I’m such a slacker

Ok, so here’s the sec­ond half of the William Gib­son Week­end sto­ry. Told as a Thurs­day Thir­teen, because that way I can kill two birds with one stone.

Signed copy
  1. That same night, there was a mul­ti-author read­ing, titled “Encoun­ters”, on the Main­stage. Six authors were on the dock­et, though one could­n’t make it.
  2. Quot­ing from the programme:

    Lawrence Hill and Lin­da Lei­th move char­ac­ters through chang­ing land­scapes. Bren­da Hasiuk, David Char­iandy, and Marie-Claire Blais [who was the no-show, IIRC] gath­er inter­sect­ing char­ac­ters in one space. William Gib­son hooks these two ends of the spec­trum and com­pli­cates it with vir­tu­al dimensions.

  3. They ran three authors, then had an inter­mis­sion, fol­lowed by the last two authors. As things were get­ting set up I saw Gib­son come in and sit in the audi­ence, over the in corner.
  4. The first three authors read from their works: Lin­da Lei­th from The Desert Lake, David Char­iandy from Soucouyant, and Bren­da Hasiuk from Where the Rocks Say Your Name. All were inter­est­ing; I par­tic­u­lar­ly liked Char­iandy and Hasiuk.
  5. At the inter­mis­sion, I went up onto the stage, and had a chat with David Char­iandy, who is per­haps my age. He’s a pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish at SFU (Simon Fras­er, not San Fran­cis­co). He was polite and enthu­si­as­tic. I also told Bren­da Hasiuk that I’d enjoyed her read­ing — her descrip­tion of rid­ing around a fron­tier town in a pick­up truck rung true, and I could almost feel the fab­ric of the seat­belt as she read.
  6. After this I glanced down into the audi­ence. William Gib­son was still sit­ting there in his chair, and there was still no one around him. What the hell, I thought, and went down into the row in front of him. I intro­duced myself, told him I’d always enjoyed his work — I read Count Zero when I was fif­teen or so, and it told me there was a whole new kind of sci­ence fic­tion, some­thing I’d nev­er read before. It hooked me.
  7. We had a brief chat, most­ly cen­tered on a) me try­ing not to say “Ohmy­godIlovey­our­work” over and over again and b) how Gib­son’s work has come clos­er and clos­er to the present.
  8. Con­sid­er: The Sprawl tril­o­gy was set in what I assume would be the 2080s or so, giv­en lit­tle hints in the nar­ra­tive. The Bridge tril­o­gy was prob­a­bly clos­er to about 2030 or so, if I had to guess. But his two lat­est works — Pat­tern Recog­ni­tion and Spook Coun­try are set in the present. The past, in fact: Spook Coun­try takes place in late 2006.
  9. Gib­son made the point that, real­ly, the world we live in now is at least as sci­ence-fic­tion­al as any­thing he’s come up with in his nov­els. Con­stant per­son­al con­nec­tiv­i­ty, the world-wide web and the Inter­net it over­lays: it reads, in some ways, like some­thing out of Neu­ro­mancer. Just add some hus­tlers and an unhealthy dose of street drugs.
  10. (True sto­ry: My sis­ter bought me Ting Ting Dja­he gin­ger can­dies for Christ­mas one year. They looked and tast­ed exact­ly as I’d expect­ed from their descrip­tion as Julius Deane’s can­dy of choice in Neu­ro­mancer.)
  11. Gib­son was very gra­cious, and I sure hope I did­n’t come across as a rav­ing fan­boy. He was very approach­able, and I kind of wish I’d have stayed longer, talk­ing, but I did­n’t want to wear out my wel­come. So I went back to my seat, and wait­ed for inter­mis­sion to end.
  12. McNal­ly Robin­son had a table set up, sell­ing the books from the authors that night, so when he came up to read, Gib­son just grabbed a copy of Spook Coun­try off the table. He reads in a bit of a monot­o­ne, some­thing I knew to expect from hav­ing seen him read on TV. What I was­n’t ready for, though, was his accent: soft and South­ern. After all, we may claim him as a Cana­di­an, but he was born in South Car­oli­na and grew up in Virginia.
  13. And that’s my William Gib­son story.