Swedish version here.
Q: When you write a short story or book you -as well as other science fiction writers- often use contemporary phenomenons and technology and extrapolate what these phenomenons might turn into in a not so distant future.
G: Thats one of the traditional modes of scinese fiction. But it's not the whole story, i do a number of other things simultaneously i like to think of the imaginary technology in my storys as metaphores for what technolony already has done to us -and what we are experiencing today. I like to think about myself as someone who write quite consiously about the present but phrasing it as though it was about an imaginary future.
Q. Other writers in the same field havn't had such an impact on contemporary youthculture and even in some cases the developement of technological applications. Isn't it a bit uncanny when some parts of the techies takes your storys as gospel and try to realize your visions.
G: Yeah it rather odd, one of the strangest things about it for me is that these people look at these books i've written and automatically assumed that i would like to see what i written about manifested. In some cases i've been describing my worst nightmares. (laugh) Y'know the technical communitys ability to read my words as prescriptions for technology never ceases to amaze me, social critizism and irony just seem to have passed these guys completely.
G: So y'know one of the things i really deliberately did in "Virtual light" was to write counter to those expectations, and its was quite interesting to see that the book got quite successful -it didn't seem to be any backlash. With the possible exception of the really technophiliac part of my audience, a small group -true- but intense proportionally.
Q: I had an argument with a friend of mine over Billy Idols album "Cyberpunk" and i told him that the record wasn't but rather music by groups like Skinny Puppy. Then i've heard that you actually have talked to the guy before he made that album so i must ask that you could help us settle the argument.
G: Yeah i talked to him a number of years prevous to the release, but not about making the record but about the possibility that he would be acting in a film i was thinking of making. The "Cyberpunk" album came as a complete surprise to me, and i still consider it a strange career move on his part.
Q: You was co-authoring a book in which there was one of these science fiction extrapolations about what things might have turned out be like if a small thing in history have turned out slightly different that it actually did. I referrering to mr Charles Babbage (a man who was about one hundred years ahead oh his time) who tried to create computers out of mechanical components. I guess you had to do extensive research to be able to write that book.
G: Yes, usually i dont have to bother with so much reseach but "The difference engine" was a completely different thing. The story is about an alternate reality where Babbage creates his machine in the 1850's. Fortunately we had access to the university of Texas library, an amazing collection of Victorian material on microfilm.
Q: Do you know that this book puts you in the same league as mr Winston Churchill?
(Gibson looks embarrased first) Then says: When you mention i do remember something about it. "What if general Grant not had won the battle of Gettysburg." Yeah some persons call that type of book an recursive novel. It's a really classic form of science fiction, and it's incredibly rigorous because you cannot do it before you really know what the real history was like. And the more comprehensive and detailed your knowledge of the real events is, the more *convinsing* will be so it's enormously labour intensive.
Q: This make me think of another writer mr Philip K. Dick who wrote a story "The man in the high castle" about what history might have turned out to be if the Axis had won WW2.
G: I read the story years ago, mr Dick was never any big personal favourite of mine, and i suspect that i got what most get from Philip K. Dick is that distilled paranoia that is found in most in his writing. Dick wrote i dont know how many books and short storys that evolved along the same storyline, and they give me the impression that they are sections of the same log. And he write these things endlessly and never quite got it into one masterpiece.
Q: I've noted one similarity between the descriptions in your books in details such as the multitude of subcultures and similar descriptions in the works of Samuel R. Delaney.
G: Delaney is someone who really has had much of an influence on me. He was one of my favourite authors when i was younger, and when i started to write science fiction certain periods of Delaneys work definitely served as models or you might say standards of excellense for me. He was one of a small number of SF writers i had the utmost respect for, he is an extraordinary stylist. His attitude is remarkable perhaps because he is one of the very few black american science fictions writers with a radical politic view. I'm really fond of him, i actually got around to know him a bit during in the last couple of years. We was invited as speakers to a filmseminar together at the Kunsthalle in Berlin a couple of years ago. I don't know why they chose us! But it was a really cool experience to be jetlagged in Berlin together with Samuel R. Delaney, a subplot in Virtual light came out of that experience since we discussed the research on the AIDS virus at that time.
Q: So what about William Burroughs, i've seen several references to this guy in connection with your books but have to admit that i've only seen the film "Naked Lunch" but it was one who struck me as rather cyberpunk in style.
G: Oh yes, Burroughs had a huge influence on me. I encountered a reference to Burroughs in a literary magazine and read one book at the age of thirteen, it completely blew my mind when i read his stuff. His writing had somewhat to do whith science fiction but it was something else again. After that i decided to read everything of and about Burroughs that i could get my hands on. And i really think he's one of the greatest writers in our language, in this century at least. I met him finally and had dinner with him a couple of years back and we really had a great time together, he really was a funny guy, i really didn't expect him to have that kind of personality.
You'r the guy to find this page.
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