“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” That’s the first sentence in William Gibson‘s iconic first novel, Neuromancer. And it is brilliant. It slams the reader into the world of virtual reality where the background is the pseudo-random noise of UHF on an old television. And today is Gibson’s 67th birthday.
I think that Gibson gets too much credit for being an innovator. The truth is that he didn’t move much past Philip K Dick. What’s more, Blade Runner came out right before Neuromancer was to be published, and Gibson went in and made changes to make the novel more distinct from the film. The point is: the concepts and that way of looking at the world were in the air.
But here’s the thing: as much as I love Dick’s work, he wasn’t nearly as good or interesting a writer as Gibson. As many people know, I am a pimp for films and books and music that I love. And one of those things I’m always pimping is what I think is Gibson’s first published short story, “Fragments of a Hologram Rose.” It is such a great story. In fact, it is the best thing he ever wrote. But short stories are like that. It is impossible to make novels perfect, and that’s most of what Gibson has written. But “Rose” is perfect. And it’s his birthday. It’s only 2,000 words — even I could read it in about five minutes! What are you waiting for? It’s online:
There was a film made based on what I think is Gibson’s worst work, Johnny Mnemonic. I actually think the film is pretty good. And I especially like this scene:
Anyway, happy birthday William Gibson!
After you read the story, you can check out my thoughts on it, Fragments of Reality.