Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. 8-11

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-13

For help in obtaining documents and completing this project, I thank several individuals at the Tomás Rivera Library at the University of California, Riverside, including Melissa Conway, Sarah Allison, and other staff of the J. Lloyd Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, and Maria Mendoza and other staff of the Interlibrary Loan Department; Cait Coker, Jerri Bradley, and other staff of the Cushing Memorial Library and ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-7

It is easy to envision William Gibson as a typical character from his novels: a streetwise outsider, determined to be his own boss, who takes to writing as an ideal alternative to a steady job because he knows precisely what his marks want and how to handsomely profit by providing it. Certainly, no other science fiction writer of his generation so strongly displays both a dogged commitment to following his own path in storytelling and keen attentiveness to the ...

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Chapter 1. Journey to the Future

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pp. 9-20

William Gibson has never expressed an interest in writing an autobiography; as he reported while introducing Distrust That Particular Flavor, “The idea of direct, unfiltered autobiography made me even more uncomfortable” than a journal (5). But in another sense, Gibson has spent much of his life sporadically writing an autobiography that dribbles out in bits and pieces within articles, reviews, introductions, interviews, and even works of fiction. ...

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Chapter 2. A Dangerous Amateur

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pp. 21-32

The cartoons and writings Gibson contributed to fanzines in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s merit attention for these reasons: they provide valuable data about Gibson’s life, attitudes, and literary apprenticeship; they confirm that he was long and deeply connected to science fiction, as he repeatedly acknowledges; they anticipate themes and techniques that became central to his fiction; and even if many drawings and texts are inconsequential, Gibson’s stature ...

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Chapter 3. Finding His Own Uses for Things

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pp. 33-59

One is tempted to interpret Gibson’s early stories as an extended process of discovering and experimenting with elements that became central to his novels. His first official story, “Fragments of a Hologram Rose” (1977), introduces the theme of virtual reality—here, “Apparent Sensory Perception” or ASP, a system for vicariously experiencing other people’s recorded activities— as well as an interest in the brief, easily shattered relationships of rootless drifters. ...

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Chapter 4. Legends of the Sprawl

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pp. 60-85

Since numerous scholars have analyzed Neuromancer at length, anyone discussing the novel faces the daunting task of Making It New. To achieve that goal, one might momentarily ignore the after-the-fact commentaries on the novel and envision Neuromancer as Gibson first saw it: an enormous challenge undertaken solely due to Terry Carr’s substantial advance, a piece of writing much longer than his previous stories, and a task he did not feel ready for (as ...

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Chapter 5. Different Engines

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pp. 86-111

Since he “didn’t want to do a Cyberspace volume 4,” as he told Kev McVeigh in 1991 (7), Gibson temporarily resolved to rely upon others to provide him with a sense of direction: he agreed to collaborate with Bruce Sterling on a novel, The Difference Engine, undoubtedly inspired more by Sterling’s interests than his own; worked on screenplays for major Hollywood studios; wrote a few poems and two song ...

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Chapter 6. A Bridge to the Present

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pp. 112-134

By writing Virtual Light, Gibson confirmed what he had already signaled: a desire to break with the past and move in new directions. He pointedly declined in 1987 to write a chapter for a Science Fiction Writers of America handbook on “Writing Cyberpunk SF,” as noted by David Langford (Ansible No. 50), and turned down, as he told Mark Shainblum and Matthew Friedman in a 1993 interview published in 2006, a large amount of money to sanction a ...

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Chapter 7. All Today's Parties

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pp. 135-161

Gibson had planned Pattern Recognition for a long time: in 1986, he predicted to Mikel Gilmore that he would “eventually try something else,” and “in twenty years” he would probably be “writing about human relationships” (108). After telling Robert K. J. Killheffer in 1993 that he strived in Virtual Light to “use as much real stuff—existing today—as possible,” he concluded, “Maybe the challenge for me is to write a William Gibson novel that does all the things ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 162-166

Entering his sixty-fifth year, Gibson will likely remain an active writer for at least another decade or two, and he has already produced enough nonfiction in the forms of articles, reviews, and introductions to fill two additional volumes like Distrust That Particular Flavor. If he chose, he could also publish slender volumes of uncollected stories and poems and a compilation of unpublished screenplays. But his most significant future works will surely be novels; in ...

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An Interview with William Gibson

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pp. 167-174

On February 22 and July 24, 2012, William Gibson kindly responded to various questions in five email messages. With Gibson’s permission, I have edited the questions and his answers into the format of a single interview. ...

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A William Gibson Bibliography

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pp. 175-194

This bibliography attempts to list all Gibson publications, including film and television appearances but excluding video and podcast interviews. Works are listed in these categories: novels; film and television scripts; edited works; short fiction; collections (excluding foreign compilations); articles; forewords, introductions, and afterwords; reviews; poems and song lyrics; artwork; letters; interviews; film and television appearances; and adaptations of Gibson’s ...

Bibliography of Secondary Sources

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pp. 195-202

Index

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pp. 203-210

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About the Author, Production Notes

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pp. 224-225

Gary Westfahl is an adjunct professor teaching in the Writing Program at the University of La Verne. His many publications on science fiction include the three-volume Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy and the Hugo Award–nominated ...