Saturday, June 4, 2011

William Gibson

From a Q & A with William Gibson about his novel Pattern Recognition:

Why did you decide to set this novel in the present, unlike your previous novels?

I've been threatening to do it for a while. The last three books feel to me more like "alternate presents" than imaginary futures. Science fiction is always, really, about the period it's written in, though most people don't seem to understand that. The way that September 11 changed the world is a major theme in this book. How would you describe that change? By writing this book. And I'd leave it at that. I'm more interested in finding questions than answers. Questions are more enduring.

Your main character, Cayce Pollard, is a young woman who specializes in pattern recognition - in recognizing group behavior around certain cultural objects or activities or events or ideas before anyone else does. Isn't this also what a novelist does? How strong is the parallel between you and Cayce?

I don't take the labels off my jeans, or go into anaphylactic shock at the sight of certain designer goods, but I'm aware of branding, and interested in it, in how it's done, and how central it seems to be to what we do as a culture. There's been some sort of investigation of celebrity, in my last couple of books, and that may be the ultimate in branding.

Cayce has an ambivalent relationship with cultural trends. On the one hand, she's exquisitely sensitive to them. On the other, she can be physically repulsed by them - particularly by certain forms of advertising or fashion or corporate marketing. Do you think this is a common experience today?

I would imagine...[read on]
Learn what Gibson is scared of.

--Marshal Zeringue