when hiro hit the switch, i was dreaming of paris,
dreaming of wet, dark streets in winter.
the pain came oscillating up from the floor of my skull,
exploding behind my eyes in a wall of blue neon;
- William Gibson
William Gibson is called "the father of Cyberpunk" by some, and is trashed as a poser by others. But one thing is clear. His book Neuromancer (1984), which won the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards that year, was the Christ-child of cyberpunk, whose road to superstardom was paved by the John the Baptist figures of Samuel Delaney, Roger Zelanzy, Philip K. Dick, and James Triptree, Jr. The books that followed in the "Sprawl" trilogy; Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, created the seminal canon of cyberpunk that has inspired both a new generation of cyberpunk authors as well as cheap, stale cyberpunk knock-offs. So whether you are of the opinon that Gibson is a genius or a poser, there is no denying that he changed the direction of Science Fiction in the last decade.
And not only is Gibson a trendsetter in fiction, he has also spoken out on many technological issues that face society today, including the use of the Internet for educational purposes. But on the flip side, he is adamant about abstaining from use of the Internet himself. He has said "I'm not a techie. I don't know how these things work. But I like what they do, and the new human processes that they generate." And in a sense, we are living Gibson's cyberpunk here and now, and it is not hard to imagine that is what our future will be like. He has denied that, however, saying, "People shouldn't look at science fiction like they look at "real" fiction. They shouldn't expect that this is what the future is going to look like. [Science fiction authors] are sort of charlatans; we come up with a few ideas and we make a living off of that."
Copyright © 1996 by Michaela Drapes, Michael Hayden, & Alex Peguero
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Related Gibson Links