Gibson on the Web
Gibson on "Idoru"
William Gibson's Book Bag
reality has been catching up with William Gibson's science fiction for a long time now -- as "cyberspace," the term he invented in his 1982 novel "Neuromancer," entered everyday parlance, and cyberpunk passed with alarming speed from literary movement to buzzword to fleeting Hollywood fashion.
Now, Gibson -- who has long professed his technological illiteracy and Net virginity -- is catching up with reality, too. He has a Web connection in his home and has launched a Web site of his own. And his latest novel, "Idoru," features his most detailed picture yet of what people might be and do in an online world of the near future.
"Idoru" imagines a romance between an Irish-Cantonese rock star, Rez, and a Japanese "idoru" or "idol singer" who is actually a software construct. The action takes place in a Tokyo that has suffered a devastating earthquake -- and rebuilt itself almost instantly with nanotechnology. The book is a tightly plotted, eccentrically entertaining mystery, one whose resolution only leads to a deeper enigma.
Meditating on the nature of celebrity in a technological age, "Idoru" suggests that stars exist so much more in the space of media than in the world of flesh that a jaded celeb might well feel more kinship with a computer-generated media being than with a real woman.
Gibson himself -- despite his influence and following, and despite his recent brushes with Hollywood during the unhappy saga of the movie "Johnny Mnemonic" -- has not let the celebrity mill grind him down. He's refreshingly unprocessed. Tall, stooped and a courtly 48 years old, he lives with his family in Vancouver, speaks with the ghost of a Southern accent -- and continues to hone a rarefied sense of irony about the subtle interplay between the present and the future, the fictional and the actual.