William Gibson is the author of ten books, including, most recently, the New York Times-bestselling trilogy Zero History, Spook Country and Pattern Recognition. Gibson’s 1984 debut novel, Neuromancer, was the first novel to win the three top science fiction prizes—the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award. Gibson is credited with coining the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome,” and with popularizing the concept of the Internet while it was still largely unknown. He is also a co-author of the novel The Difference Engine, written with Bruce Sterling.
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Few things seem more pathetic than a science fiction writer who pines for the “good old days.” Just a whiff of that sort of crippling nostalgia sets off a red alert in the crackling mind of William Gibson, the novelist who coined the term “cyberspace” and is known for his piercing insights into what the future might look like.
For all of the Internet era, and even before, novelist William Gibson has been the ultimate science fiction guru of the age. He invented the notion – the word – “cyberspace” before the Web even existed. He took us to dystopic futures that became nows in “Neuromancer,” “Burning Chrome,” and “Virtual Light.”
Now, when whole lives – or big pieces – have migrated to the Web and beyond, Gibson is beyond as well. He’s watching the culture from new angles. We speak with Gibson about his latest novel, “Zero History,” and where our world – and his – stand now.
“Warmy blanky” is just one of the magical phrases that the cyberpunk author is obsessed with in this discussion concerning Spook Country.
Subjects Discussed: Coats, blankets, and carapaces in Gibson’s fiction, textures, characters with shaved heads, on not having technological issues, the Apple Store, cell phones and the natural street state, obsolete technology and thrift shops, ZX81s, VR, sitting atop the technological anthill, the internal combustion engine, how to escape being handcuffed with a piece of a ball point pen, the origin of Blue Ant, color taxonomies, Belgians, locative art, rock ‘n roll novels from the 1960s, the downsides of sitting in a SFWA suite, Bobby Chombo, cigarettes, Cory Doctorow, GPS plausibilities, celebrity deaths, Philip K. Dick, Milgram and Dr. Stanley Milgrim, Norman Cohn’s The Pursuit of the Millennium, ghostly connections between Pattern Recognition and Spook Country, tripartite plot structures, writing while not knowing what was in the suitcase, extra-terrestrial artifacts in Baghdad, how to confuse John Clute, the historical record being determined by Wikipedia and Google results, Google Maps and street view, lonelygirl15, YouTube, Japanese behavioral protocols, responding to Ed Park’s theory about the old man and Win being the same character, unreliable narrators, and Iain Sinclair.