William Gibson w Ken Goldberg, at JCCSF

Back in 2012 William Gibson sat down to chat with Ken Goldberg, craigslist Distinguished Professor of New Media, UC Berkeley.

I recently watched and Tweeted these quotes;


Also, love how he explains why his last three (at his time) novels “are science-fiction”?

They are set in “speculative novels of very recent past…they are…made out of the stuff of science fiction…picture’s of our world made out of the stuff of science fiction“…

Back in August, Business Insider published a fairly extensive interview with him.

Regarding: Neuromancer, postmodernism and cyberpunk

Fredric Jameson (of Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism fame) looks “closely at the notion of cyberspace in Gibson, in order to see what it involves” and argues The new postmodern abstraction is the abstraction of information as such: the way in which the seemingly concrete visual image is already abstract by virtue of its transmission in advertising; it is a visual cliché and no longer merely a conceptual or verbal one. And it is precisely this new kind of abstraction which it was the unique vocation of cyberpunk to convey in literary form.

Further; “Gibson’s cyber-space is an abstraction to the second power. The initial metaphor of a city for an information network is a first-level abstraction; then the representation of that city by the abstractions of the architects raises it to a second power. In cyberpunk this second-level abstraction is to be read by being navigated, and the camera eye of the novel moves through them, as we have seen, following their openings and canyons, skirting their barriers, moving ever deeper into the nonexistent space of these new systems

Read the rest of the essay at Public Books

Virus 23 : William Gibson and Tom Maddox – Interview

Darren Wershler-Henry and Bruce Fletcher met Gibson and Maddox in Edmonton, where they were guest writers at ConText 89. The starting place was the Summer 1989 issue of the Whole Earth Review, “Is the Body Obsolete?” and the participants went on to discuss a wide range of oddities–gomi–that Gibson is so fond of.

Asking Bill if this thesis about women’s bodies is true to his work is asking him to be the interpreter of his own text, in which case he’s just another interpreter. Now if you what he meant by something, well, that’s legit, but he can’t validate or invalidate a particular interpretation, and in fact, to ask him to validate or invalidate a particular interpretation is like asking him to betray the possibilities of his own work. Umberto Eco wrote a book called A Postscript to The Name of the Rose, in which he said that in writing his postscript he was betraying the novel. He said, if I wanted to write an interpretation, I wouldn’t have written a novel , which is a machine for generating interpretation….TM: Nobody who ever writes a book thinks about this shit…But in science fiction itself, which is enormously conservative in these matters, his stuff generates a lot of resentment because they don’t want to know, and they don’t want to experience what the late twentieth century is like, they want to experience what some fifties version of the future is like. Most of the stuff he thinks about, in terms of structure and all that, the visual artist immediately gets, bang bang bang. Whereas people who do straightforward literary criticism wheel out these creaky old novelistic categories that don’t apply worth a fuck.

Original source: Virus 23 #0 [Fall 1989, 28-36] via Ian Kaplan here

Mr. Cyberpunk

William Gibson was interviewed for the Paris Review’s Summer 2011 edition, by David Wallace Wells. The piece opens with David explaining that while in person and in recent work Gibson might speak/write elegiacally of the term/idea cyberspace he is unhappily haunted by his coining of the term cyberpunk.

Also discussed: how J. G. Ballard was the leader of post-war British New Wave science fiction and the inherent sci-fi of Burroughs Naked Lunch.

What the heck is that? I could tell that there was science fiction, somehow, in Naked Lunch. Burroughs had cut up a lot of pulp-noir detective fiction, and he got part of his tonality from science fiction of the forties and the fifties.”

Gibson outlines how he came up with the title for Neuromancer which he calls a “sticky neologism“, and there is a passage on the importance, aesthetically of a Springsteen(ean?) kind of punk, to his work.

 I found the answer not so much in punk rock as in Bruce Springsteen, in particular Darkness on the Edge of Town, which was the album Springsteen wrote as a response to punk—a very noir, very American, very literary album. And I thought, What if the protagonist of Darkness on the Edge of Town was a computer hacker?

Or the dystopian nature of his future Sprawl the BostonAtlanta megalopolis of post 1981 America and the influence of Borges’s Alephand  Joseph Cornell.

Finally, Gibson relays a wonderful anecdote he credits to a friend, in order to describe his ability for “pattern recognition“.

A friend knew a woman who was having old-fashioned electroshock therapy for depression. He’d pick her up at the clinic after the session and drive her not home but to a fish market. He’d lead her to the ice tables where the day’s catch was spread out, and he’d just stand there with her, and she’d look at the ice tables for a really long time with a blank, searching expression. Finally, she’d turn to him and say, “Wow, they’re fish, aren’t they!” After electro­shock, she had this experience of unutterable, indescribable wonderment at seeing these things completely removed from all context of memory, and gradually her brain would come back together and say, Damn, they’re fish. That’s kind of what I do.

but is this Future Fatigue?

Noting these two pieces of more or less simultaneous news, I also noted that my imagination, which grew up on countless popular imaginings of exactly this sort of thing, could produce nothing better in response than a tabloid headline: SYNTHETIC BACTERIA IN QUANTUM FREE-SPACE TELEPORTATION SHOCKER. .

Alvin Toffler warned us about Future Shock, but is this Future Fatigue? For the past decade or so, the only critics of science fiction I pay any attention to, all three of them, have been slyly declaring that the Future is over. I wouldn’t blame anyone for assuming that this is akin to the declaration that history was over, and just as silly. But really I think they’re talking about the capital-F Future, which in my lifetime has been a cult, if not a religion. People my age are products of the culture of the capital-F Future. The younger you are, the less you are a product of that. If you’re fifteen or so, today, I suspect that you inhabit a sort of endless digital Now, a state of atemporality enabled by our increasingly efficient communal prosthetic memory.

More from William Gibson (here)