A Evening with William Gibson

William Gibson at UBC

Last Saturday a bunch of us heard William Gibson speak at the Vancouver Institute's Spring 2008 Series lecture: A Evening with William Gibson. Gibson is credited with coining the phrase "cyberspace" and bringing the cyberpunk genre to mainstream attention with his book Neuromancer.

Gibson read three different works he'd written for various reasons. Sadly, he doesn't have the reading voice of a Jack Whyte. Though there were some interesting anecdotes here and there, I found myself drifting off during the reading. Fortunately the question and answer session was considerably more interesting.

Gibson has a droll sense of humour and a depth of perspective. I enjoyed his answers and insights. Unfortunately, there was this weird dynamic where people seemed to expect him to be this profound futurist guru. Though he answered the questions of this bent graciously I got the impression this was a pedestal he didn't want to be on - like he's a story teller looking for an appreciative audience, not a sage looking for a following.

The funniest moment of the evening for me was Gibson commenting on what a contemporary teenager would think when reading Neuromancer: Why don't any of the characters have cell phones?

The biggest surprise of the evening were the accolades Gibson received from the UBC writing program department head (I'm sure that title isn't quite right). I remember when science fiction was the bastard child of genres. A writing professor praising a sci-fi author would be like the oil industry praising scientists for their work on global warming. Times have changed. But then, of all the authors I've read Gibson has the second most "literate" style 1, so perhaps he's just the exception.

Unlike his writing, Gibson's talk didn't fire my imagination, but it was an interesting evening non-the-less.

1: J. R. R. Tolkien has the most "literate" style of all the sci-fi/fantasy authors I've read.


Marina wrote 13 years 41 weeks ago

I take it the audio didn't

I take it the audio didn't turn out?

I've heard Gibson before but I seriously think this time was dryer than usual. That said, I still enjoyed myself - particularly the Q&A.

dale wrote 13 years 41 weeks ago

Sadly, the recording was a

Sadly, the recording was a bust.

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