A Conversation with William Gibson
William Gibson will be coming to Kepler's on Friday, September 10th, at 7:00 PM.
William Gibson has been called "one of the most visionary, original, and quietly influential writers currently working." (The Boston Globe)
This fall he returns with his first new novel since Spook Country. Gibson's work is thrilling and perceptive, anchored by fascinating characters and versions of our world created with such fine and prescient detail that they will change the way you imagine the future. With shadowy corporations, arms deals, mysterious allies, and equally mysterious enemies, all combined in an intricate and provocative story, Zero History promises to be another stunning adventure taken in Gibson's company.
Q. Zero History shares some elements with your two previous novels. Can you describe the new book and how it connects to your earlier work?
A. I'm sure no one believes me, but I don't plan these things as sets of three, and certainly not as "trilogies." They emerge laterally, out of one another, in some way that I actively avoid trying to understand. Zero History seems to be more of a literal sequel to Pattern Recognition and Spook Country than All Tomorrow's Parties was to the two previous books, and again I don't know why. If Pattern Recognition was about the world after 9-11, and Spook Country about the deep end of the war in Iraq, Zero History is about the world after global financial meltdown. Though really it's about "business as usual" after all three of those things, and about how not usual that really is.
Q. What do you strive for when you're working on a new book? What would be the ideal reaction that you could evoke from your audience?
A. Like the fiddle-maker who said that he started with a block of wood and removed everything that wasn't the fiddle, I try to remove everything that isn't that particular book. Though to start with, I have to generate my block of wood. Which is an ugly process, best done in private. There are optimal readers for each writer, and I write for my imagined optimal readers. I write for someone who's going to get it. Perhaps for someone who gets it more thoroughly than I do myself. Which does happen, because sometimes I meet them.
Q. How does science fiction (or fiction in general) enable us to explore the world and time that we live in?
A. Given the nature of the world today, any attempt at literary naturalism, in a present-day scenario, involves a constantly emergent body of what previously were science fiction scenarios (global warming, the Internet, new media, new medical technology...). The tool-kit of science fiction allows for the disassembly and examination of this often bewildering present.
Q. Your work is loaded with intense and vivid images of our world, in both familiar and unfamiliar incarnations. What inspires you to create such solidly imagined vessels for your stories?
A. I've always loved fiction that's been thoroughly and creatively visualized, which is not the same as creating concept or plot. Fiction that doesn't do that usually doesn't engage me. Not that I need it laden with description. It can be quite spare; but the work has to have been done, the visual ground gone over. As a writer, I can't believe in fiction that I'm writing unless I can visualize it to a greater degree than I would necessarily want to share with the reader.
Q. How can stories change the world?
A. I think that "the world" consists, in some rather literal if mysterious way, of stories. New stories, new world.
William Gibson lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with his wife. He is the author of nine previous novels, including the critically acclaimed and bestselling Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition. Visit him online at williamgibsonbooks.com.