Some credit William F. Gibson (pictured above) with writing the most clear-cut examples of the Science Fiction genre known as "cyberpunk", as well as coining the term cyberspace.
|Born: ||March 17, 1948 |
Conway, South Carolina
|Occupation(s): ||novelist, short story writer |
|Genre(s): ||Science fiction |
|Literary movement: ||Cyberpunk |
|Website: ||williamgibsonbooks.com |
William Ford Gibson (born March 17, 1948, Conway, South Carolina) is an American-born science fiction author resident in Canada since 1968. He has been called the father of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. He is credited with coining the term "cyberspace". His first novel, Neuromancer, has sold more than 6.5 million copies worldwide since its publication in 1984.
In 1968, Gibson went to Canada "to avoid the Vietnam war draft" (see the 1999 Mark Neale documentary, No Maps for These Territories) in the US. In 1972, he settled in Vancouver, British Columbia and began to write science fiction. He has spent most of his adult life in Canada, and still lives in the Vancouver area. He retains his US citizenship; his wife is Canadian, and his children have dual citizenship. 
His early writings are generally futuristic stories about the influences of cybernetics and cyberspace (computer-simulated reality) technology on the human race. His themes of hi-tech shantytowns, 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 Gibson's friend and fellow author, Bruce Sterling, in Sterling's introduction to the Gibson short story collection, Burning Chrome, as "a one-two combination of high-tech and low-life". In the 1980s, his fiction developed a film noir, bleak feel; short stories appearing in Omni began to develop the themes he eventually expanded into his first novel, Neuromancer. Neuromancer was the first novel to win all three major science fiction awards: the Nebula, the Hugo, and Philip K. Dick Memorial Award.
The novels rounding out his first trilogy - commonly known as the "Sprawl trilogy" - are Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive.
Gibson's second trilogy, the "Bridge trilogy", centers on San Francisco in the near future and evinces Gibson's recurring themes of technological, physical, and spiritual transcendence in an arguably more grounded, matter-of-fact style than his first trilogy. The books in this trilogy are titled Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow's Parties.
After "All Tomorrow's Parties", Gibson has begun to adopt a more realist style of writing, with continuous narratives. His novel Pattern Recognition, set in the present day, entered mainstream bestseller lists for the first time.
A new novel, entitled Spook Country, has been completed by Gibson in October 2006. According to amazon.com it is scheduled to appear on the market on August 7, 2007. It is unclear whether this novel will be a sequel to Pattern Recognition or an independent work.
In 1992, Gibson wrote Agrippa (A Book of the Dead), an electronic poem. It was about the ethereal nature of memories (the title refers to a photo album), for an artist's book collaboration with painter Dennis Ashbaugh and publisher Kevin Begos. The book included a self-erasing floppy disk intended to display the text only once, then "eat itself" after being read (Gibson quote from his weblog). The poem has since found its way onto the Internet. He commenced writing a weblog in early 2003, which remains active, with one major hiatus, into 2006 (during the process of writing the follow-up to 'Pattern Recognition', Gibson frequently posted small samples from the novel to the weblog). Gibson also wrote a treatment of Alien³, few elements of which found their way into the film.
Two of his short stories have been turned into movies: 1995's Johnny Mnemonic, starring Keanu Reeves, and 1998's New Rose Hotel, starring Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, and Asia Argento. Gibson, together with his friend Tom Maddox, wrote the X-Files episodes "Kill Switch" and "First Person Shooter." Gibson also made a cameo appearance in the miniseries Wild Palms. Gibson's article on fellow cyberpunk and occasional collaborator John Shirley can be read here.
In 1997, Gibson collaborated with critically acclaimed Vancouver-based contemporary dance company Holy Body Tattoo. He provided text that was integrated into their performance.
Gibson was the focus of a 1999 documentary by Mark Neale called No Maps for These Territories, featuring Bono and The Edge reading excerpts from Neuromancer.
Despite all this, Gibson never had a special relationship with computers. His watershed "Neuromancer" was in fact written on a manual typewriter (he eventually moved up to a Macintosh SE/30.)
Gibson's work has influenced several popular musicians; references to his stories appear in the music of Stuart Hamm, Billy Idol, Warren Zevon, Straylight Run and Sonic Youth. U2 at one point planned to scroll the text of "Neuromancer" above them on a concert tour, but ended up not doing it. Members of the band did, however, provide background music for the audiobook version of "Neuromancer".
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
- I suspect I have spent just about exactly as much time actually writing as the average person my age has spent watching television, and that, as much as anything, may be the real secret here. -- excerpt from short autobiography on Gibson's website, williamgibsonbooks.com
- Emergent technology is, by its very nature, out of control, and leads to unpredictable outcomes. -- from a talk given at the Directors Guild of America's Digital Day, Los Angeles, May 17, 2003.
- ...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. --from an interview on CNN, August 26, 1997.
- ...the street finds its own uses for things. -- from "Burning Chrome"
- Writing a novel for me...the part of the text where you're moving forward into nothingness, it feels like being one of those transatlantic tunneling machines...grinding away at a dank dark rock face. -- from a radio interview with This Week in Science originally recorded on February 03, 2004.
- "The Matrix is arguably the ultimate “cyberpunk” artifact." -- Taken from the
The Sprawl trilogy
, Count Zero
and Mona Lisa Overdrive
- Neuromancer (1984) (part 1 of the Sprawl Trilogy)
- Count Zero (1986) (part 2 of the Sprawl Trilogy)
- Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) (part 3 of the Sprawl Trilogy)
- The Difference Engine (1990) (with Bruce Sterling)
- Virtual Light (1993) (part 1 of the Bridge Trilogy)
- Idoru (1996) (part 2 of the Bridge Trilogy)
- All Tomorrow's Parties (1999) (part 3 of the Bridge Trilogy)
- Pattern Recognition (2003)
- Spook Country (2007)
- Burning Chrome (1986), which includes:
- "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" (1985)
Uncollected short fiction
- "Doing Television" (1990)
- "Skinner's Room" (1990)
- "Cyber-Claus" (1991)
- "Thirteen Views of a Cardboard City" (1997)
- "Hippy Hat Brain Parasite"
- Disneyland With The Death Penalty (1993), Wired Magazine, 1.04
- My Obsession (1999), Wired Magazine, 7.01
- William Gibson's Filmless Festival (1999), Wired Magazine, 7.10
- My Own Private Tokyo (2001), Wired Magazine, 9.09
- God's Little Toys (2005), Wired Magazine, 13.7
- U2's City of Blinding Lights (2005), Wired Magazine, 13.8
Miscellaneous other work
In 1990 Gibson wrote an article about a decaying San Francisco, its Bay Bridge closed and taken over by the homeless (featured in Virtual Light) as part of a collaboration with the architects Ming Fung and Craig Hodgetts; this article became part of an exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
- Agrippa (A Book of the Dead) (1992)—an artist's book.
- Introduction to The Art of the X-Files (1998)
- Two episodes of The X-Files
- ^ William Gibson interview by J. Stephen Bolhafner, Published in Starlog issue #200, March 1994, page 72
- ^ Paul Goldberger, "In San Francisco, a Good Idea Falls With a Thud Article," New York Times, August 12, 1990.
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