Brenda Cooper

William Gibson Interview

I’ve never understood why most lectures aren’t better attended.  There were a hundred or so of us at the U last night listening to Nancy Pearl interview William Gibson, but in a city the size of Seattle, every seat should have been taken.  The best news, is many that were taken were taken by my friends. 

So the room is half full.  We’re sitting in theatre-style seats, and on the stage – lit for video – are the diminutive and energetic super-librarian Nancy Pearl and the tall slender writer.  Mr Gibson speaks in a slow drawl, with what is either an accent or a ghost of a lisp, and his words are carefully chosen.  You can see he’s thinking.

A few of the high points (summarized, so my apologies if I don’t get it right):

As he’s talking about history, he mentions that sf did so well because at one time it was beneath contempt.  “Eugene McCarthy didn’t know what sci fi was saying about him.”

Nancy asked if he wrote to make sense of the world, and he said he writes to find the questions, not the answers.

In line with a comment we often make over at Futurist.com, Nancy asked “Does the present change the past?”  and Mr. Gibson answered that it does – that as we learn more about history, as we dig further, we learn more about the past.  Our view of it changes, which changes us. 

Two other concepts of interest:  A novel where the novelist is in complete control of his or her characters is probably boring, and the most interesting contemporary science fiction is science fiction that could not have been written a decade ago.

You should be able to stream this for yourself on the Seattle Channel.