William Gibson

I just read a good book. It’s a collection of nonfiction articles written by fiction writer William Gibson. The book is “Distrust That Particular Flavor.”

Gibson is one of my favorite living authors. His fiction writing is about the near future and has been pretty good at conjuring up what’s just around the corner. Outside his tribe of admirers, Gibson is best known for coining the term “cyberspace.” Gibson was writing about cyberspace in 1984. Now in 2012, most people understand what you mean if you use the term.

Not known for writing nonfiction, he does a good job with it in articles and reviews collected from the past few decades. In “Distrust That Particular Flavor” Gibson shares his observations on a range of subjects from the attractive strangeness of Tokyo to the unrecognized strangeness of recordings.

For example, before epic storytelling and writing, people were forgotten within a couple of generations. Gibson points out that now, we not only can be aware of the dead but  experience them as well in a way that was until recently not possible. If a singer died and you’d never heard him, well… you never would. But now we have the ability to see and hear artists who’re gone. And we’re so used to it that we’ve forgotten how novel it is in our history. If Elvis had died 200 years ago his performances would be gone with him.

Each article in the book is followed by Gibson’s reflections on his writing and mindset when he wrote the article and what his opinion of the article is today, sort of like seeing “before and after pictures.” That’s interesting and so are the insights he shares in this collection.