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Monday, September 03, 2007


Most awesome thing I did over the summer: attend a free lecture given by William Gibson concerning his new novel, Spook Country (awesome; buy it).

Gibson is taller and lankier and more bent than I imagined him to be. He reads his own work well, unlike many authors, and seems to find glee in swearing in front of his audience; I wonder if this is because he's in the USA.

At the end of his lecture, he took some questions. I learned that he didn't realize that he had given the main character in Pattern Recognition (my favorite book; buy it) the same name, phonetically, as the main character in Neuromancer (introduced the term 'cyberspace' to the world; buy it) until he was most of the way through writing the former. It doesn't make any difference to me; if I ever feel and subsequently succumb to the urge to procreate, all my children will be burdened with the name Case or Cayce. I'm a bastard like that. Then again, I was named after a character on Days of our Lives, so I suppose being named after a character in a novel is a step up.

Gibson bemoans readers who find his work deeper and more knowledgeable than he believes it to be. He has a modest belief that he is a "master of bullshit," and that those who read deeper meanings into his work are "seeing faces in clouds."

I counter that some people subliminally create deeper meaning and interesting connections. Without comparing Gibson directly to Shakespeare, which would of course be a terrible sin, I doubt the bard consciously intended even a tenth of the subtext and symbolism attributed to his work by modern interpreters. I don't think Jackson Pollock had any clue he was painting fractals which years later could be analyzed to establish authenticity. I don't think Stravinsky sat down and drew up an octatonic tonal plan for the "Rite of Spring" before putting pen to manuscript. Sometimes, talented minds can make these kinds of leaps and design these structures without conscious effort.

Or maybe I'm just trying to comfort myself for falling for the bullshit.

In any case (pun unintended ... or was it?), at the end of the Q&A session, Gibson specifically asked for a question from "one of the ladies" (reminded me of this wonderful interview with Bruce Campbell: "We've gotta get more chicks at these conventions... Men are fine, but I get sick of lookin' at 'em after a while"). So I stuck my hand up.

I was speaking to Gibson. Impersonally, on a microphone and across a room full of people, but I was nevertheless speaking to William Fucking Gibson. </creepy fangirl> I asked about the disturbing rumors I keep hearing about the Neuromancer movie, and what he thought of plans to turn his books into movies. I know it's kind of a faux pas to ask about movies when you're talking about books, but what the fuck, I was genuinely curious.

The gist of his answer was:
  • He thinks filmmakers shouldn't turn books into movies, but should make up their own stories. Then again, he concedes, he's a writer.
  • Pattern Recognition was at one point going to be filmed by Peter Weir (Aha! Hence the Picnic at Hanging Rock reference in Spook Country, possibly!) in a "rock solid" deal, which subsequently fell through.
  • Neuromancer is under option until February 2009, so expect a movie before then, or don't expect anything at all (at least until the rights are optioned again).
  • "If you're at all concerned about Neuromancer being made into a film -- you probably should be."

I could have had my copy of Spook Country signed, but he mentioned that he had just signed 700 copies for his agent, the line was awfully long, and I thought it a little unfair to ask him to sign one more for me. I already got my fangirl fix.

Incidentally, Gibson fans are really godawful, and I now live in constant fear that I am of their type. Eavesdropping while waiting in the auditorium for the lecture to begin, I was treated to obnoxiously loud conversations, intended less for the other conversationalists than the strangers sitting nearby, about sophomoric philosophies, tragic comparisons of sub-par sci-fi, and (attempted) uber-geek/h4x0r dick-waving. But perhaps my irritation is only a function of having the same impulses. I hope not.
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