Monday, January 2, 2012

William Gibson: Writer, Dreamer, Fortune Teller For All Humanity

As a futurist, William Gibson is decidedly a pessimist, or at least he seems that way when you read a few of his dark works of fiction.
Gibson is perhaps most well known for the word "cyberspace" which he introduced in a short story, "Burning Chrome" which published in 1982, decades before most of us even understood exactly what it was. In his novel "Neuromancer" which he published two years later, he extolled the virtues of a wired world even as he seemed to indicate this meant the end of humanity as we now know it.

Which might not necessarily be a bad thing, I suppose.

What I find most interesting about Gibson is the way he innovates as he writes. He doesn't take an idea and make it new, he creates new ideas and make them seem, real, expected, perfectly acceptable and in fact, inevitable.

This is what has made Gibson so influential. His followers are legion; an entire generation has grown up using his work as their own personal guidebook for the future they are creating. Even now his books are being dissected, broken down into their individual parts in order what else he predicted that could now be made real.

Gibson has an eye for the future and the for the way humans will react to that future. He predicts the rise of technology and the decline of humanity. In its place, he tells us, is a new reality no more strange to those who will inhabit it than our so-called modern world would be to the people of the last century.

As a writer Gibson is a work-a-holic, having published 11 novels and more than a dozen short stories, some under a duress of his own making. Gibson has said on more than one occasion that his fame as a writer was purely an accident brought on by a desperation to become something he wasn't sure he could be.

At 63, Gibson hardly looks a day over 40 and by the way he continues to re-invent himself, and further extend his credentials as a writer, it seems he is so-far uninterested in slowing down or settling down. Instead I expect Gibson is right now thinking about something most of us know nothing about (or have long since taken for granted) and imagining how this thing will eventually change everything about the world we live in.

In this way Gibson is far and away one of the most influential writers of our, or any, generation.

What do you think of William Gibson?

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