andrew |date= 1998-09-14|publisher= Salon.com] while critic Steven Pooleasserted that "All Tomorrow's Parties" marked his development from "science-fiction hotshot to wry sociologistof the near future."
Late period, 21st century incarnation
quote =…I felt that I was trying to describe an unthinkable present and I actually feel that science fiction's best use today is the exploration of contemporary reality rather than any attempt to predict where we are going…The best thing you can do with science today is use it to explore the present. Earth is the alien planet now.
cite =William Gibson in an interview on
CNN, August 26, 1997. After "All Tomorrow's Parties", Gibson began to adopt a more realist style of writing, with continuous narratives – "speculative fiction of the very recent past."cite web |url= http://calitreview.com/2007/10/02/william-gibson-the-father-of-cyberpunk/ |title=An Interview With William Gibson The Father of Cyberpunk |accessdate=2007-10-04 |last= Dueben|first= Alex |date= 2007-10-02|publisher="California Literary Review"] Science fiction critic John Clutehas interpreted this approach as Gibson's recognition that traditional science fictionis no longer possible "in a world lacking coherent 'nows' to continue from", characterizing it as "SF for the new century".cite web |url=http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue305/excess.html |title=The Case of the World |last=Clute |first=John |authorlink=John Clute |accessdate=2007-10-14 |work=Excessive Candour |publisher=SciFi.com ] Gibson's novels "Pattern Recognition" (2003) and " Spook Country" (2007) were set in the same contemporary universe – "more or less the same one we live in now"cite journal|url= http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,2080922,00.asp |title=Q&A: William Gibson |first=Angela |last=Chang |journal= PC Magazine|volume=26|issue=3| date= 2007-01-10|pages=19] – and put Gibson's work onto mainstream bestseller lists for the first time. [cite web |url= http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20030510/ai_n12684401 |title=Books: Hardbacks |accessdate=2007-07-08 |last=Hirst |first=Christopher |date= 2003-05-10|publisher= The Independent] As well as the setting, the novels share some of the same characters, including Hubertus Bigendand Pamela Mainwaring – employees of the enigmatic marketing company Blue Ant.
A phenomenon peculiar to this era was the independent development of annotating fansites,
PR-Otakuand " Node Magazine", devoted to "Pattern Recognition" and "Spook Country" respectively. These websites tracked the references and story elements in the novels through online resources such as Wikipediaand collated the results, essentially creating hypertextversions of the books.cite web |url= http://www.salon.com/books/int/2007/08/11/william_gibson/index.html |title=Now Romancer |accessdate=2007-10-30 |last=Lim |first=Dennis |date= 2007-08-11|publisher= Salon.com] Critic John Sutherland characterised this phenomenon as threatening "to completely overhaul the way literary criticismis conducted".cite news |first=John |last=Sutherland |authorlink=John Sutherland (author) |title=Node idea |url= http://books.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2159309,00.html |work= Guardian Unlimited|publisher= Guardian Media Group|date= 2007-08-31|accessdate=2007-11-11 ]
September 11, 2001 attacks, with about 100 pages of "Pattern Recognition" written, Gibson had to re-write the main character's backstory, which had been suddenly rendered implausible; he called it "the strangest experience I've ever had with a piece of fiction." [cite news |first=Dennis |last=Lim |title=Think Different |url= http://www.villagevoice.com/books/0307,lim2,41824,10.html |work= The Village Voice|publisher= Village Voice Media|date= 2003-02-18|accessdate=2007-11-11] He saw the attacks as a nodal pointin history, "an experience out of culture",cite web |url=http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/books/2003/02/13/gibson/index.html |title=Nodal point |accessdate=2007-11-06 |last=Leonard |first=Andrew |date= 2003-02-13|publisher= Salon.com] and "in some ways... the true beginning of the 21st century."cite web |url= http://www.smh.com.au/news/books/a-reality-stranger-than-fiction/2007/09/06/1188783376158.html |title=A reality stranger than fiction |accessdate=2008-01-21 |last=Bennie |first=Angela |date= 2007-09-07|work= Sydney Morning Herald|publisher= Fairfax Media] He is noted as one of the first novelists to use the attacks to inform his writing. Examination of cultural changes in post-September 11th America, including a resurgent tribalismand the "infantilization of society", [cite web |url=http://thetyee.ca/Books/2007/10/18/WillGibson/ |title=William Gibson Hates Futurists |accessdate=2007-10-26 |work=TheTyee.ca ] became a prominent theme of Gibson's work. [cite web |url=http://www.cbc.ca/bc/bookclub/williamgibson2.html |title=William Gibson with Spook Country |accessdate=2007-10-26 |work=Studio One Bookclub | publisher=CBC British Columbia] The focus of his writing nevertheless remains "at the intersection of paranoia and technology".cite web |url= http://www.projo.com/books/content/BOOK-GIBSON_09-16-07_376TE7P.53f53f.html |title=Gibson still scares up a spooky atmosphere |accessdate=2007-10-26 |work= Providence Journal] On August 1, 2008, Gibson announced that he was in the process of writing a new novel. [cite web|url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2008_08_01_archive.asp#2351244691138896880 |title=The Hot, Glistening Tarbaby That Is Bloggery | first=William|last=Gibson |date=2008-09-01|accessdate=2008-09-01]
Collaborations, adaptations, and miscellanea
Three of the stories that later appeared in "
Burning Chrome" were written in collaboration with other authors: " The Belonging Kind" (1981) with John Shirley, " Red Star, Winter Orbit" (1983) with Bruce Sterling,cite news |first=Joel |last=Garreau |title=Through the Looking Glass |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/05/AR2007090502582_pf.html |publisher=" The Washington Post" |date= 2007-09-06|accessdate=2007-10-30 ] and "Dogfight" (1985) with Michael Swanwick. Gibson had previously written the foreword to Shirley's 1980 novel "City Come A-walkin'"cite web|url= http://www.darkecho.com/JohnShirley/gibson.html |title=Foreword to "City Come a-walkin'" |date= 1996-03-31|accessdate=2007-05-01| first=William|last=Gibson] and the pair's collaboration continued when Gibson wrote the introduction to Shirley's short story collection "Heatseeker" (1989).cite web
url = http://www.locusmag.com/index/s296.html |title = Stories, Listed by Author |accessdate = 2007-10-29 |last = Brown |first = Charles N. |authorlink = Charles N. Brown |coauthors = William G. Contento |year =
2004-07-10|work = The Locus Index to Science Fiction (1984–1998) |publisher= Locus |archiveurl= http://web.archive.org/web/20070304205021/http://www.locusmag.com/index/s296.html |archivedate=2007-03-04] Shirley convinced Gibson to write a story for the television series "Max Headroom" for which Shirley had written several scripts, but the network canceled the series.
Gibson and Sterling collaborated again on the short story "The Angel of Goliad" in 1990, which they soon expanded into the novel-length alternate history story "
The Difference Engine" (1990). The two were later "invited to dream in public" (Gibson) in a joint address to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences Convocation on Technology and Education in 1993 ("the Al Gorepeople"), in which they argued against the digital divide[cite web |url = http://www.well.com/gopher/Publications/authors/Sterling/Sterling_and_Gibson_at_the_Academy
title = Speeches by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling at the National Academy of Sciences, Washington D.C
accessdate = 2007-10-29 |last = Sterling |first = Bruce |authorlink = Bruce Sterling |coauthors = William Gibson |date =
1993-05-10|publisher = The WELL] and "appalled everyone" by proposing that all schools be put online, with education taking place over the Internet. In a 2007 interview, Gibson revealed that Sterling had an idea for "a second recursive science novel that was just a wonderful idea", but that Gibson was unable to pursue the collaboration due to his not being creatively free at the time.
In 1993, Gibson contributed lyrics and featured as a guest vocalist on
Yellow Magic Orchestra's " Technodon" album, [cite web|url=http://www.discogs.com/release/432896 |title=Yellow Magic Orchestra - Technodon |accessdate=2008-01-10 |work= Discogs] and wrote lyrics to the track "Dog Star Girl" for Deborah Harry's " Debravation".cite news |first=Degen |last=Pener |title= EGOS & IDS; Deborah Harry Is Low-Key -- And Unblond |url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE6DC1239F931A1575BC0A965958260&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/H/Harry,%20Debbie |publisher= The New York Times|date= 1993-08-22|accessdate=2007-11-07 ]
Film adaptations, screenplays, and appearances
Gibson was first solicited to work as a
screenwriterafter a film producerdiscovered a waterlogged copy of "Neuromancer" on a beach at a Thai resort. [cite journal |journal= |url=http://www.textfiles.com/sf/cyberlit.txt |title=Cyber Lit |year=1992 |month=June |first=Gavin |last=Edwards |issue=134 |accessdate=2008-09-29] His early efforts to write film scripts failed to manifest themselves as finished product; "Burning Chrome" (which was to be directed by Kathryn Bigelow) and "Neuro-Hotel", for example, were two attempts by the author at film adaptations that were never made.cite interview |last=Gibson |first=William |interviewer=Giuseppe Salza |city=Cannes |year=1994 |month=May |url=http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/235 |accessdate=2007-10-28] In the late 1980s he wrote an early version of " Alien³" (which he later characterized as "Tarkovskian"), few elements of which survived in the final version.Gibson's early involvement with the film industry extended far beyond the confines of the Hollywoodblockbuster system. At one point, he collaborated on a script with Kazakh director Rashid Nugmanovafter an American producer had expressed an interest in a Soviet-American collaboration to star Russian-Korean star Victor Tsoi.cite web |url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_03_01_archive.asp#90416069
title=Victor Tsoi |accessdate=2007-12-03 |last=Gibson |first=William |date=
2003-03-06] Despite being occupied with writing a novel, Gibson was reluctant to abandon the "wonderfully odd project" which involved "ritualistic gang-warfare in some sort of sideways-future Leningrad" and sent Jack Womackto Russia in his stead. Rather than producing a motion picture, a prospect that ended after Tsoi's death in an automotive accident, Womack's experiences in Russia ultimately culminated in his novel " Let's Put the Future Behind Us" and informed much of the Russian content of Gibson's "Pattern Recognition". A similarly doomed fate befell Gibson's mooted collaboration with Japanese filmmaker Sogo Ishiiin 1991, a film they plotted on shooting in the Walled City of Kowloonuntil the city was demolished in 1993.cite web|url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2006_07_01_archive.asp#115354123358489417 |title=Burst City Trailer |first=William |last=Gibson |date= 2006-07-21|accessdate=2007-11-26] Adaptations of Gibson's fiction have frequently been optioned and proposed, to limited success. Two of the author's short stories, both set in the Sprawl trilogyuniverse, have been loosely adapted as films: "Johnny Mnemonic" (1995) with screenplay by Gibson and starring Keanu Reeves, Dolph Lundgrenand Takeshi Kitano, and "New Rose Hotel" (1998), starring Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, and Asia Argento. The former was the first time in history that a book was launched simultaneously as a film and a CD-ROM interactive video game.cite web |url=http://www.mg.co.za/articledirect.aspx?articleid=293681&area=%2farts_movies%2f |title=Blade Runner on electro-steroids |accessdate=2007-11-11 |last=Walker |first=Martin |date= 1996-09-03|work=Mail & Guardian Online |publisher= M&G Media] "Neuromancer", after a long stay in development hell, is in the process of adaptation as of 2007, [cite web |url= http://www.joblo.com/index.php?id=15997 |title=Neuromancer comes |accessdate=2007-08-27 |work= JoBlo.com] " Count Zero" was at one point being developed as "The Zen Differential" with director Michael Mann attached, and the third novel in the Sprawl trilogy, " Mona Lisa Overdrive", has also been optioned and bought. An animeadaptation of " Idoru" was announced as in development in 2006, [cite web|url= http://cyberpunkreview.com/movie/upcoming-movies/william-gibsons-idoru-coming-to-anime | date= 2006-04-21|title=William Gibson’s Idoru Coming to Anime |publisher=cyberpunkreview.com] and "Pattern Recognition" was in the process of development by director Peter Weir, although according to Gibson the latter is no longer attached to the project. [cite web |url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2007_05_01_archive.asp#2514436070772070825
title=I've Forgotten More Neuromancer Film Deals Than You've Ever Heard Of |accessdate=2007-11-04 |last=Gibson |first=William
2007-05-01] Television is another arena in which Gibson has collaborated; he co-wrote with friend Tom Maddox, " The X-Files" episodes "Kill Switch" and "First Person Shooter", broadcast in the U.S. on 20th Century Fox Televisionin 1998 and 2000.cite web |url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HDN/is_2000_Feb_24/ai_59615707 |title="X-Files" Writer Fights For Online Privacy |accessdate=2007-07-13 |last=Fridman |first=Sherman |date=2000-02-24 |work=News Briefs |publisher=Newsbytes PM |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20040922035743/http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HDN/is_2000_Feb_24/ai_59615707 |archivedate=2004-09-22 ] In 1998 he contributed the introduction to the spin-off publication "Art of the X-Files". Gibson made a cameo appearance in the television miniseries " Wild Palms" at the behest of creator Bruce Wagner.cite web|url=http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2006_07_01_archive.asp#115361118165031237 |title=Where The Holograms Go |first=William |last=Gibson |date= 2006-07-22|accessdate=2007-11-26] Director Oliver Stonehad borrowed heavily from Gibson's novels to make the series,cite news |first=Adam |last=Platt |title=Cyberhero |url=http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1993/08/16/1993_08_16_024_TNY_CARDS_000364256 |work=The Talk of the Town |publisher= The New Yorker|date= 1993-09-16|page=24 |accessdate=2007-11-06 |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/19990223224043/http://multiweb.evolution.com/clients/mindvox/newyorker.html |archivedate=1999-02-23 ] and in the aftermath of its cancellation Gibson contributed an article, "Where The Holograms Go", to the "Wild Palms Reader". He accepted another acting role in 2002, appearing alongside Douglas Couplandin the short film"Mon Amour Mon Parapluie" in which the pair played philosophers. [cite web |url=http://22.214.171.124/mamp/cast/cast.htm |title=Cast |accessdate=2007-10-26 |work=Mon Amour Mon Parapluie ] Appearances in fiction aside, Gibson was the focus of a biographical documentary filmby Mark Neale in 2000 called " No Maps for These Territories". The documentary follows Gibson over the course of a drive across North America discussing various aspects of his life, literary career and cultural interpretations. It features interviews with Jack Womackand Bruce Sterling, as well as recitations from "Neuromancer" by Bonoand The Edge.
Exhibitions, poetry, and performance art
Gibson has contributed text to be integrated into a number of
performance artpieces. In October 1989, Gibson wrote text for such a collaboration with acclaimed sculptor and future "Johnny Mnemonic" director Robert Longocite journal |url=http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/3.06/gibson.html |title=Remembering Johnny |accessdate=2008-01-10 |last=van Bakel |first=Rogier |journal=Wired |year=1995 |month=June | issue=3.06] titled "Dream Jumbo: Working the Absolutes", which was displayed in Royce Hall, University of California Los Angeles. Three years later, Gibson contributed original text to "Memory Palace", a performance show featuring the theater group La Fura dels Bausat Art Futura '92, Barcelona, which featured images by Karl Sims, Rebecca Allen, Mark Pellingtonwith music by Peter Gabrieland others. It was at Art Futura '92 that Gibson met Charlie Athanas, who would later act as dramaturg and "cyberprops" designer on Steve Pickering and Charley Sherman's adaptation of "Burning Chrome" for the Chicago stage. Gibson's latest contribution was in 1997, a collaboration with critically acclaimed Vancouver-based contemporary dancecompany Holy Body Tattooand Gibson's friend and future webmaster Christopher Halcrow.cite web|url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_05_01_archive.asp#200367789 |title=Holy Body Tattoo |last=Gibson |first=William |date= 2003-05-31|accessdate=2007-11-11]
In 1990, Gibson contributed to "Visionary San Francisco", an exhibition at the
San Francisco Museum of Modern Artshown from June 14 to August 26. [cite book | last = Polledri | first = Paolo | title = Visionary San Francisco | publisher = Prestal | location = Munich | year = 1990 |oclc=22115872 | isbn = 3791310607 ] He wrote a short story, " Skinner's Room", set in a decaying San Franciscoin which the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridgewas closed and taken over by the homeless– a setting Gibson then detailed in the Bridge trilogy. The story inspired a contribution to the exhibition by architects Ming Fung and Craig Hodgetts that envisioned a San Francisco in which the rich live in high-tech, solar-powered towers, above the decrepit city and its crumbling bridge. The architects exhibit featured Gibson on a monitor discussing the future and reading from "Skinner's Room".cite web|url= http://www.skierpage.com/gibson/biblio.htm |title=William Gibson Bibliography / Mediagraphy |accessdate = 2008-02-09 |author = S. Page] " The New York Times" hailed the exhibition as "one of the most ambitious, and admirable, efforts to address the realm of architecture and cities that any museum in the country has mounted in the last decade", despite calling Ming and Hodgetts's reaction to Gibson's contribution "a powerful, but sad and not a little cynical, work".cite news |first=Paul |last=Goldberger |title=In San Francisco, A Good Idea Falls With a Thud |url= http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE1DB103CF931A2575BC0A966958260 |work=Architecture View |publisher= The New York Times|date= 1990-08-12|accessdate=2007-11-06 ] A slightly different version of the short story was featured a year later in "Omni". [cite journal |last=Gibson |first=William |year=1991 |month=November |title= Skinner's Room|journal=Omni ]
A particularly well-received work by Gibson was "
Agrippa (a book of the dead)" (1992), a 300-line semi-autobiographical electronic poem that was his contribution to a collaborative project with artist Dennis Ashbaughand publisher Kevin Begos, Jr. [cite book
last = Liu
first = Alan
title = The laws of cool : knowledge work and the culture of information
University of Chicago Press
isbn = 0226486982
oclc = 53823956
pages = pp. 339–48] Gibson's text focused on the ethereal nature of memories (the title refers to a
photo album) and was originally published on a 3.5" floppy diskembedded in the back of an artist's bookcontaining etchings by Ashbaugh (intended to fade from view once the book was opened and exposed to light – they never did, however). Gibson commented that Ashbaugh's design "eventually included a supposedly self-devouring floppy-disk intended to display the text only once, then eat itself." [cite web|url= http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/source/source.asp |title=Introduction to Agrippa: A Book of the Dead |last=Gibson |first=William |year=1992 |accessdate=2007-11-11] Contrary to numerous colorful reports, the diskettes were never actually "hacked"; instead the poem was manually transcribed from a surreptitious videotapeof a public showing in Manhattanin December 1992, and released on the MindVoxBBS the next day; this is the text that circulated widely on the Internet. [ cite book
last = Kirschenbaum
first = Matthew G.
title = Mechanisms : new media and the forensic imagination
origyear = 2008
edition = 2
isbn = 9780262113113
oclc = 79256819
accessdate = 2007-11-11
chapter = Hacking ‘Agrippa’: The Source of the Online Text.
chapterurl = http://agrippa.english.ucsb.edu/kirschenbaum-matthew-g-hacking-agrippa-the-source-of-the-online-text/]
Gibson is a sporadic contributor to "Wired", and has written for "
The Observer", "Addicted to Noise", " New York Times Magazine" and " Rolling Stone". He commenced writing a blogin January 2003, providing voyeuristic insights into his reaction to "Pattern Recognition", but abated in September of the same year due to concerns that it might negatively affect his creative process.cite news |first=Andrew |last=Orlowski |title=William Gibon 'gives up blogging' |url=http://www.theregister.co.uk/2003/04/25/william_gibson_gives_up_blogging/ |work=Music and Media |publisher= The Register|date= 2003-04-25|accessdate=2007-11-03 ] [cite web
accessdate=2007-11-26] Gibson re-commenced blogging in October 2004, and during the process of writing "
Spook Country" frequently posted short nonsequential excerpts from the novel to the blog. [cite web
accessdate=2007-11-04] [cite web
accessdate=2007-11-04] [cite web
title=Their Different Drummer
Influence and recognition
Hailed by "
The Guardian" in 1999 as "probably the most important novelist of the past two decades" in terms of influence,cite news |first=Steven |last=Poole |authorlink=Steven Poole |title=Nearing the nodal |url=http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/sciencefiction/0,6121,98588,00.html |work=Books by genre |publisher= The Guardian|date 1999-10-30|accessdate=2007-11-03 ] Gibson first achieved critical recognition with his debut novel, " Neuromancer". The novel won three major science fiction awards (the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award), an unprecedented achievement described by the " Mail & Guardian" as "the sci-fi writer's version of winning the Goncourt, Booker and Pulitzer prizes in the same year". "Neuromancer" gained unprecedented critical and popular attention outside science fiction, as an "evocation of life in the late 1980s",cite book |last = Fitting |first = Peter |editor = Penley, C. & Ross, A. (eds.) |title = Technoculture|origyear = 1991 |origmonth = July |publisher = University of Minnesota Press
Minneapolis|isbn =0816619301 |oclc =22859126 |pages = 295–315 |chapter = The Lessons of Cyberpunk |quote = [Gibson's work] has attracted an audience from outside, people who read it as a poetic evocation of life in the late eighties rather than as science fiction.] although " The Observer" noted that "it took the "New York Times" 10 years" to mention the novel.
Gibson's work has received international attention from an audience that was not limited to science fiction aficionados as, in the words of Laura Miller, "readers found startlingly prophetic reflections of contemporary life in [its] fantastic and often outright paranoid scenarios."cite book | last = Miller | first = Laura | title = The Salon. Com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors | publisher = Penguin Books | location = New York | year = 2000 | isbn = 9780140280883 | oclc = 43384794 | chapter =Introduction | chapterurl= http://archive.salon.com/books/feature/2000/08/11/guide_intro/index.html] It is often situated by critics within the context of
postindustrialismas, according to academic David Brande, a construction of "a mirror of existing large-scale techno-social relations",cite journal |last = Brande | first = David |year = 1994 |title = The Business of Cyberpunk: Symbolic Economy and Ideology in William Gibson |journal = Configurations | volume = 2 | issue = 3 | pages = 509 – 536 |url= http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/configurations/v002/2.3brande.html | accessdate = 2007-08-27 |doi = 10.1353/con.1994.0040] and as a narrativeversion of postmodern consumer culture.cite online journal | last = Sponsler | first = Claire | year = 1992 | month = Winter | title = Cyberpunk and the Dilemmas of Postmodern Narrative: The Example of William Gibson | journal = Contemporary Literature | volume = 33 | issue = 4 | pages = 625–644 |doi = 10.2307/1208645 | accessdate = 2007-08-27] It is praised by critics for its depictions of late capitalismand its "rewriting of subjectivity, human consciousnessand behaviour made newly problematic by technology." Tatiani Rapatzikou, writing in " The Literary Encyclopedia", identifies Gibson as "one of North America's most highly acclaimed science fiction writers".cite web | last =Rapatzikou | first =Tatiani | title ="William Gibson." | work = The Literary Encyclopedia| publisher =The Literary Dictionary Company | date = 2003-06-17| url =http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5198 | accessdate =2007-08-27]
quote =William Gibson - the man who made us cool.
cite =cyberpunk author Richard K MorganIn his early short fiction, Gibson is credited by Rapatzikou in "The Literary Encyclopedia" with effectively "renovating"
science fiction, a genre at that time considered widely "insignificant", influencing by means of the postmodern aestheticof his writing the development of new perspectives in science fiction studies.cite journal |last=Hollinger |first=Veronica |year=1999 |month=July |title=Contemporary Trends in Science Fiction Criticism, 1980–1999 |journal=Science Fiction Studies |volume=26 |issue=78 |url=http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/78/hollinger78art.htm |accessdate= 2007-11-06 ] In the words of filmmaker Marianne Trench, Gibson's visions "struck sparks in the real world" and "determined the way people thought and talked" to an extent unprecedented in science fiction literature.Trench, Marianne and Peter von Brandenburg, producers. 1992. "Cyberpunk. Mystic Fire Video": Intercon Productions.] The publication of "Neuromancer" (1984) hit a cultural nerve, causing Larry McCafferyto credit Gibson with virtually launching the cyberpunkmovement, as "the one major writer who is original and gifted to make the whole movement seem original and gifted."Ref_label|G|VII|none Aside from their central importance to cyberpunk and steampunkfiction, Gibson's fictional works have been hailed by space historian Dwayne A. Dayas some of the best examples of space-based science fiction (or "solar sci-fi"), and "probably the only ones that rise above mere escapism to be truly thought-provoking". [cite web
title=Miles to go before the Moon
The Space Review
authorlink=Dwayne A. Day] Gibson's early novels were, according to "
The Observer", "seized upon by the emerging slackerand hacker generation as a kind of road map". Through his novels, such terms as " cyberspace", " netsurfing", "ICE", "jacking in", and " neural implants" entered popular usage, as did concepts such as net consciousness, virtual interaction and "the matrix".cite journal |last=Doherty |first=Michael E., Jr. |year=1995 |month=September |title=Marshall McLuhan Meets William Gibson in "Cyberspace" |journal=CMC Magazine |url=http://www.ibiblio.org/cmc/mag/1995/sep/doherty.html |accessdate= 2007-10-28 |quote= |pages=4 ] In "Burning Chrome" (1982), he coined the term " cyberspace",Ref_label|E|V|none referring to the "mass consensual hallucination" of computer networks. [cite book
title= Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction
publisher= Oxford University Press
oclc= 76074298] Through its use in "Neuromancer", the term gained such recognition that it became the "
de facto" term for the World Wide Webduring the 1990s.cite web | url=http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/technoculture/pomosf.html | title=Postmodern Science Fiction and Cyberpunk | first=Martin | last=Irvine | date= 1997-01-12| accessdate=2006-11-23] Artist Dike Blairhas commented that Gibson's "terse descriptive phrases capture the moods which surround technologies, rather than their engineering."“Liquid Science Fiction: Interview with William Gibson by Bernard Joisten and Ken Lum”, "Purple Prose", (Paris), N°9, été, pp.10–16]
Gibson's work has influenced several popular musicians: references to his fiction appear in the music of
Stuart Hamm,Ref_label|B|II|none Billy Idol,Ref_label|C|III|none Warren Zevon,Ref_label|D|IV|none Deltron 3030, Straylight Run(whose name is derived from a sequence in " Neuromancer") [cite web |url=http://www.mtv.com/music/artist/straylight_run/artist.jhtml#bio |title=Straylight Run |accessdate=2007-09-09 |work= MTV.com ] and Sonic Youth. U2's " Zooropa" album was heavily influenced by "Neuromancer",cite journal|title=William Gibson interview |first=J. Stephen|last=Bolhafner| journal= Starlog|issue=200|year=1994|month=March|url=http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Zone/9923/igib2.html|accessdate=2007-11-11|pages=72] and the band at one point planned to scroll the text of "Neuromancer" above them on a concert tour, although this did not end up happening. Members of the band did, however, provide background music for the audiobook version of "Neuromancer" as well as appearing in " No Maps for These Territories", a biographical documentary of Gibson. [cite web|url=http://www.greylodge.org/gpc/?p=119|title=GPod Audio Books: Neuromancer by William Gibson| accessdate=2007-04-09 |publisher=GreyLodge Podcast Publishing company] He returned the favour by writing an article about the band's Vertigo Tourfor "Wired" in August 2005. [Gibson, William. " [http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.08/u2.html U2's City of Blinding Lights] " (2005), "Wired", 13.8] The band Zeromancertake their name from "Neuromancer". [cite web
title=MK Magazine Interviews: Zeromancer
The landmark cyberpunk film "
The Matrix" (1999), drew inspiration for its title, characters and story elements from the Sprawl trilogy. [cite journal |last=Hepfer |first=Karl |year=2001 |title=The Matrix Problem I: The Matrix, Mind and Knowledge |journal=Erfurt Electronic Studies in English |pages= |id= ISSN 1430-6905 |url=http://webdoc.sub.gwdg.de/edoc/ia/eese/artic21/hepfer/3_2001.html |accessdate= 2007-08-27 ] The characters of Neo and Trinity in "The Matrix" are similar to Bobby Newmark (" Count Zero") and Molly (" Johnny Mnemonic", " Neuromancer").cite web |url=http://www.mtv.com/bands/m/movie_house/gibson_loder_030808/index.jhtml |title=The Matrix Preloaded |accessdate=2007-11-07 |work=MTV's Movie House |publisher= Mtv.com|last=Loder |first=Kurt ] Like Turner, protagonist of Gibson's "Count Zero", characters in "The Matrix" download instructions (to fly a helicopter and to "know kung fu", respectively) directly into their heads, and both "Neuromancer" and "The Matrix" feature artificial intelligences which strive to free themselves from human control. Critics have identified marked similarities between "Neuromancer" and the film's cinematographyand tone.cite journal |last=Blackford |first=Russell |year=2004 |month=July |title=Reading the Ruined Cities |journal=Science Fiction Studies |volume=31 |issue=93 |url=http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/review_essays/blackford93.htm |accessdate= 2007-12-02 ] In spite of his initial reticence about seeing the film on its release, Gibson later described it as "arguably the ultimate 'cyberpunk' artifact." In 2008 he received honorary doctorates from Simon Fraser Universityand Coastal Carolina University, [cite web
title='Cyberspace' coiner returns to native SC for honorary degree
accessdate=2008-06-08] and was inducted into the
Science Fiction Hall of Fameby close friend and collaborator Jack Womack. [cite web
title=Inductees Named for 2008 Science Fiction Hall of Fame
publisher=Experience Learning Community
Visionary influence and prescience
quote = The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed.
cite =William Gibson, quoted in "
The Economist", December 4, 2003 [cite news
title = Books of the year 2003
url = http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_NNGVRJV
work = Books & Arts
publisher = "
accessdate = 2007-08-06 ] In "Neuromancer", Gibson first used the term "" to refer to the visualised
Internet, two years after the nascent Internet was formed in the early 1980s from the computer networks of the 1970s. [cite web|author=Postel, J., Network Working Group|month=November | year=1981|url=http://www.isi.edu/in-notes/rfc801.txt|publisher= Information Sciences Instituteof the University of Southern California|title=RFC 801 - NCP/TCP Transition Plan|accessdate=2007-10-31] [cite web|author=Zakon, Robert H|title=Hobbes' Internet Timeline v8.2|url=http://www.zakon.org/robert/internet/timeline/|publisher=Zakon Group LLC|date= 2006-11-01|accessdate=2007-10-31] [cite web|url= http://www.netlingo.com/lookup.cfm?term=matrix |title=Matrix |accessdate=2007-09-09 |work=Netlingo ] Gibson thereby imagined a worldwide communications network years before the origin of the World Wide Web,cite journal
last = Johnston | first = Antony
year = 1999 | month = August
title = William Gibson : All Tomorrow’s Parties : Waiting For The Man
url = http://www.spikemagazine.com/0899williamgibson.php
accessdate = 2007-10-14 ] although related notions had been previously been imagined by others, including science fiction writers.Ref_label|F|VI|noneRef_label|G|VII|none At the time he wrote "Burning Chrome", Gibson "had a hunch that [the Internet] would change things, in the same way that the ubiquity of the
automobilechanged things." In 1995, he identified the advent, evolution and growth of the Internet as "one of the most fascinating and unprecedented human achievements of the century", a new kind of civilization that is – in terms of significance – on a par with the birth of cities,cite interview |last=Gibson |first=William |interviewer=Dan Josefsson |title=I Don't Even Have A Modem |callsign =TV2 |city= Stockholm|date= 1994-11-03|url=http://www.josefsson.net/gibson/ |program=Rapport |accessdate=2007-11-05 ] and in 2000 predicted it would lead to the death of the nation state.
Observers contend that Gibson's influence on the development of the Web reached beyond prediction; he is widely credited with creating an
iconographyfor the information age, long before the embrace of the Internet by the mainstream.cite web |last=Leonard |first=Andrew |year=2001 |month=February |title=Riding shotgun with William Gibson |publisher= Salon.com|url=http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/02/07/gibson_doc/index.html |accessdate= 2007-11-06 ] Gibson introduced, in " Neuromancer", the notion of the " meatpuppet", and is credited with inventing—conceptually rather than participatorally—the phenomenon of virtual sex. [cite news |first=Jayne M. |last=Blanchard |title=Sci-Fi Author Gibson Is `Cyber'-Crowd's Guru |work= St. Paul Pioneer Press|publisher= MediaNews Group|date=September 12, 1993 |accessdate=2008-08-03 |quote=Although author William Gibson came up with the concept of virtual sex, he does not want any parts of it, thank you very much. Not that he's a prude, mind you. Rather, like most things, the reality does not approach the perfection of the fantasy. ] His influence on early pioneers of desktop environment digital arthas been acknowledged,cite web |url=http://www.wired.com/gadgets/mac/news/2002/11/56318 |title=Early Desktop Pic Ahead of Time |accessdate=2008-01-10 |last=Kahney |first=Leander |date= 2002-11-14|work=Wired] and he holds an honorary doctorate from Parsons The New School for Design. [cite web
title= Sci-Fi Writer, High-Tech Marketer on Awards Jury
2008-04-03] Steven Pooleclaims that in writing the Sprawl trilogyGibson laid the "conceptual foundations for the explosive real-world growth of virtual environments in videogames and the Web". In his afterword to the 2000 re-issue of "Neuromancer", fellow author Jack Womacksuggests that Gibson's vision of cyberspace may have inspired the way in which the Internet(and the Web particularly) developed, following the publication of "Neuromancer" in 1984, asking "what if the act of writing it down, in fact, "brought it about"?"cite book | last = Gibson | first = William |coauthors=Jack Womack | title = Neuromancer | publisher = Ace Books | location = New York | year = 2004 | isbn = 9780441012039 |oclc = 55745255 |page=269]
Gibson scholar Tatiani G. Rapatzikou has commented, in "Gothic Motifs in the Fiction of William Gibson", on the origin of the notion of cyberspace:bquote|Gibson's vision, generated by the monopolising appearance of the terminal image and presented in his creation of the cyberspace matrix, came to him when he saw teenagers playing in
video arcades. The physical intensity of their postures, and the realistic interpretation of the terminal spaces projected by these games – as if there were a real space behind the screen – made apparent the manipulation of the real by its own representation.cite book | last = Rapatzikou | first = Tatiani | title = Gothic Motifs in the Fiction of William Gibson | publisher = Rodopi | location = Amsterdam | year = 2004 | isbn = 9789042017610 |oclc = 55807961]
In his Sprawl and Bridge trilogies, Gibson is credited with being one of the few observers to explore the portents of the information age for notions of the sociospatial structuring of cities.cite journal |last=Dear |first=Michael |coauthors=Steven Flusty |year=1998 |month=March |title=Postmodern Urbanism |journal=Annals of the Association of American Geographers |volume=88 |issue=1 |pages=50–72 |doi=10.1111/1467-8306.00084|accessdate= 2007-11-05 ] Not all responses to Gibson's visions have been positive, however;
virtual realitypioneer Mark Pesce, though acknowledging their heavy influence on him and that "no other writer had so eloquently and emotionally effected the direction of the hacker community," [cite web |url=http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/papers/pesce.html |title=Magic Mirror: The Novel as a Software Development Platform |accessdate=2007-12-02 |last=Pesce |first=Mark |date= |work=MIT Communications Forum |publisher= Massachusetts Institute of Technology] dismissed them as "adolescent fantasies of violence and disembodiment".cite web |url=http://archive.salon.com/21st/feature/1998/07/cov_13feature.html |title=3-D epiphany |accessdate=2007-11-06 |last=Pesce |first=Mark |authorlink=Mark Pesce |date= 1998-07-13|publisher= Salon.com] In " Pattern Recognition", the plot revolves around snippets of film footage posted anonymously to various locations on the Internet. Characters in the novel speculate about the filmmaker's identity, motives, methods and inspirations on several websites, anticipating the 2006 Lonelygirl15 internet phenomenon. However, Gibson later disputed the notion that the creators of Lonelygirl15 drew influence from him. [August 14, 2006 edition of the free daily " Metro International", interview by Amy Benfer (amybenfer (at) metro.us)] Another phenomenon anticipated by Gibson is the rise of reality television,cite journal |last=Parker |first=T. Virgil |year=2007 |month=Summer |title=William Gibson: Sci-Fi Icon Becomes Prophet of the Present |journal=College Crier |volume=6 |issue=2 |url=http://www.collegecrier.com/interviews/int-0040.asp |accessdate= 2007-10-14] for example in " Virtual Light", which featured a satirical extrapolated version of COPS. [cite web |url=http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/2003_09_01_archive.asp#106252098607282247 |title=Humility and Prescience |accessdate=2007-11-26 |last=Gibson |first=William |date= 2003-09-03|publisher= Salon.com] epigraph
quote =Visionary writer is OK. Prophet is just not true. One of the things that made me like
Bruce Sterlingimmediately when first I met him, back in 1991. We shook hands and he said "We’ve got a great job ! We got to be charlatans and we’re paid for it. We make this shit up and people believe it."
cite =Gibson in interview with "ActuSf", March 2008.cite interview |last=Gibson |first=William |interviewer=Eric Holstein |cointerviewers=Raoul Abdaloff |title=Interview de William Gibson VO |url=http://www.actusf.com/spip/article-5710.html |format=transcription |program="ActuSF" |city=
Paris|year=2008 |month=March |accessdate=2008-04-06] For his part, Gibson rejects any notion of prophecy, never having had a special relationship with computers – until 1996 he did not have an email address, or even a modem, which he claimed at the time was motivated by a desire to avoid correspondence that would distract him from writing. His first exposure to a websitecame while writing " Idoru" when he was persuaded to let a web developer, Chris Halcrow, build one for him.cite web |url=http://www.salon.com/weekly/gibson961014.html |title=William Gibson Webmaster |accessdate=2007-11-06 |last=Rosenberg |first=Scott |work=The Salon Interview |publisher= Salon.com] An anecdoteoften recited in cybercultural enclaves and English departments holds that "Neuromancer" was written on a manual typewriter;cite book | last = Bukatman | first = Scott | title = Matters of Gravity |chapter=Gibson's Typewriter |publisher = Duke University Press | location = Durham | year = 2003 | isbn = 9780822331193 |oclc = 51058973] the author has confirmed that the novel was written on a 1927 model of an olive-green Hermes portable typewriter, which looked to him as "the kind of thing Hemingway would have used in the field". In 2007 he said:bquote|I have a 2005 PowerBook G4, a gig of memory, wireless router. That's it. I'm anything but an early adopter, generally. In fact, I've never really been very interested in computers themselves. I don't watch them; I watch how people behave around them. That's becoming more difficult to do because everything is "around them".
Count Zero" (1986)
Mona Lisa Overdrive" (1988)
The Difference Engine" (1990; with Bruce Sterling)
Virtual Light" (1993)
# "All Tomorrow's Parties" (1999)
*"Pattern Recognition" (2003)
Spook Country" (2007);Nonfiction
Agrippa (a book of the dead)" (1992) – a nonfiction artist's book;Short stories
Burning Chrome" (1986, preface by Bruce Sterling), collects Gibson's early short fiction, listed by original publication date:
Fragments of a Hologram Rose" (1977, "UnEarth 3")
** "Johnny Mnemonic" (1981, "Omni")
The Gernsback Continuum" (1981, "Universe II")
** "Hinterlands" (1981, "Omni")
New Rose Hotel" (1981, "Omni")
The Belonging Kind", with John Shirley(1981, "Shadows 4")
** "Burning Chrome" (1982, "Omni")
Red Star, Winter Orbit", with Bruce Sterling(1983, "Omni")
The Winter Market" (Nov 1985, "Vancouver")
** "Dogfight", with
Michael Swanwick(1985, "Omni")
Skinner's Room" (Nov 1991, "Omni")
I. Note_label|A|I|none "
The New York Times Magazine" and Gibson himself report his age at the time of his father's death to be six years old, while Gibson scholar Tatiani Rapatzikou claims in " The Literary Encyclopedia" that he was eight years old. II. Note_label|B|II|none Several track names on Hamm's " Kings of Sleep" album ("Black Ice", " Count Zero", "Kings of Sleep") reference Gibson's work.cite album-notes |title=Kings of Sleep |albumlink=Kings of Sleep |bandname= Stuart Hamm|year=1989 |format=CD liner |publisher= Relativity Records|mbid=6afec9b1-2ab7-4768-a6cf-7e721a853e2a ] III. Note_label|C|III|none Idol released an album in 1993 titled "Cyberpunk", which featured a track named "Neuromancer". Robert Christgauexcoriated Idol's treatment of cyberpunk,cite web |url=http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/rock/cyberpun-93.php |title=Virtual Hep |accessdate=2007-11-11 |last=Christgau |first=Robert |authorlink=Robert Christgau |date= 1993-08-10|publisher= Village Voice] and Gibson later stated that Idol had "turned it into something very silly." IV. Note_label|D|IV|none Zevon's 1989 album " Transverse City" was inspired by Gibson's fiction.cite web |url=http://www.flakmag.com/opinion/zevon.html |title=Requiem for a Rock Satirist |accessdate=2007-11-11 |last=Cook |first=Bob |date= 2002-02-10|publisher= Flak Magazine] V. Note_label|E|V|none Gibson later successfully resisted attempts by Autodeskto copyright the word for their abortive foray into virtual reality. VI. Note_label|F|VI|none Both the internet with its dramatic social effects and the cyberpunkgenre itself were also anticipated in John Brunner's 1975 novel " The Shockwave Rider".cite web |url=http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/DV/NotesAntiUtopia.html |title=A 'Future Trace' on Dataveillance: The Anti-Utopian and Cyberpunk Literary Genres |author=Roger Clarke |year=1993 |accessdate=2008-09-17] cite book |title=Edging Into the Future |last=Hollinger |first=Veronica |coauthors=Joan Gordon |year=2002 |publisher=University of Pennsylvania Press |isbn=0812218043 |pages=35 ] VII. Note_label|G|VII|none The idea of a globally interconnected set of computers through which everyone could quickly access data and programs from any site was first described in 1962 in a series of memos on the "Galactic Computer Network" by J.C.R. Lickliderof DARPA. [cite paper
author=Barry M. Leiner,
Vinton G. Cerf, David D. Clark, Robert E. Kahn, Leonard Kleinrock, Daniel C. Lynch, Jon Postel, Larry G. Roberts, Stephen Wolff
title=A Brief History of the Internet
* http://www.WilliamGibsonbooks.com – personal website
** [http://www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/archive.asp Archive index for William Gibson's weblog]
* [http://project.cyberpunk.ru/idb/williamgibson.html Project Cyberpunk's biography and links]
*;Notable fan sites
* [http://www.antonraubenweiss.com/gibson/ William Gibson Aleph] An extensive fan site
* [http://www.zenwerx.com/neuromancer/ Synaptic Response] Formerly neuromancer.ca
NAME = Gibson, William
ALTERNATIVE NAMES = Gibson, William Ford; Gibson, The; Maker, The
SHORT DESCRIPTION =
Speculative fictionauthor, cyberpunkpioneer
DATE OF BIRTH = March 17, 1948
PLACE OF BIRTH = Conway,
DATE OF DEATH =
PLACE OF DEATH =
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.