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William Gibson

William Gibson(1948- )
William Gibson is credited with having coined the term “cyberspace” and envisioned the Internet — and its effects on daily life — before any such things existed. Many of his descriptions and metaphors have entered the culture as images of human relationships in the “wired” age. William Gibson is married and has two children.

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The Sprawl

The Sprawl — (1984-1988) Publisher: Here is the novel that started it all, launching the cyberpunk generation, and the first novel to win the holy trinity of science fiction: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philip K. Dick Award. With Neuromancer, William Gibson introduced the world to cyberspace — and science fiction has never been the same. Case was the hottest computer cowboy cruising the information superhighway — jacking his consciousness into cyberspace, soaring through tactile lattices of data and logic, rustling encoded secrets for anyone with the money to buy his skills. Then he double-crossed the wrong people, who caught up with him in a big way — and burned the talent out of his brain, micron by micron. Banished from cyberspace, trapped in the meat of his physical body, Case courted death in the high-tech underworld. Until a shadowy conspiracy offered him a second chance — and a cure — for a price….

William Gibson 1. Neuromancer 2. Count Zero 3. Mona Lisa OverdriveWilliam Gibson 1. Neuromancer 2. Count Zero 3. Mona Lisa Overdrivefantasy and science fiction book reviews

Neuromancer: Clones, AIs, and Ninjas

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Neuromancer by William Gibson

Originally published in 1984, William Gibson’s debut novel, Neuromancer, has it all: clones, artificial intelligences that manipulate human affairs, and ninjas. In contrast, our burned out hero, Henry Dorset Case, is not very impressive. But he’s trying.

When we meet him, Case is doing his best to hustle a living in Chiba City, Japan. He used to be a hacker, but his employers corrupted his body when they caught him stealing. Now, Case is searching for a miracle cure or perhaps a ticket out of this life. Enter Molly Millions, a woman whose implants have endowed her with lightning reflexes. And razorblades in her fingers. Molly and her backer set Case up with a series of new organs so that he can ride his console one more time.

Gibson’s writing is often remembered for its influence on cyberpunk a... Read More

Count Zero: Neuromancer’s been busy

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Count Zero by William Gibson

They plot with men, my other selves, and men imagine they are gods.

Several years have passed since Molly and Case freed the AI who calls himself Neuromancer. Neuromancer’s been busy and now his plots have widened to involve several people whom we meet in Count Zero:

Turner is a recently reconstructed mercenary who’s been hired by the Hosaka Corporation to extract Christopher Mitchell and his daughter Angie from Mitchell’s job at Maas Biolabs. Mitchell is the creator of the world’s first biochip, and he’s secretly agreed to move to Hosaka. Extracting an indentured research scientist is a deadly game, but Turner is one of the best.

Bobby “Count Zero” Newmark, who wants to be a console cowboy, has just pulled a Wilson (that means he majorly screwed up) on h... Read More

Mona Lisa Overdrive: Stylish, lacks impact of prequels

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Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

In Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third and final novel in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, it’s been seven years since Angie Mitchell (from Count Zero) was taken out of Maas Biolabs and now she’s a famous simstim star who’s trying to break her designer drug habit. But a jealous Lady 3Jane plans to kidnap Angie and replace her with a cheap prostitute named Mona Lisa who’s addicted to stimulants and happens to look like Angie.

In a dilapidated section of New Jersey, Slick Henry makes large animated robotic sculptures out of scrap metal. He owes Kid Afrika a favor, so now he has to hide the comatose body of Bobby Newmark (aka “Count Zero”). Bobby is jacked into an Aleph where he’s got some secret project going on. A Cleveland g... Read More

Bridge

Bridge — (1993-1999) Publisher: 2005: Welcome to NoCal and SoCal, the uneasy sister-states of what used to be California. Here the millenium has come and gone, leaving in its wake only stunned survivors. In Los Angeles, Berry Rydell is a former armed-response rentacop now working for a bounty hunter. Chevette Washington is a bicycle messenger turned pickpocket who impulsively snatches a pair of innocent-looking sunglasses. But these are no ordinary shades. What you can see through these high-tech specs can make you rich — or get you killed. Now Berry and Chevette are on the run, zeroing in on the digitalized heart of DatAmerica, where pure information is the greatest high. And a mind can be a terrible thing to crash…

SF book reviews WIlliam Gibson 1. Virtual Light 2. Idoru 3. All Tomorrow's Partiesfantasy and science fiction book reviewsfantasy and science fiction book reviews

Virtual Light: Examines the intersection of technology and culture

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Virtual Light by William Gibson

William Gibson’s SPRAWL, as seminal a trilogy of books if ever there were in modern science fiction, is a tough act to follow, let alone by the man who wrote the books. But if the series can be considered raw steel, then the follow up has to be considered the bare blade. Honing in on the present, Gibson shows no shortage of the futurological imagination and wordsmithing that made him famous. 1993’s Virtual Light, the first book in the BRIDGE series, is every bit as genius.

Virtual Light, and the BRIDGE series as a whole, has a lot in common with the SPRAWL series. Gibson continues to paint vignettes of the future and examine the intersection of technology and culture, society, religion, and politics. And the writi... Read More

Idoru: More delicious futurology from Gibson

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Idoru by William Gibson

Idoru, William Gibson’s 1997 middle entry into the BRIDGE trilogy, takes the baton of Virtual Light’s conclusion and runs with it. Celebrity worship, pop culture, media influence, and the futuristic tangents advanced technology offers these take-it-or-leave-it facets of modern existence are the centerpiece. Less standard noir than Virtual Light, Idoru expands the themes into an imaginative, singular story that develops the series positively.

Like Virtual Light, Idoru features a young woman and man as main characters. Chia MacKenzie is a fourteen year old member of the Seattle chapter of the Lo/Rez fan club who has been asked to go to Tokyo to investigate whether the lead singer of the world-famous band will actually marry the virtual pop star Rei Toei... Read More

All Tomorrow’s Parties: Fascinating post-post-industrial setting

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All Tomorrow’s Parties by William Gibson

When he was a child in an orphanage in Florida, Colin Laney participated in a research study in which he was given a drug that allows him to visualize and extract meaningful information from endless streams of internet data. Laney now has the ability to see nodal points in history — times and places where important changes are occurring. Even though he doesn’t recognize what the change will be, he “sees the shapes from which history emerges.”

Laney is now an adult who’s sick and living in a cardboard box in a Tokyo subway station. He’s convinced that something big is about to happen in San Francisco. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen, but he knows it will change the world. Unable to get there himself, Laney hires Rydell, a California rent-a-cop, to investigate.

Rydell is pleased to be leaving his lowly... Read More

Blue Ant (Bigend)

Blue Ant (Bigend) — (2003-2010) Publisher: Cayce Pollard is a new kind of prophet – a world renowned “coolhunter” who predicts the hottest trends. While in London to evaluate the redesign of a famous corporate logo, she’s offered a different assignment: find the creator of the obscure, enigmatic video clips being uploaded on the Internet – footage that is generating massive underground buzz worldwide. Still haunted by the memory of her missing father – a Cold War security guru who disappeared in downtown Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001 – Cayce is soon traveling through parallel universes of marketing, globalization, and terror, heading always for the still point where the three converge. From London to Tokyo to Moscow, she follows the implications of a secret as disturbing – and compelling – as the twenty-first century promises to be …

Pattern Recognition by William GibsonSpook Country by William GibsonZero History by William Gibson

Pattern Recognition: A Mature Masterpiece

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Pattern Recognition William Gibson

William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition was published in 2003 and it marks the first of what has come to be known as the Bigend trilogy, a series of three novels united by a background character, Hubertus Bigend.

Cayce (pronounced like ‘case’) Pollard is a marketing consultant who is highly sensitive to corporate logos. In fact, it’s almost as though she’s allergic to bad logos. She’s made her living working as a freelance consultant thanks to this sensitivity. Although she’s quite fashionable in her non-designer label clothing, Cayce has turned her attention to things other than fashion. Lately, her passion is the “footage,” a topic that she researches using online forums and networks.

The footage is a series of anonymous film clips that have captured the attention of a growing au... Read More

Spook Country: Weakest in Gibson’s Bigend trilogy

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Spook Country by William Gibson

William Gibson’s Spook Country is set in the same universe as Pattern Recognition, but Hubertus Bigend aside, there is little here that recalls its predecessor. Spook Country is perhaps the weakest entry in Gibson’s Bigend trilogy.

Where Pattern Recognition was told from Cayce Pollard’s point of view, Spook Country is divided between three plotlines that only barely touch each other. Hollis Henry, who was once the lead singer of a rock band, is trying to make it as a journalist, and she has been hired by Hubertus Bigend to look into “locative art” technology. Milgrim is an addict and a translator of Russian. Trained in the Russian martial art systema, Tito delivers files to retired spies on be... Read More

Zero History: A well-crafted conclusion to the Bigend trilogy

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Zero History by William Gibson

It is getting more difficult to classify William Gibson as an SFF writer. Although Gibson’s earliest work stands alongside the best of science fiction and cyberpunk, and The Difference Engine, which he co-wrote with Bruce Sterling, is a well-respected steampunk novel, Gibson’s Bigend trilogy has left cyberpunk, outer space, and human cloning behind.

Instead, Zero History is about jeans.

Gabriel Hounds clothing is unlike any clothing now made by mainstream fashion companies. The fabric is of the highest quality, and it is especially well made. What’s more, the design is iconic, yet timeless. These clothes aren’t the height of “fashion.” They’re real.

They’re also impossible to find. What an unusual marketing strategy. Marketing guru and CEO of B... Read More

Archangel, Issue One, by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith

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 Archangel, Issue One by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith, Illustrated by Butch Guice

I kept my head down as I moved through the crowd. This mission was a total Hail Mary, two agents-in-place improvising because we had to work fast. Fankind risked his cover even talking to HQ, but if the intel was right, if he had what we thought he had… “Archangel, Issue One, by William Gibson,” he had said. “This could change everything.”

Rumors were only rumors, of course, but as I pretended an interest in the Cruisin’ The Main Drag Car Parade I couldn’t help, just for a few seconds, but dream. The first original comic co-writte... Read More

Burning Chrome: Get to know William Gibson

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Burning Chrome by William Gibson

William Gibson is one of those authors whose style is so distinct that it’s immediately recognizable. Anyone who’s read one of his novels could pick up another and, without looking at the cover, probably identify it as Gibson’s merely by reading the first page. His popularity indicates that legions of readers love his neon-infused plastic sheeting-coated visionary style, but as evidenced by reviews of his novels at Amazon and other places, many readers just don’t appreciate William Gibson. They complain about a wooly writing style and vague incomprehensible plots. Having been enthralled by Neuromancer and Count Zero, just slightly annoyed by Mona Lisa Overdrive and All Tomorrow’s Parties, and completely frustrated by The Difference Engine Read More

The Difference Engine: Thickly veiled and imperceptible

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The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling

William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, two major SciFi powerhouses, joined forces to produce The Difference Engine, a classic steampunk novel which was nominated for the 1990 British Science Fiction Award, the 1991 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1992 John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Prix Aurora Award. I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version which was produced in 2010 and read by the always-wonderful Simon Vance.

The Difference Engine takes place in a nearly unrecognizable Victorian England. The fundamental “difference” between this alternate history and the real one is that Charles Babbage succeeded in building his Difference Engine — the first analytical computer. Thus, the information age develops (along with the industrial re... Read More

Distrust That Particular Flavor: Gibson’s “Best of” non-fiction album

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Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson

Distrust That Particular Flavor is William Gibson’s non-fiction compilation album. These entries, which are arranged neither chronologically nor thematically, touch on a variety of subjects, ranging from Japanese culture to Steely Dan to how recent technologies will evolve.

Gibson begins the work explaining how he learned to write fiction. He further admits that many of his non-fiction works were done primarily because Wired and other publications offered to fly him abroad if he’d comment on his experiences. Given the introduction, readers might not expect much from Distrust That Particular Flavor, but I often enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed it more than I do most compilations of non... Read More

The Peripheral: Here’s how a writer builds worlds

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The Peripheral by William Gibson

Reading William Gibson is like learning a new language. At first you struggle. It's a bit boring, although you can tell that's just because you don't understand, that there are exciting things happening under the surface. Then, one day, you've learned enough vocabulary and grammar that it starts to click and you can converse.

His latest novel, The Peripheral, which I listened to on audio, read by Lorelei King, follows two interlocking story-lines. One is from the perspective of Flynne, a young woman in a not-too-distant but horribly bleak American future. Her brother Burton, an ex-Marine, gets Flynne a job running security in what she believes is a virtual reality game. While on the job, she witnesses a horrifying murder. Flynne soon realizes that what she saw was not virtual, but actually happened. As the sole witness, she is dr... Read More

Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology: An examination of what defines the genre

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Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Bruce Sterling

There are a handful of people who have/had their finger on the pulse of cyberpunk. Love him or hate him, Bruce Sterling has perhaps two. In 1986 he decided to pull together a collection of stories he felt were representative of the sub-genre. Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology is both broad in scope yet largely encompasses the idea of what the average sci-fi fan's expectations are for the form. Though Sterling’s agenda is his own, some stories will be immediately recognizable for their mood and voice, while others will require more thought toward determining just how they fit into the sub-genre, if at all. The following is a brief introduction to each.

"The Gernsback Continuum" by Read More

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories: Humane science fiction

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The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Shippey

I read Tom Shippey's other excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories some time ago, so it was only a matter of time before I sought out this one. Like its stablemate, The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories consists of a chronological collection of stories from a variety of authors with an introduction by the editor. I was struck by the idea of "fabril" literature, which is discussed in the introduction: a form of literature in which the "smith" is central. Certainly, a great deal of early science fiction in particular involves a clever engineer solving some sort of problem, and I'm sure many careers in engineering and the sciences have been launched in this way. I'd say that there is some tendency, though, as the genre matures, for technology to beco... Read More

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded

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Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded is the second steampunk anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, following 2008’s first installment. It contains about twice as many stories as its predecessor, but unlike the first collection the quality is more uneven here, resulting in a less impressive but still fascinating anthology that should please fans of the genre.

While the first anthology only contained one story I was less than happy with, there are at least four or five in Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded that I could have done without. There are also a few stories here that are at best marginally connected to steampunk, although that probably depends more on how you define steampunk. After all, there are probably as many definitions of steampunk as th... Read More

Why You Should Read… William Gibson

If you'd like to contribute a post to this series, please contact the editor.

Today I am pleased to welcome Tom Hunter, the ever-enthusiastic Award Administrator for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Tom can be found on Twitter as @clarkeaward. It should come as no surprise that his chosen Why You Should Read... subject comes from the world of Science Fiction, one William Gibson.

“Anti-buzz,” he said. “Definition by absence.”

She waited to see if he’d indicate that he was joking. He didn’t. “That’s ridiculous.”

I’ve bought more William Gibson books as gifts for other people than I have those of any other author.

I buy a lot of books as gifts.

A big part of what I do in what I guess we might as well c... Read More