Paris Review: William Gibson, The Art of Fiction

Easily the most in-depth interview with William Gibson in years, David Wallace-Wells’s article is a must read.

I also wanted science fiction to be more naturalistic. There had been a poverty of description in much of it. The technology depicted was so slick and clean that it was practically invisible. What would any given SF favorite look like if we could crank up the resolution? As it was then, much of it was like video games before the invention of fractal dirt. I wanted to see dirt in the corners.


Advertising as Art: The ashtray that inspired William Gibson.

The Significant Objects store on eBay, in which everyday trinkets are listed next to short stories, offers an interesting slant on the relationship between art and the market…

No buyer believes that the ashtray featured in William Gibson’s entry truly did come from a friend’s dad in the military, and so readers enjoy the quality that Immanuel Kant ascribed to all aesthetic judgments: disinterestedness. It might sound like an obscure point, but Kant argues that the beautiful must be pleasing on its own account. “One must not be in the least prepossessed in favour of the real existence of the thing,” he writes in the Critique of Judgement (1790) “but must preserve complete indifference in this respect, in order to play the part of judge in matters of taste.” [via Guardian.UK]

William Gibson: Writer’s Block as Default Setting

In preparation for the release of his latest novel Zero History, William Gibson speaks to interviewers and fans re: his writing process:

Gibson said he usually starts writing (a “painful and anxiety-ridden process“) around 10 a.m. every day, eats and drinks whatever’s around, revises his work extensively and is most happy when the writing is finished [Wired].

A “Creator’s block” sounds like something afflicting a divinity, but writer’s block is my default setting. Its opposite is miraculous. The process of learning to write fiction, for me, was one of learning to almost continually be doing it *through* the block, in spite of the block, the block becoming the accustomed place from which to work. Our traditional cultural models of creativity tend to involve the wrong sort of heroism, for me. “It sprang whole and perfect from my brow” as opposed to “I saw it mispelled, in mauve Krylon, on the side of a dumpster, and it haunted me”. I was much encouraged, when I began to write, by Manny Farber’s idea of “termite art” [Boing Boing].

William Gibson Audio on iTunes

Classic William Gibson audiobooks are now available on iTunes [via Eolake Stobblehouse]:

The old William Gibson SF books are finally out as audiobooks on iTunes! I’ve been waiting for this. Strangely, the first one, Neuromancer, seems to be only there in German, but the old favorites Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive are there, as well as the short story collection Burning Chrome.

Can Augmented Reality Help Us Be Greener?

Augmented Reality layers data on physical space to enhance our ability to see richness that is there but often hidden. Applications for marketing, gaming, education and entertainment are obvious. But can AR help us improve the planet as well? [via Mariamz]:

We move faster and faster in our cyber age, all knowing, ever-connected, always-on. Augmented reality beckons: the devices in our pockets become more powerful and our ability to connect digitally everywhere excites and exhilarates whilst pushing the odd few over the edge into internet rehab. Yet something else is happening scarily fast, something only the most obstinate dare deny.

The Future, Eventually, Will Find You Out

Website of Media Destruction has an excellent article on how new media is changing the role of government with reference to William Gibson’s 2003 op-ed for the NYT:

Orwell’s projections come from the era of information broadcasting, and are not applicable to our own. Had Orwell been able to equip Big Brother with all the tools of artificial intelligence, he would still have been writing from an older paradigm, and the result could never have described our situation today, nor suggested where we might be heading.

That our own biggish brothers, in the name of national security, draw from ever wider and increasingly transparent fields of data may disturb us, but this is something that corporations, nongovernmental organizations and individuals do as well, with greater and greater frequency. The collection and management of information, at every level, is exponentially empowered by the global nature of the system itself, a system unfettered by national boundaries or, increasingly, government control.

It is becoming unprecedentedly difficult for anyone, anyone at all, to keep a secret.

In the age of the leak and the blog, of evidence extraction and link discovery, truths will either out or be outed, later if not sooner. This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat, politician and corporate leader: the future, eventually, will find you out. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which you did. (Emphasis mine)