Early Life Born March 17, 1948 in Conway, SC Grew up in Wytheville, VA but frequently moved around due to his father’s work At age 15 Gibson’s father choked to death in a restaurant Gibson and his mother returned to Wytheville “[Wytheville is] a place where modernity had arrived to some extent but was deeply distrusted” -Gibson
Early Influences At age 13 Gibson purchased an anthology of Beat writing and was thus introduced to such authors as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs who had a profound impact on Gibson’s views on science fiction literature. Continuing his reading in Burroughs and Henry Miller, Gibson renounced religious views and was eventually sent to boarding school in Tucson, AZ, by his mother at age fifteen. Gibson’s mother died when he was age 19.
Draft-dodging and Love After his mother’s death Gibson left his school and travelled around the U.S. and Europe centering himself around the counterculture movement. He moved to Canada in 1967 to avoid the Vietnam War draft. However, Gibson later related that his choice to move was less about conscientious objection and more about “sleeping with hippie chicks” and enjoying hashish. Gibson moved to Vancouver, meeting his wife and settling down with their first child. He returned to school to receive his bachelor’s degree in English in 1977.
Post-Graduation and Punk Following his graduation, Gibson stopped writing and instead expanded his knowledge of the punk movement. Attending a science fiction convention in Vancouver in 1980 or 1981, Gibson met author and punk musician John Shirley. Shirley was able to convince Gibson to take his writing seriously and introduced Gibson to Bruce Sterling and Lewis Shiner. The two authors immediately recognized Gibson’s work as being “the way forward” in science fiction literature. Gibson, Shirley, Sterling, Shiner, and Rudy Rucker formed the central force of the cyberpunk movement in science fiction literature.
Early Works Sterling best described Gibson’s early short stories, collected in the volume Burning Chrome, as “Gibson’s classic one-two combination of lowlife and high tech.” Gibson’s short stories focused around the effects of cybernetics and cyberspace on humanity and were mainly focused around small shanty towns with high levels of technology, typical of the cyberpunk genre.
Neuromancer Terry Carr commissioned Gibson to write Neuromancer for the Ace Science Fiction Specials and given a year to write it. After completing a third of the novel, Gibson watched the recently debuted film Blade Runner and realized the immense similarities. Believing Neuromancer would flop because of Blade Runner’s success, Gibson re-wrote the majority of the book twelve times. Neuromancer, a mostly underground hit, became the first novel to win the the Nebula, Hugo, and Phillip K. Dick awards. Gibson has also mentioned that the idea for Neuromancer was developed from watching stoners play videogames.
Influence and Prediction Gibson’s works, especially Neuromancer, have been proclaimed as an influence for many different media as well as the evolution of major technologies such as the Internet. His coining of the term “cyberspace” has been used as the term for the world wide web for many years and especially during the 1990s. The film The Matrix was named and its concepts were derived from Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy. When creating the technology for his works, Gibson imagined a worldwide communications network and dubbed it the “matrix” only a couple years before the birth of the World Wide Web. Author Jack Womack has suggested that Gibson’s contribution of Neuromancer may have helped the world to embrace the uses of the Internet and helped to shape its development into what it has become today.
Gibson’s Literary Works Novels Sprawl trilogy: Neuromancer (1984) Count Zero (1986) Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) The Difference Engine (1990; with Bruce Sterling) Bridge trilogy: Virtual Light (1993) Idoru (1996) All Tomorrow's Parties (1999) Pattern Recognition (2003) Spook Country (2007) Short stories Burning Chrome (1986, preface by Bruce Sterling), collects Gibson's early short fiction, listed by original publication date: "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" (1977, UnEarth 3) "Johnny Mnemonic" (1981, Omni) "The Gernsback Continuum" (1981, Universe II) "Hinterlands" (1981, Omni) "New Rose Hotel" (1981, Omni) "The Belonging Kind", with John Shirley (1981, Shadows 4) "Burning Chrome" (1982, Omni) "Red Star, Winter Orbit", with Bruce Sterling (1983, Omni) "The Winter Market" (Nov 1985, Vancouver) "Dogfight", with Michael Swanwick (1985, Omni) "Skinner's Room" (Nov 1991, Omni) Full List of Gibson’s Works: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_of_William_Gibson