William Gibson

Sci-fi pioneer William Gibson has described his writing as a sort of mashup of David Bowie and Lou Reed. That’s a nice simple insight into one person’s creative process, bringing an outside voice or aesthetic to an old genre. Outside of his own following, Gibson is most famous for having coined the term cyberspace. But his writing – the stuff I’ve read, anyway – tinkers around with lots of other interesting concepts. Idoru focuses a great deal on media and the nature of celebrity, which Gibson describes in terms of a kind of substance like a varnish or lacquer. I’m not sure that treatment works completely but it’s still a thoughtful take on a perplexing topic.

A good Gibson interview here in the Salon archives. It’s more about the present than the future, which is consistent with another famous Gibson quote: That he doesn’t think of himself as looking at the future so much as he is “squinting at the present” in a particular way.

Good science fiction writers are good sociologists.


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