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Killer App 

Wednesday, Aug 8 2007
William Gibson's first book, Neuromancer, which won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award, came out 23 years ago. And he wrote it on a manual typewriter. If that doesn't take you back! He coined the term "cyberspace" long before the architects put it together, and he popularized the cyberpunk movement, that gritty blend of detective fiction, noir, and techno-prose that sits in a near-future dystopia. He's also directly responsible for the time Billy Idol started showing up in "cyber clothes" to promote his awesomely stupid 1993 album Cyberpunk, and he shares some of the blame for Johnny Mnemonic, the film based on his short story. To put it mildly, Keanu Reeves reaches something far different than his potential.

Clearly, cyberpunk works best wholly in the hands of its creators — creating narratives about tech is nearly as hard as inventing it. And nobody has surpassed Gibson, whose ninth novel is set, like his last (the well-received Pattern Recognition), in the futuristic world of the here and now. Gibson opens with a writer working on a story about a virtual reality artist for a magazine that doesn't exist, and moves into a shadowy world of government operatives and dark secrets like a jacked-in Don DeLillo. The book teeters with his signature dense, tangled prose, like it's embedded with a linguistic virus designed to upend casual readers. That's not a knock: We read too fast anyway, and his style is entirely suited to his dark, fragmented worlds.

Gibson, who visits San Francisco on the day after Spook Country is released, appears at a Booksmith-sponsored event.

About The Author

Michael Leaverton


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