Everyone wants to see the future, but few can. Yet once in awhile a writer comes along with the gift of seeing what’s ahead. It happened when William Gibson foresaw a vision of the future, a place that included the World Wide Web — the Internet– before it actually existed.
In 1984 Gibson, up until then exclusively a writer of short stories, wrote his first novel, “Neuromancer.” The title combines ideas about science/technology and romance. It’s the story of an on the skids computer techie who is hired, under suspicious circumstances, to commit a major hacker job.
The novel was Gibson’s debut as a long-form writer, and is firmly within the “cyberpunk” genre, a style of writing that foretells a future that is gritty, urban, techno-savvy but also tinged with hopelessness and decay – a dystopia. He was commissioned to write it by the editor of “Ace Science Fiction Specials,” and wrote furiously for a year to complete it on deadline. Gibson has admitted that he felt unready to complete a novel, but finished it due to contractual obligations.
The book was released after the ground-breaking, dystopian film “Blade Runner,”– but the author was well into the writing of “Neuromancer” at the time of its release.
Gibson’s futuristic vision of the Internet and modern culture captured the zeitgeist, and “Neuromancer” was given the triple crown of Sci-Fi literary awards — the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award and the Philip K. Dick Award . It’s an unprecedented achievement.
Gibson’s vision of the future was prescient in its telling of a computer web that would link computers and their users in worldwide communication. In describing his vision of “the web,” he coined the term “cyberspace, “ which quickly became part of the American cultural vernacular.
Acclaimed for his literary style and mind-blowing cultural insights, Gibson has become one of the most acclaimed futurist writers of our time. “Neuromancer” was the beginning of the “Sprawl” trilogy, which he then followed with another trilogy. His latest novel, “Zero History” is his tenth. Luckily for his fans, Gibson shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.