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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 3 | Mar. 4, 2004

UBC Alumni: The First Cyberpunk

The first thing to know about William F. Gibson is that he is not a Luddite. Popular journalism has him clacking out his nine novels on cyberspace, ultra modernity and the advent of hyperlife on a manual typewriter. In fact, he wrote his first novel, Neuromancer in 1983 on a manual typewriter because that's what he had at the time. He finally booted up in 1985, and hasn't looked back. He claims to have resisted the Internet initially, but when he discovered that it was such a magnificent way to waste time, he couldn't resist. To prove the point, just visit his Blog at www.williamgibsonbooks.com/blog/blog.asp.
The second thing to know about him is that he graduated from UBC in 1977 with "a desultory degree in English."

Born in South Carolina in 1948, he spent most of his teen years in Virginia and Arizona, and drifted to Canada in the sixties to avoid the draft. As he says, the draft avoided him: he was never called up. But Canada and the Canadian woman he married kept him here. He and wife Deborah have lived in Vancouver since the early 1970s. His novels have had a huge influence on modern science fiction, and some critics cite Neuromancer as the most influential novel of the genre written in the late 20th century.

Gibson remains one of the brightest stars currently writing science fiction. He invented the word "cyberspace," and takes full responsibility for cyberpunk. While only one of his stories has been made into a movie (Johnny Mnemonic, 1995), many of the ideas he presents in his novels have shown up in movies because, as he says, it's easy to use the ideas without having to buy the film rights from him.

His current book, Pattern Recognition, is science fiction set in current time, about a woman who can sense cultural trends before they emerge.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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