The Literary Encyclopedia
  Search for:
Search All
New Articles
Contact us

William Gibson (1948-)

(William Ford Gibson)

Tatiani Rapatzikou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

(1707 words) Print

Add to Bookshelves

Active 1984- in USA, North America

William Gibson is one of North America's most highly acclaimed science fiction writers. His work has received international attention and has been translated into numerous languages worldwide. His first novel, Neuromancer, won the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, and the Nebula Award in 1984. Gibson is credited with having created or popularised the term “cyberspace” and having envisaged virtual reality before it existed.

Gibson was born in 1948 in Conway, South Carolina, and spent most of his childhood in the small town of Wytheville in southwestern Virginia. As a child he spent much time travelling due to his father's construction jobs. His father died when he was eight years old and his mother when he was a teenager at a boarding school in Tucson, Arizona. At thirteen he was first acquainted with science fiction through reading traditional science fiction writers such as Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury and Theodore Sturgeon. In his later teens and twenties he came across experimental science fiction in the writings of William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, and J.G. Ballard.

In 1968, susceptible to the draft to Vietnam, Gibson began travelling in Europe and Canada. After a period in Toronto, he settled with his wife, Deborah Thompson, in Vancouver in 1972, enrolling for a degree in English at the University of British Columbia. Here he attended his first course on science fiction, organised by Professor Susan Wood, an active researcher in the field of fantasy, science fiction and Canadian literature. At the end of this course, Gibson was encouraged to write his first short story, “Fragments of a Hologram Rose”, which is now collected in Burning Chrome and Other Stories (1986). This was first published in UnEarth, a short-lived science fiction magazine, in 1977. This publication was followed by a number of other stories which appeared in science fiction magazines such as Omni, Universe 11, and Shadows 4. All the short stories and collaborative pieces he wrote with other cyberpunks – Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Michael Swanwick – between 1977 and 1986 are included in the Burning Chrome collection with a preface written by Sterling.

Gibson worked at various jobs but for three years he was employed as teaching assistant on a film history course at the University of British Columbia. When his children were born he decided to stay at home to care for them, and it was then that he started writing again. He chose to return to science fiction and wished, through his writing, to renovate a genre that many people considered insignificant. Terry Carr, the editor of the Ace Science Fiction Specials Series, was looking for new science fiction writers who would rejuvenate his series. He approached Gibson, who set about writing Neuromancer, which would later prove to be one of his most significant works. The novel is set in a near-future world known as “th

This article has been cut short: our major articles range from 1500-4000 words but only the first 600 words or so can be read by non-members. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors. To read about membership, please click here.

First published 17 June 2003

Citation: Tatiani Rapatzikou, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. "William Gibson." The Literary Encyclopedia. 17 Jun. 2003. The Literary Dictionary Company. 10 October 2007. <>

All entries, data and software copyright © The Literary Dictionary Company Limited
ISSN 1747-678X