Next SFF Author: Craig Laurance Gidney
Previous SFF Author: Gary Gibson

SFF Author: William Gibson

William Gibson (born 1948) is credited with having coined the term “cyberspace” and envisioned the Internet — and its effects on daily life — before any such things existed. Many of his descriptions and metaphors have entered the culture as images of human relationships in the “wired” age. William Gibson is married and has two children.


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Neuromancer: Clones, AIs, and Ninjas

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Originally published in 1984, William Gibson’s debut novel, Neuromancer, has it all: clones, artificial intelligences that manipulate human affairs, and ninjas. In contrast, our burned out hero, Henry Dorset Case, is not very impressive. But he’s trying.

When we meet him, Case is doing his best to hustle a living in Chiba City, Japan. He used to be a hacker, but his employers corrupted his body when they caught him stealing. Now, Case is searching for a miracle cure or perhaps a ticket out of this life.


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Count Zero: Neuromancer’s been busy

Count Zero by William Gibson

They plot with men, my other selves, and men imagine they are gods.

Several years have passed since Molly and Case freed the AI who calls himself Neuromancer. Neuromancer’s been busy and now his plots have widened to involve several people whom we meet in Count Zero:

Turner is a recently reconstructed mercenary who’s been hired by the Hosaka Corporation to extract Christopher Mitchell and his daughter Angie from Mitchell’s job at Maas Biolabs.


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Mona Lisa Overdrive: Stylish, lacks impact of prequels

Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson

In Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third and final novel in William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, it’s been seven years since Angie Mitchell (from Count Zero) was taken out of Maas Biolabs and now she’s a famous simstim star who’s trying to break her designer drug habit. But a jealous Lady 3Jane plans to kidnap Angie and replace her with a cheap prostitute named Mona Lisa who’s addicted to stimulants and happens to look like Angie.


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Burning Chrome: Get to know William Gibson

Burning Chrome by William Gibson

William Gibson is one of those authors whose style is so distinct that it’s immediately recognizable. Anyone who’s read one of his novels could pick up another and, without looking at the cover, probably identify it as Gibson’s merely by reading the first page. His popularity indicates that legions of readers love his neon-infused plastic sheeting-coated visionary style, but as evidenced by reviews of his novels at Amazon and other places, many readers just don’t appreciate William Gibson. They complain about a wooly writing style and vague incomprehensible plots.


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The Difference Engine: Thickly veiled and imperceptible

The Difference Engine by William Gibson & Bruce Sterling

William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, two major SciFi powerhouses, joined forces to produce The Difference Engine, a classic steampunk novel which was nominated for the 1990 British Science Fiction Award, the 1991 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the 1992 John W. Campbell Memorial Award and Prix Aurora Award. I listened to Brilliance Audio’s version which was produced in 2010 and read by the always-wonderful Simon Vance.

The Difference Engine takes place in a nearly unrecognizable Victorian England.


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Virtual Light: Examines the intersection of technology and culture

Virtual Light by William Gibson

William Gibson’s SPRAWL, as seminal a trilogy of books if ever there were in modern science fiction, is a tough act to follow, let alone by the man who wrote the books. But if the series can be considered raw steel, then the follow up has to be considered the bare blade. Honing in on the present, Gibson shows no shortage of the futurological imagination and wordsmithing that made him famous. 1993’s Virtual Light, the first book in the BRIDGE series,


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Idoru: Slick and shiny, but also deep

Idoru by William Gibson

Idoru (1996) is billed as the middle novel in William Gibson’s BRIDGE trilogy (bookended by Virtual Light and All Tomorrow’s Parties) but, though it shares some history and characters with its companions, it can easily stand alone.

Idoru follows the stories of two people who live in Gibson’s post-industrial world. One is Colin Laney (of All Tomorrow’s Parties) who grew up in a Florida orphanage where he was given experimental drugs that changed his brain in such a way that he can now see patterns in huge amounts of data.


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All Tomorrow’s Parties: Fascinating post-post-industrial setting

All Tomorrow’s Parties by William Gibson

When he was a child in an orphanage in Florida, Colin Laney participated in a research study in which he was given a drug that allows him to visualize and extract meaningful information from endless streams of internet data. Laney now has the ability to see nodal points in history — times and places where important changes are occurring. Even though he doesn’t recognize what the change will be, he “sees the shapes from which history emerges.”

Laney is now an adult who’s sick and living in a cardboard box in a Tokyo subway station.


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Pattern Recognition: A mature masterpiece

Pattern Recognition William Gibson

William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition was published in 2003 and it marks the first of what has come to be known as the Bigend trilogy, a series of three novels united by a background character, Hubertus Bigend.

Cayce (pronounced like ‘case’) Pollard is a marketing consultant who is highly sensitive to corporate logos. In fact, it’s almost as though she’s allergic to bad logos. She’s made her living working as a freelance consultant thanks to this sensitivity. Although she’s quite fashionable in her non-designer label clothing,


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Spook Country: Weakest in Gibson’s Bigend trilogy

Spook Country by William Gibson

William Gibson’s Spook Country is set in the same universe as Pattern Recognition, but Hubertus Bigend aside, there is little here that recalls its predecessor. Spook Country is perhaps the weakest entry in Gibson’s Bigend trilogy.

Where Pattern Recognition was told from Cayce Pollard’s point of view, Spook Country is divided between three plotlines that only barely touch each other.


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Zero History: A well-crafted conclusion to the Bigend trilogy

Zero History by William Gibson

It is getting more difficult to classify William Gibson as an SFF writer. Although Gibson’s earliest work stands alongside the best of science fiction and cyberpunk, and The Difference Engine, which he co-wrote with Bruce Sterling, is a well-respected steampunk novel, Gibson’s Bigend trilogy has left cyberpunk, outer space, and human cloning behind.

Instead, Zero History is about jeans.

Gabriel Hounds clothing is unlike any clothing now made by mainstream fashion companies.


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Distrust That Particular Flavor: Gibson’s “Best of” non-fiction album

Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson

Distrust That Particular Flavor is William Gibson’s non-fiction compilation album. These entries, which are arranged neither chronologically nor thematically, touch on a variety of subjects, ranging from Japanese culture to Steely Dan to how recent technologies will evolve.

Gibson begins the work explaining how he learned to write fiction. He further admits that many of his non-fiction works were done primarily because Wired and other publications offered to fly him abroad if he’d comment on his experiences.


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The Peripheral: Here’s how a writer builds worlds

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Reading William Gibson is like learning a new language. At first you struggle. It’s a bit boring, although you can tell that’s just because you don’t understand, that there are exciting things happening under the surface. Then, one day, you’ve learned enough vocabulary and grammar that it starts to click and you can converse.

His latest novel, The Peripheral, which I listened to on audio, read by Lorelei King, follows two interlocking story-lines. One is from the perspective of Flynne,


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Agency: Sounds an alarm

Agency by William Gibson

William Gibson’s latest novel, Agency (2020), is a follow-up to The Peripheral which needs to be read first. In The Peripheral we learned that in the not-too-distant future, someone will discover some software on a secret server in China which allows users to interact with people using the internet in the past (our modern day). Contacting people in the past makes a new timeline branch called a “stub.” The future people who create the stub can play around with it,


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Archangel, Issue One, by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith

 Archangel, Issue One by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith, Illustrated by Butch Guice

I kept my head down as I moved through the crowd. This mission was a total Hail Mary, two agents-in-place improvising because we had to work fast. Fankind risked his cover even talking to HQ, but if the intel was right, if he had what we thought he had… “Archangel, Issue One, by William Gibson,” he had said. “This could change everything.”

Rumors were only rumors,


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The Peripheral: Amazon Original

Amazon has adapted William Gibson’s The Peripheral to a streaming show. To my disappointment, after three episodes, the show is like one of the book’s eponymous creations, an unpiloted peripheral; glossy, elegant, smart even, but lacking any spark of life.

The Peripheral takes place in two different timelines. One is set in 2032 in a world very much like ours, in a small town in the American southeast. The other is set in London in 2100, in a post-Jackpot world (the Jackpot is a convergence of natural and human-caused disasters reaching nearly extinction levels);


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Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology: An examination of what defines the genre

Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology edited by Bruce Sterling

There are a handful of people who have/had their finger on the pulse of cyberpunk. Love him or hate him, Bruce Sterling has perhaps two. In 1986 he decided to pull together a collection of stories he felt were representative of the sub-genre. Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology is both broad in scope yet largely encompasses the idea of what the average sci-fi fan’s expectations are for the form. Though Sterling’s agenda is his own, some stories will be immediately recognizable for their mood and voice,


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The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories: Humane science fiction

The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories edited by Tom Shippey

I read Tom Shippey‘s other excellent collection, The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories some time ago, so it was only a matter of time before I sought out this one. Like its stablemate, The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories consists of a chronological collection of stories from a variety of authors with an introduction by the editor. I was struck by the idea of “fabril” literature, which is discussed in the introduction: a form of literature in which the “smith”


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Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded is the second steampunk anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, following 2008’s first installment. It contains about twice as many stories as its predecessor, but unlike the first collection the quality is more uneven here, resulting in a less impressive but still fascinating anthology that should please fans of the genre.

While the first anthology only contained one story I was less than happy with, there are at least four or five in Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded that I could have done without.


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Why You Should Read… William Gibson

If you’d like to contribute a post to this series, please contact the editor.

Today I am pleased to welcome Tom Hunter, the ever-enthusiastic Award Administrator for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Tom can be found on Twitter as @clarkeaward. It should come as no surprise that his chosen Why You Should Read… subject comes from the world of Science Fiction, one William Gibson.

“Anti-buzz,” he said. “Definition by absence.”

She waited to see if he’d indicate that he was joking.


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Next SFF Author: Craig Laurance Gidney
Previous SFF Author: Gary Gibson

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