UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 3 | Mar.
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.