Note — Jan 12, 2020

How William Gibson Keeps His Science Fiction Real

This interview with William Gibson has already been very widely circulated and is almost a month old but it was by far my favorite read over the holidays so it has to be in here. It’s a great piece to discover Gibson, or to learn more about his life and career, but I picked the quotes below with an eye to observing the world, forecasting, and some things to ponder around collage and curation.

Some speculative writers are architects: they build orderly worlds. But Gibson has a collagist’s mind. He has depicted himself as “burrowing from surface to previously unconnected surface.” His language connects contemporary jargon, with its tactical-technological inflections, to modern states of anxiety and desire. […]

Often, at the center of the story, there’s a Gibson-like figure—an orphaned collagist of actual or digital bits. […]

Checking his Vancouver bank balance from an A.T.M. in Los Angeles struck him suddenly as spooky. It didn’t matter where you were in the landscape; you were in the same place in the datascape. It was as though cyberspace were turning inside out, or “everting”—consuming the world that had once surrounded it. […]

A physical object was also a search term: an espresso wasn’t just an espresso; it was also Web pages about crema, fair trade, roasting techniques, varieties of beans. […]

For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient “now” to stand on. We have no futures because our present is too volatile. . . . We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition.