Thursday, June 5, 2008

William Gibson to steampunk enthusiasts: make it look old!

Science fiction author William Gibson did a short reading earlier this week from his latest book, Spook Country. I wasn't particularly impressed with the reading, however the Q&A afterward was quite interesting.

Gibson on:

The popularity of the steampunk esthetic: Some of it is quite interesting and nice to look at, but for goodness sake make those decorative brass attachments on your laptop look old! Carry the things in your pocket along with a bunch of change and screws first. (Gibson and Bruce Sterling co-wrote The Difference Engine, an alternative history novel which popularized the steampunk meme.)

The science fiction genre: Speculative fiction is not really about the future. It is about society as it is at the time the piece is written. Case in point: the novel 1984 is not about the year 1984, it is an illumination of western society and culture in 1948, the year it was written.

Timeliness: He's tending to shorten his speculative timeline with each work. By the time his most recent two books were published (Pattern Recognition, Spook Country) the concepts were no longer futuristic and speculative. They were/are current and real.

Reading: Authors don't usually read their books start to finish once they are turned over for publication. That would just be too weird -- like trying to relive a part of the past.

The Singularity: The technological Singularity theory is essentially the Rapture, repackaged for geek consumption.

The movie Johnny Mnemonic:The movie released for screening was not the movie that written or shot. Sony completely re-edited the movie to make it an action flick after Keanu Reeves became famous as an action hero in Speed. The Johnny Mnemonic movie was originally a farce comedy.

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