This week the castaway on Desert Island Discs is William Gibson. Long before the existence of the Internet, he wrote about ‘cyberspace’, a boundless world reached only through computers. External space travel, to the Moon and Mars, had become old hat. By creating internal space, he breathed new life into science fiction. In conversation with Sue Lawley, he talks about his life and work and chooses eight records to take to the mythical island.
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.
Roy Plomley’s castaway is science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke.
Favourite track: Violin Concerto in B Minor by Edward Elgar
Book: The Golden Treasury by Francis Palgrave
Luxury: Solar-powered transistor radio
From Alice Walker to Chinua Achebe, the world’s greatest authors discuss their best known novel.
Wiliam Gibson discusses his landmark novel Neuromancer with Harriett Gilbert, a studio audience and readers around the world.
Roy Plomley’s castaway is novelist and critic Brian Aldiss.
Favourite track: Sonata In A by Franz Schubert
Book: Rasselas by Dr Samuel Johnson
Luxury: Time machine
Steven Pinker, cognitive psychologist and writer, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs.
"I might be one of the first generation of science fiction writers to come to the writing of it with a head full of academic critical theories…"
The castaway this week is James Burke, whose broadcasting style has been described as "turning science into show-biz". But, paradoxically, he admits to being immensely impractical and reveals to Michael Parkinson, while choosing his eight records to take to the island, that he at one time planned to make music his career.
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.
Actor Martin Sheen, star of TV drama The West Wing and the film Apocalypse Now, joins Kirsty Young to choose his Desert Island discs.