Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bite-size treats from William Gibson

Distrust That Particular Flavor
by William Gibson

You know William Gibson, if at all, for his late '80s cyberpunk novels. Or maybe you recall hearing somewhere that he coined the term "cyberspace." Or that he predicted the rise of a "consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions" that we now engage every day via the World Wide Web. But if this is all you know of Gibson, you're missing some fine writing. And you don't even need to be a geeky, bleeding-edge technophile to enjoy it.

Gibson's new collection of short nonfiction pieces will appeal no less to the casual reader than to devoted fans. His main influences have always been the classic '50s science fiction he grew up with and the Beat writers he discovered in his teens, and his writing blazes with Beat-like enthusiasm when something kindles his interest. Anything and everything from lectures to magazine articles to introductions to books and art exhibits is gathered here. His well-known fascination with Japan ("They've been living in the future for a very long time now.") has only grown over the years, and his dispatches from the Pacific Rim read like the journal of a bemused explorer just returned from an expedition to the very near future. "Like Disneyland with the Death Penalty," a piece about Singapore, strikingly juxtaposes hilarity and horror. But some of the most interesting pieces in Distrust are the autobiographical ones. Even the bio Gibson wrote for his official website in 2002 is worth reading here again.

The New Year is a time for looking ahead. What better time than now to join William Gibson on a lively Cook's tour of possible futures and futures past.

Click on the title or cover to request the book.

 Review by Don Beistle

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