SCIFI.COM Chat Transcript: William Gibson, December 28, 1999

* Icephreak feels The Force. He is among us. * Icephreak: He must be. Gardner: At the magazines, we still read our own slushpiles. * Nothing taps fingers impatiently * Icephreak: Mr. Gibson, send me a pair of shades, brother! Android: I can smelll him. hiroshi: Mr. Gibson, what is your inspiration Icephreak: Get out. Moderator: Gardner? Joblard: My inspiration? I just walk around and things stick to me. It's not a conscious gig, you know? Moderator: 120 wpm? Typing faster than ever? Gardner: Right here, Boss. Gardner: Hi, Bill. Moderator: Joblard AKA Mister Bill can type too! Gardner: Typing with my FEET. Joblard: Hi, gardner. Moderator: Intro time: Moderator: Hi everyone, thanks for joining us! Our guest tonight is William Gibson, the renowned writer and Velvet Underground fan (some may recognize ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES, the title of Gibson's latest novel, as a riff off Lou and John) Bill's earlier books, NEUROMANCER, MONA LISA OVERDRIVE and the short story collection, BURNING CHROME, defined a popular new subgenre in the already compartmentalized world of science fiction and fantasy -- cyberpunk. Moderator: This chat is co-sponsored by Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine which you can find on the web at And the host for tonight's chat is Asimov's own lovely and talented editor, Gardner Dozois! A big round of virtual applause please... Gardner: Don't forget the ASIMOV'S commercial. Moderator: Brief word about the drill -- this IS a moderated chat and that means you will be sending your questions for Mr Bill to me, Moderator, as private messages. Don't know how to send private messages? Just double-click on my name and voila! you're in private message mode. Gardner: The cheers are deafening! Moderator: I ced the floor to you, Mister Dozois... Moderator: cede Moderator: that's what I meant. Gardner: So, Bill, you sitting around waiting for The End Of The World As We Know It? Joblard: I've never actually done one these before. I did by phone, before... Gardner: It's just like phone sex, except with typing. Moderator: And with GARDNER. Joblard: A live chat, I mean. Not worrying about the apoclypse. Porklips. Whatever. Moderator: We have some audience questions... Gardner: I'D worry about Porklips. Joblard: Bring 'em on... Moderator: : good first question: How do we know you're the REAL WmG and not an artificial construct? Gardner: Let him have them! Joblard: You don't. That's the nature of the postmodern, you dig? Simulacra and shit... Gardner: How do you know YOU'RE the real YOU, Clockwork? Moderator: (The Moderator is declaring a moratorium on Keanu Reeves questions, by the way...) Gardner: You might have been replaced by a pod while you weren't looking. Joblard: I don't. I'm sort of a congeries of feedback loops, it often feels like. Moderator: Here's another: Gardner: How do you know he's not Keanu Reaves PRETENDING to be Bill Gibson? Moderator: : To Mr. Gibson: For what reason did it take so long for you to realize the potential of Neuromancer as a movie? Moderator: I'm not gagging. Moderator: That's how I know. Joblard: Uh... Joblard: I wasn't TRYING to take 20 years. It just did. And previous experience made me a bit nervous, yes? Gardner: Writers don't usually have the final word in deciding how and when movies get made... Gardner: What was the previous experience, for those not up to speed? Joblard: Well, no, but I've sort of aspired to that. I can be done. Maybe. Sort of. Moderator: I think you got a private send there. Joblard: Well, JOHNNY M, which I had a lot more to do with than you'd imaginer from the outcome. Moderator: Here's another question: Moderator: : A question for Bill Gibson: since you're a newcomer to the Internet, did that change your vision of what cyberspace "feels" like for your characters? Moderator: Station identification: our guest for tonight's chat (which is cosponsored by Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine --, on a browser near you!) is William Gibson. Please sen your questions for WG to me, Moderator, as private messages. (Double-click on my name to get into private message mode.) Joblard: Yeah. It made it banal, which was a great relief. Not so OOOOH-WAW, you know? Moderator: : Do you feel yourself still influenced by the people and things you were influenced by when you began writing. You'd mentioned william burroughs Joblard: Well, the deep influences are still there but I'm not aware of them. The recent ones can be more problematic. Joblard: I find myself trying to write like Iain Sinclair, for instance. Moderator: Related question: Gardner: Do you feel that your writing has changed since you wrote NEUROMANCER? If so, in what way has it changed? Moderator: : Question: Without a doubt, there's been countless souls that have claimed that the inspiration for their work was you. Out of all those people, is there anyone who impressed you? Moderator: Take Gardner's first! Joblard: First one: well, I lived 20 years in between... I'd hope that would be reflected. I think of NEURO as having been channeled in my late 20s out of my my adolescent self. Gardner: Which self do you feel you're channeling now? Joblard: Second one, um, no, not really. Actually that makes it harder to take them seriously. Jack Womack for instance had never even heard of me, and THAT impressed me. Moderator: : The most pronounced change of style I noticed in your writing, besides the Difference Engine came with Virtual Light - did anything specific prompt that? Joblard: Synaptic breakdown? Joblard: Micro-strokes? Gardner: Visitation by the Holy Spirit? Joblard: Temporal lobe epilepsy? Moderator: Y2K? Joblard: Visitation by Philip K Dick? Moderator: All of the above? Moderator: : Have your ideas been influenced by any computer games or the ideas wherein? Games such as Syndicate Wars and other "cyberpunk" related games? Joblard: YES! Gardner: Was that "Yes" for the gaming question above? Joblard: Er, no. Not really. Bigtime not really. Gardner: Have you ever played such a computer game? Gardner: Especially one influenced by your own work? Moderator: Gauntlet's kind of fun. Except that my 5 year old consistently beats me... Joblard: No, it was no. And no, I never have. Likely never will. Lack the gaming gene. Moderator: : Do you feel that the advent of fame has disrupted what would otherwise be your thought pattern and perception of things? Gardner: You should call the Family Abuse Hotline, Moderator. Moderator: Or Dr. Laura!~ Gardner: That's metaphysics, Drayth. If you had a brother, would he like noodles? Joblard: Well, yes and no. It has but I've remained aware that it has. In a way that's the subtext of the three most recent books... Moderator: : Do you ever think you would be interested in writing for your own series on television (like x-files)...perhaps something on the scifi channel? Joblard: Yeah. I've discussed it at times. It's a truly Godawful job if you really want to maintain control. Chris Carter is superhuman. Moderator: to : another question: what do you think will happen at 00:00:00 1/1/2000? and how far from civilzation do you plan to be? Moderator: Station identification: our guest for tonight's chat (which is cosponsored by Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine --, on a browser near you!) is William Gibson. Please sen your questions for WG to me, Moderator, as private messages. (Double-click on my name to get into private message mode.) Gardner: How far from civilization can you GET might be an even better question. Moderator: In a celler with a can of beans and a candle? Joblard: I'll probably be right here in my basement. I think bugger-all will really happen. Lot of survivalists shooting themselves, maybe. Gardner: My guess is that Y2K is going to be the Fizzle of the Century. Moderator: Yeah, but all the survivalists will be over the border from vancouver -- in Seattle! Moderator: : do you feel the world is starting to reflect some of the darker parts of your novels? Joblard: Agreed, but historically it'll go down as first global recognition of the extent of interconnectivity. Gardner: I wouldn't want to be in Times Square, because it'll be packed full of crazies, and a tempting target for terrorism if there's going to be any. Otherwise, though... Moderator: You still there, Meester Bill? Moderator: Type to us! Joblard: Actually, no. Some parts (former Sovworld, say) very dark, other parts very light. More a mixed bag. Dystopias as inherently fantastic as utopias. Moderator: Survivalists got yr computer? Moderator: : Neuromancer established many of the technical terms we use for computer tech today. What resources did you use to create the technical terms and ideas in Neuromancer? Joblard: I'm a slow typist... Moderator: Just wanted to make sure you hadn't crashed. Joblard: I am...Joblard. Says so right here. Joblard: Is there a siognal to let you know utterance is complete? Gardner: I think Bill is responding to some private zends, since that last question didn't appear on the screen. Gardner: Bill, when you're finished with a statement, type GA. Joblard: Uh, no, never mind. Go on... Joblard: Ah, GA! Moderator: Nope, I protected him from private sends! Moderator: No distractions! Moderator: None of the time! Moderator: : Question for Mr. Gibson: is there an underlying psychological reason why your stories usually feature tough-as-nails punk rock babes in heroic roles? Moderator: Ahem! Tough-as-nails punk rock babes are the best! Gardner: You can say GA, or, if you prefer, GOO GOO GA GA. Moderator: Or Georgia. Joblard: I have a soft spot for tough-as-nails punk rock babes.GA Gardner: Careful! Moderator IS a tough-as-nails punk rock babe! Moderator: That's RIGHT! Moderator: : Does Mr. Gibson have any predictions about the next century? Gardner: She'll reach through your modem and rip your lungs out! Moderator: Then I'll smoke them. Joblard: That's why mysoft spot is acting up? (It's on top of my head.)GA Moderator: Predictions? Next century? Joblard: Faster, pussycat! Kill! Kill!GA Gardner: (You all DO know that technically the next century doesn't start until after 2001, right?) Moderator: : Your predictions of "the net" has held up extraordinarily well. How well do you think your more current predictions will hold up? Joblard: Probably not so well. The nature of current history makes classical extrapolation difficult to say the least.GA Moderator: : when does WG think we will have direct neural interfacing? Joblard: Within a decade?GA Gardner: Bill, would you GET direct neural interfacing if it was available? Joblard: About as readily as I'd get my myopia corrected with laser surgery. I MIGHT, but I'm in no hurry.GA Gardner: I'm not so sure I want the equvilent of The Phone Company rewiring MY head! Moderator: : Mr Gibson: What are you obsessed with at the moment? Joblard: Gardner's head: hell of a job for that lineman... Moderator: Even Glenn Campbell recoils in horror... Joblard: I'm still obsessed with vintage watches, but it's turning into an anthropolical exploration of the otaku syndrome...GA Moderator: : Okay when will corps own people? Gardner: You mean they DON'T already? Joblard: "The myth of human capital".... (Gardner gets it.)GA Moderator: Station identification: our guest for tonight's chat (which is cosponsored by Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine --, on a browser near you!) is William Gibson. Please sen your questions for WG to me, Moderator, as private messages. (Double-click on my name to get into private message mode.) Moderator: : Any plans to do another novel with Bruce Sterling? Joblard: Well, we'd have to find a TOPIC we could both obsess over, and so far none has turned up.GA Moderator: : Will you be playing an active role in the development of the Neuromancer movie? It's been rumoured that Toronto will be the setting. Is this true? Joblard: No T-o as far as I know. I'm very involved, to the extent that it's happening at all.GA Moderator: : how much did you know about computers before writing Neuromancer? Joblard: As much as I could learn by eavesdropping, drunk, in a convention bar in Seattle in 1980. Literally.GA Moderator: : Q. for Mr Gibson: Do you read any SF for fun? If so, what recent stories have you liked, and why? Joblard: Uh, well... I haven't, much, lately. I advise you all to read Iain Sinclair and Cormac McCarthy. Do that and you won't even NEED me...GA Moderator: : When you collect watches are there particular periods, movements, or m,anufacturers you like the best? Curvex movements, presentation watches, etc? Joblard: I'm into entry-level vintage Rolex windups and JLC military issue. (weird squeaky nerd sounds)GA Gardner: Did you ever wonder what turn your career would have taken if you HADN'T happened to be in that particular bar at that specific time? Moderator: : Mr. Gibson: What kind of computer are you using now? Joblard: Gard: gently alcoholic clerk in used bookstore that smells of cat-piss. Definitely. Joblard: other guy: Performa 5200CG.GA Moderator: : To Mr. Gibson: What's your favorite liquor? Or beer for that matter... Moderator: And... Moderator: to : Does alcohol increase creative thought? Gardner: Gee, Bill, did you ever think of doing computer endorsements? Could be Big Bucks in it... Moderator: (valjean also wants to know if you like dolphins. valjean -- what's NOT to like?) Joblard: Well, used to be very partial to Holsten Pils, which I only ever had in the UK.GA Moderator: : Tell us about Phillip K. Dick's influence on you... please. Joblard: valjean: a tricky question, that. Yes, for about ten minutes, then, increasingly, no. Tho as Martin Amis says, hangovers aren't the worst place to start.GA Joblard: Gard: Nobody wants me to endorsae their stuff. Anyway I'm such a Machead...GA Moderator: No Y2K troubles there! Moderator: Did you want to comment on the Phil Dick influences? Joblard: PKD: precious little, honestly. I think I got my PKD-like moves from Pynchon, mainly.GA Moderator: : Do outline your stories first, then write the details, or go whole hog as it comes to you. Joblard: No, no outline. E.M. Forster said a writer in control of plot and charaqcter was clearly NOT doing his job.GA Gardner: William Burroughs and Raymond Chandler are obvious. Any SF writers who were a big influence on you? Moderator: : why are you so into japanese backdrops for your novels? is there any reason in particular? Moderator: Station identification: our guest for tonight's chat (which is cosponsored by Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine --, on a browser near you!) is William Gibson. Please sen your questions for WG to me, Moderator, as private messages. (Double-click on my name to get into private message mode.) Joblard: Gard: well, Leiber, Sturgeon, Bester come to mind. Fritz was a bigger one than I usually let on, I think. Some of his darker 60s stuff was very pre -CP.GA Gardner: I horrify myself by having a media question: What did you think of THE MATRIX? Seemed obvious to me it had been heavily influenced by your work. Moderator: Leiber's Coming Attractions, certainly. Joblard: You know, I liked the damned thing. I thought it was big, generous, essentially good-hearted movie, with no overtly fascist subtext. And I thought the WG influence was adequately digested. No floating gristle...GA Gardner: Leiber's Time War stories as well. Gritty, urban, and urbane. Moderator: I'm gonna back up to an earlier question I thought was interesting... Moderator: : why are you so into japanese backdrops for your novels? is there any reason in particular? Joblard: Yeah. Fritz was a very urbane character, and that's not always been the norm her in, you know?GA Moderator: Fritz was amazing. Joblard: When I was about 12, I wrote Fritz a letter and got a postcard back. Big deal at the time. Nice man.GA Moderator: I used to visit Fritz in his Geary street apt. Did you want to comment on JaPANESE influences in yr work? Joblard: Well, there's a lot of asian influence here in Vancouver, and the success of NEURO in Japan took me there twice. I just find them fascinating. More so somehow than China etc., not sure why. Inherently more kinky, I think.GA Moderator: : Mr.Gibson: what kind of religion will we have in the future? Joblard: 12 Step programs and role-playing games, basically.GA Gardner: How does it feel to be adequetely digested? Are you now part of the zeitgeist, like the dial tone on the telephone? Joblard: It feels....goooooood.... Like oxtail soup...GA Moderator: Gardner! You're making my head ache! Moderator: : what kind of music does Wiiliam Gibson listen to? Joblard:, a lot. Nick Cave's THE BOATMAN'S CALL. Scud Mountain Boys. Emmylou Harris. There's a new Steely Dan album next month. Good, too.GA Moderator: : Would you agree that technology is reaching such a critical mass that we will one day return to a more simplistic way of living? Joblard: Not unless something f8cks up really badly, we won't. I wouldn't think.GA Gardner: The only way for most of us to return to a more simple way of living is to die. Joblard: Yep.GA Moderator: Or to hide out on New Year's Eve in that cellar with that can of beans... Gardner: Dying is fairly simple. Moderator: : for mr. gibson: what was your inspiration for the walled city? Joblard: The actual Walled City of KOWLOON. Find a book called CITY OF DARKNESS. It's gone now, demolished.GA Moderator: to : To Mr. Gibson: You said that Japan has an influence on your work. Would you include anime (Japanese animation) as part of this?\ Joblard: Well, peripherally. Mr daughter is a big anime fan.GA Moderator: : What do you think can be done to prevent the total loss of privacy? DNA testing, Safe-T-Cam, pattern recognition, everyone's every detail stored and every movement tracked etc, ripe for abuse...... Joblard: I'm inclined to think it's gone Moderator: : Bill: do you think that artificial intelligence will ever become "sentient"? Joblard: are we Gardner: An even better question: if it's "sentient," why should it do what WE want it to do? Moderator: Because it lacks ambition? Joblard: yeah, but we won't Moderator: : To Mr. Gibson: If you could choose to be any one character from your novels, who would it be and why? Moderator: (The whole bossiness thing is a biological artifact, no?) Joblard: mr. yamazaki, good Gardner: If you could choose to HAVE DINNER with any one of your characters, who would it be? Joblard: molly1ga Moderator: And our last question of the evening -- I'm sure Mister Gibson's fingers must be getting tired... Moderator: : so if y2k isn't going to get us... will a magnetic polar shift, a plague or just general greed and nastiness be our downfall? Joblard: relax, kids... ga Gardner: I also have a last question of the evening: Moderator: The suspense! Gardner: What's your next novel going to be about? And are you ever going to write any more short fiction? Moderator: Yes, short fiction please! Moderator: I love the architecture story in Burning Chrome! Gardner: Gardner: Moderator: Short stories are a higher art form than novels -- that's yr motive. Right, Gard? Gardner: Of course. Joblard: (1) Maybe something with (deranged, natch) contemporary setting? (2) I'd LIKE to but it's not really cost-effective, sad to say. Novels pay the mortage better. But I do get the itch, now and again...GA Moderator: Bill -- thanks so much for joining us here tonight! Gardner: Next time you get the itch, go ahead and scratch it! Moderator: This was fun. Gardner: Bill, have you ever wanted to do a completely NON-Bill Gibson-like novel? Gardner: A high fantasy or something? Moderator: Something Jane-Austenish, say? Joblard: Thank you! It's been....epochal! Now I see why people do this. Ignore all previous WG chats. They were...augmented. My tulpa did them for me. G'night! 8-DGA Moderator: Good night, Bill! Gardner: Good night, Bill! Moderator: Ladies and gentlemen -- an exciting first. Joblard: GOOD NIGHT, ALL!GA Gardner: There'll be a lamp in the window for you at ASIMOV'S if you ever want to Come Home! Moderator: Bill Gibson did his own typing tonight -- and found out why this is FUN. Moderator: Gardner does his own typing every two weeks! Joblard: Gardner: Moderator: So you should check back in to see who Gardner has line up -- Michael Swanwick, I believe! Joblard: Moderator: And Lucius Shepard! Joblard: GA...GA....GA Gardner: Next chat is with Michael Swanwick and Lucius Shepard, Bill. Joblard: lucius is.....fuuuuuuuuun......GA Moderator: That's Bill Gibson for the Georgia State Tourism Board! Gardner: You ought to come join us. Gardner: It could be an Ace Specials reunion! Joblard: I'm outa here!GA Moderator: And now, we're gonna go UNmoderated... Moderator: Hold on... VirtualRose: goodnight! Moderator: There! Gomi: WOW! timezone: Bill, don't go...... Gmmas: thanks Bill, Gardner, and Moderator, and Happy new year! Bastard: hoh Clockwork: A fine chat! Well done!