Zero History: At the intersection of the author’s subconscious and the reader’s response

William Gibson on Zero History [from his blog]:

If Pattern Recognition was about the immediate psychic aftermath of 9-11, and Spook Country about the deep end of the Bush administration and the invasion of Iraq, I could say that Zero History is about the global financial crisis as some sort of nodal event, but that must be true of any 2010 novel with ambitions on the 2010 zeitgeist. But all three of these novels are also about that dawning recognition that the future, be it capital-T Tomorrow or just tomorrow, Friday, just means more stuff, however peculiar and unexpected. A new quotidian. Somebody’s future, somebody else’s past.

Simply in terms of ingredients, it’s about recent trends in the evolution of the psychology of luxury goods, crooked former Special Forces officers, corrupt military contractors, the wonderfully bizarre symbiotic relationship between designers of high-end snowboarding gear and manufacturers of military clothing, and the increasingly virtual nature of the global market.

I called it Zero History because one of the characters has had a missing decade, during which he paid no taxes and had no credit cards. He meets a federal agent, who tells him that that combination indicates to her that he hasn’t been up to much good, the past ten years. But that quotidian now finds him. Events find him, and he starts to acquire a history. And, one assumes, a credit rating, and the need to pay taxes.

It’s also the first book I’ve written in which anyone gets engaged to be married.

A book exists at the intersection of the author’s subconscious and the reader’s response. An author’s career exists in the same way. A writer worries away at a jumble of thoughts, building them into a device that communicates, but the writer doesn’t know what’s been communicated until it’s possible to see it communicated.


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