(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Eileen Gunn

“When the past is always with you, it may as well be present; and if it is present, it will be future as well.”*…

It’s been nearly 40 years since Gibson’s seminal Neuromancer was published. As Cory Doctorow notes, Eileen Gunn was a friend of Gibson’s from the earliest days, who while an exec at Microsoft, hosted him – then a penniless aspiring writer – in Seattle and took him to the hacker bars where he eavesdropped on what he calls “the poetics of the technological subculture.” She reflects on Neuromancer‘s impact– its lessons and the questions it raises– then and now…

… William Gibson’s cool, collected language doesn’t make a big deal about this being the future. Your brain glides smoothly past quotidian details that might have been futuristic the first time you read them, but now are just the way the world rolls. The transition to global connectedness and a global economy has been accomplished; cyberspace is here and people all over the world have casual access to it; outer space is an international arena and not just a US/Soviet hegemony. There are Russians here, or, at least, the clunky remains of their materiel, but, presciently, there are no Soviets in Neuromancer...

What is most interesting about Neuromancer is not the caper––although that’s certainly intricate and interesting itself. It’s not simply the suggestion of a compelling future­­––some of which has vanished from the text merely by coming to pass, but much of which is intact and captivating. What is most interesting to me, after forty years and many re-readings, is its meditation on the relationship between personality and memory and humanity, on originality and creativity, on what makes people real…

Gibson himself has said that, in creating a future that didn’t end in a global nuclear disaster, he thought he was creating an optimistic future. In the 1980s, reading Neuromancer’s grim future somehow alleviated, for me at least, the fear that the unknown future would be unsurvivable. It made today a familiar place. Our fears are different now, but Gibson’s books continue to serve that purpose….

I urge you to read and re-read not only Neuromancer, but Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, the subsequent books in the Sprawl trilogy. As Gibson continued to explore this alternate future, he continued to extend his mastery of craft and content. In the two following books, his larger vision of what he was writing about becomes evident, as I think it did to him as he wrote them. The Gibsonian world and the Gibsonian universe are larger and more diverse than Neuromancer, larger even than this entire trilogy. They contain multitudes. If you don’t already know them, I hope you will check them all out. His peculiar dystopian optimism, that humans will somehow elude complete obliteration, has grown larger over the years, and we need it more than ever…

Amen. “William Gibson’s Neuromancer: Does the Edge Still Bleed?,” from @eileen_gunn via @doctorow.

* William Gibson, Neuromancer

###

As we find our ways forward, we might send ruminative birthday greetings to a master of a different genre, Georges Joseph Christian Simenon; he was born on this date in 1903.  A prolific author (who published nearly 500 novels and numerous short works), he is best known as the creator of the fictional detective Jules Maigret.  His work is featured in the collection La Pléiade (inspiration for the Library of America), and in 1966 he was awarded the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honor, the Grand Master Award.

Georges_Simenon_(1963)_without_hat_by_Erling_Mandelmann

source

%d bloggers like this: