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Cyberpunk Soothsayer 

Wednesday, Aug 22 2012
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William Gibson is not the first science fiction author to be given the hyperbolic label of prophet -- writing in the mid-1800s, Jules Verne foretold the coming of electric submarines, news broadcasts, solar sails, lunar modules, and video conferencing, which he charmingly called “phonotelephote.” But, for the 13th generation, Gibson was both prescient cartographer -- introducing “the matrix,” net consciousness, and virtual sex -- and lexicographer. Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy gave us a new vocabulary (cyberspace, surfing, jacking in, neural implant); his steampunk Bridge trilogy gave us a dystopic view of late-era capitalism (resulting in village settlements on the Bay Bridge); and his Blue Ant trilogy gave Gibson his first spot on the mainstream bestseller list. Along the way, Gibson has been hired to provide perspective on subjects ranging from the draconian drug-trafficking laws of Singapore to poet Jorge Luis Borges. While Gibson is a stridently reluctant essayist, it’s easy to see from the recently published collection, Distrust That Particular Flavor, why magazines have been so eager for his voice -- he is a keen observer who marvels. And why he accepts. Many of these assignments have inspired stories, which proves speculative fiction is about extrapolation, not soothsaying. As Gibson said in a 2003 interview for The Economist, “The future is already here -- it’s just not evenly distributed.”
Tue., Sept. 4, 2012

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