NPR recently had an interview with William Gibson. Although they mentioned his new book, Zero History, they didn’t talk much about it. Instead, it’s a great conversation about science fiction in general.

You can listen to a recording at:

(Thanks to my good friend Christine for pointing it out!)

Read on for some of my thoughts about the interview.

(Note that the interview is only the first part of the show. The last 15 minutes or so is about other books, so the interview is not quite as long as it might first seem.)

One thing I really appreciated is how Gibson said that Science Fiction is really a story about the time the work was written, not just the future. Good S.F. is built from the current day, so it’s inevitable that some of that bleeds through. There can also be new things that authors can’t even imagine: the rise of text messages on cell phones is something that I don’t think many people anticipated, for example, and look how that has changed our world. Gibson goes so far as to say that S.F. is more of a writing technique to him than a literary genre.

It’s also interesting that Gibson paints Neuromancer as an optimistic story. I’ve taken the somewhat controversial stance that cyberpunk is defined by the dystopian elements, and I guess even the “father of cyberspace” doesn’t agree with me!

Finally, I thought it was insightful that even though the internet has more mundane uses in daily life (lolcats and porn, etc.), Gibson stated that writing that would have taken some of the magic away from the stories. I think some writers (including myself) sometimes gets so wrapped up in getting the details super-accurate or being right that they forget to write a good story. Perhaps he’s just covering for not considering computer networks as a delivery network for porn, but his words do ring true to me.

Anyway, definitely worth a listen if you enjoy S.F. stories. Share your thoughts in the comments below. :)