William Gibson FAQ


Compiled by Manuel Derra.
Webmaster of William Gibson aleph


This FAQ is copyright 2000 by Manuel Derra.
It may not be reproduced in part or completely in any form
electronically, physically or other without permission of the
author. It may be posted on non-commercial sites with the permission
of the author.

Author's Note:
Hello and welcome to my William Gibson FAQ. I hope you find this guide
useful for your purposes. In this FAQ I will compile all information
I have obtained for the William Gibson aleph website. This FAQ will
be available in English and German.

This FAQ will be posted on alt.cyberpunk. Latest versions are
available at http://www.8op.com/gibson/en/faq.txt (English version)
and http://www.8op.com/gibson/de/faq.txt (German version).



I    Introduction

II   Biography

III  Books
  1  Sprawl series
  2  The Difference Engine
  3  San Francisco series
  4  Burning Chrome

IV   Short fiction

V    Other works

VI   Movie adaptations

VII  Other adaptations

VIII Interviews

IX   Internet resources

X    Credits



Welcome to my guide to William Gibson. I have been collecting
information about William Gibson for a while and have started the
William Gibson aleph webpage at the end of 1999. In order to share
this information with those who wish to know, I wrote this FAQ. It is
far from finished but will update soon.

I started writing this in Q&A style but shifted to merely listing the
points. More specific questions will be added.



William Ford Gibson was born March 17, 1948 in Conway, South Carolina
but left the United States for Canada when he was nineteen. The only
son of a civilian contractor who had prospered during the construction
of the Oak Ridge facility that manufactured the first atomic bomb,
Gibson spent his childhood with his widowed mother in a small town in
the mountains of southwestern Virginia, attended a boarding school in
southern Arizona, and at age 19 left the United States for Canada in
order to avoid the draft for the Vietnam War. Since 1972, he has lived
in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife and their two children.

Gibson began to write fiction while attending the University of British
Columbia, where he earned a bachelor's degree in English literature.
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 coined the term 'Cyberspace', and with having envisioned both
the Internet and virtual reality before most people had even heard of
them. His subsequent novels are 'Count Zero' (1986), 'Mona Lisa
Overdrive' (1988), the bestselling 'Virtual Light' (1993), 'Idoru'
(1996), and the recently published 'All Tomorrow's Parties' (1999). He
has also written a collaborative novel, 'The Difference Engine' (1991),
with Bruce Sterling. His short stories are collected in 'Burning
Chrome' (1986).

'Neuromancer' very soon gained a cult status by being one of the first
novels in a new science fiction genre called cyberpunk. The cyberpunk
literature of the eighties had a very pessimistic view of the future,
predicting the rise of multinational capitalistic corporations, and
showing the negative effects the forthcoming new technologies may have
on everyday human life. Although it has been said that cyberpunk as a
literary genre is already dead, the ideas William Gibson presented in
his novels are now appearing in many other contexts - both artistic,
sociological and technical.




1.1 Neuromancer (1984)

'Neuromancer', William Gibson's debut novel, has won all major science
fiction awards (Hugo Award, Philip K. Dick Memorial Award, Nebula
Award, Seiun Award, and Ditmar Award) and defined a whole new genre of
science fiction. It is regarded as one of the breakthrough novels of
the eighties and founded the cyberpunk literary genre, even though
Gibson does not like the cyberpunk label.
By the time he wrote 'Neuromancer', Gibson did not even own a computer,
but he envisioned a global information network (the 'Matrix') with a
virtual reality simulation interface ('cyberspace', a term he used
before in the 'Burning Chrome' short story).
'Neuromancer' was adapted as a computer game, graphic novel, and audio
book. A movie version was planned. (see chapters 'Movie adaptations and
'Other Adaptations' for more info.)
320 pages, Voyager edition, 1995, ISBN 0006480411

1.2 Count Zero (1986)

'Count Zero' is the second chapter in the Sprawl series. It is set in
the same dark future and takes place about eight years after the events
of 'Neuromancer'. Cyberspace has gained consciousness since the
unification of Neuromancer and Wintermute, and parts of AI are loose in
the matrix with their own agenda.
The protagonist's handle 'Count Zero' comes from the programmer term
'Count Zero Interrupt'.
'Count Zero' was planned to be made into the movie 'The Zen
Differential' (see chapter 'Movie adaptations' for more info.)
336 pages, Voyager edition, 1995, ISBN 000648042X

1.3 Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)

'Mona Lisa Overdrive' is Gibson's third novel and conclusion to the
entire Sprawl series. The main characters are Angie Mitchell and Bobby
Newmark from 'Count Zero', and there are many references to the events
of the other Sprawl stories. Even though the style of the book is
similar to its prequels, the story lacks the drive of 'Neuromancer'.
320 pages, Voyager edition, 1995, ISBN 0006480446

1.4 Short stories

The stories 'Johnny Mnemonic', 'New Rose Hotel' and 'Burning Chrome'
are also set in the world of the Sprawl.


'The Difference Engine', co-authored with Bruce Sterling, is not set in
the future but in the middle of an alternate nineteenth century.
Steam-driven mechanical computers have been developed and determine the
life of the protagonists in this detective story.
Gibson and Sterling point out the effects of the information age one
hundred years ahead of its time. This book is often refered to as a
'Steampunk' novel because of the steam driven analog computers in this
429 pages, Spectra edition, ISBN 055329461X


3.1 Virtual Light (1993)

After finishing the Sprawl series, Gibson starts a new trilogy in a
revised setting. 'Virtual Light' takes place in the near future and is
more tame and more probable than his previous novels. Gibson's vivid
style and his keenness on newest achievements of electronic and
information technology evoke a tense and suspense vision of the future.
The term 'Virtual Light' was coined by scientist Stephen Beck to
describe a form of instrumentation that produces optical sensations
directly in the eye without the use of photons.
352 pages, Bantam Spectra edition, 1994, ISBN 0553566067

3.2 Idoru (1996)

'Idoru' is the second novel of William Gibson's 'San Francisco' trilogy
(even though most part of it takes place in Tokyo), and the main
characters of the book are very similiar to 'Virtual Light'. Gibson
concentrates on the themes of media and popularity in a post-cyberpunk
'Idoru' is a Japanese word derived from the English 'idol'. In the book
the idoru appears as a completely artificial media celebrity. Gibson
said that the idea for the idoru came to him when he heard about the
computer-generated Japanese pop star Kyoko Date.
388 pages, Penguin Putnam edition, 1997, ISBN 0425158640

3.4 All Tomorrow's Parties (1999)

'All Tomorrow's Parties' is the third novel in Gibson's latest San
Francisco trilogy. As in 'Mona Lisa Overdrive', he brings together
characters from the prequels 'Virtual Light' and 'Idoru'. The book
takes place a few years after 'Idoru', i. e. between 2015 and 2020.
The 'Lucky Dragon Corporation' and their technology were obviously
inspired by a visit in Singapore Gibson made for Wired magazine for
writing the article 'Disneyland With the Death Penalty'. The book's
title is taken from a famous song by 'The Velvet Underground'.
277 pages, Penguin Putnam edition, 1999, ISBN 0399145796


'Burning Chrome' is a collection of excellent short stories that Gibson
wrote before his debut novel 'Neuromancer'. Most of them contain ideas
which Gibson used in his later novels. Some of these stories take place
in the same world as 'Neuromancer' and the other Sprawl novels.
Stories in this collection:  'Fragments of a Hologram Rose', 'The
Belonging Kind', 'The Gernsback Continuum', 'Hinterlands', 'Johnny
Mnemonic', 'New Rose Hotel', 'Burning Chrome', 'Red Star, Winter
Orbit', 'Dogfight', 'The Winter Market'. (see chapter 'Short fiction
for more info.)
220 pages, Grafton edition, 1988, ISBN 0586074619



- 'Fragments of a Hologram Rose' (1977) - published in Unearth 3, 1977
- 'The Belonging Kind' (1981) with John Shirley - originally published
   in Shadows 4, 1981
- 'The Gernsback Continuum' (1981) - originally published in Universe
   11, 1981, also contained in 'Mirrorshades', made into a short TV
   film 'Tomorrow Calling' in the UK (1995)
- 'Hinterlands' (1981) - originally published in Omni 1981, also made
   into a comic.
- 'Johnny Mnemonic' (1981) - originally published in Omni 1981, made
   into a movie in 1995. (see chapter 'Movie adaptations' for more
- 'New Rose Hotel' (1981) - originally published in Omni 1981, made
   into a movie in 1998, (see chapter 'Movie adaptations' for more
- 'Burning Chrome' (1982) - originally published in Omni 1982, adapted
   for the stage and performed by Next Theatre and Sacred Fools Theatre
- 'Red Star, Winter Orbit' (1983) with Bruce Sterling - originally
   published in Omni 1983; also contained in 'Mirrorshades'.
- 'Dogfight' (1985) with Michael Swanwick - originally published in
   Omni 1985.
- 'The Winter Market' (1985) - originally published in Vancouver
   Magazine 1985/11, also in Stardate 1986.
- 'The Silver Walks' in 'High Times' 1987/11' - chapter 15 of 'Mona
   Lisa Overdrive'.
- 'Kumi in the Smoke' ('Kemuri no naka no kumi') (1988/3) - chapter 1
   ('The Smoke') of 'Mona Lisa Overdrive'.
- 'Hippie Hat Brain Parasite' (1989) - in 'SEMIOTEXT[E] SF' (1989),
- 'Tokyo Collage' (1988) in 'SF Eye' 4, Summer 1988.
- 'Tokyo Suite' in the Japanese edition of 'Penthouse' (1988/5-7).
- 'The Angel of Goliad' (1990) with Bruce Sterling - originally
   published in 'Interzone' #40 1990, makes up the first portion of
   'The Difference Engine'.
- 'Doing Television' (1990/3) in 'The Face', p81-82 - nearly the same
   story as 'Darwin'.
- 'Darwin' (1990/4) in 'Spin'.
- 'Skinner's Room' (1990) in 'Visionary San Francisco' - The characters
   and takeover of the Bay Bridge by the homeless reappear in 'Virtual
- 'Cyber-Claus' (1991) in 'The Washington Post Book World'.
- 'Academy Leader' (1991) in 'Cyberspace: First Steps'.
- 'Where the Holograms Go' (1993) in 'The Wild Palms Reader'.
- 'Thirteen Views of a Cardboard City' (1997) in 'New Worlds' #222,



1. Agrippa - A Book of The Dead

William Gibson wrote the poem 'Agrippa - A Book of The Dead' about his
dead father and his relationship towards him. It consists of childhood
memories and thoughts about his fathers photo album with the title
Agrippa, and therefore is not science fiction or cyberpunk. 'Agrippa'
was released on a limited edition encrypted diskette that erased itself
page by page as you read. The book itself contained artwork by Dennis
Ashbrough, a painter from New York, related to the content of the poem
(such as advertising posters from the 1920s). It was made using a
special ink that dissapeared after prolonged exposure to light.
All the pages are filled with lines of genetic code that are actually
an encoding of the novel. On December 9, 1992, 'Agrippa' was made
available to the public for one day, at museums across America, through
the Internet. The poem text was soon hacked and put on various Internet

2. Movie scripts

William Gibson wrote a script for the movie 'Alien3' but it was
rejected. The only detail of his script that made it into the movie was
the part with the prisoners having bar codes tattooed to their heads.
The actual script was written by Larry Ferguson and David Giler, the
movie was directed by David Fincher (1992).

Gibson also wrote the script for 'Johnny Mnemonic'. (see chapter 'Movie
adaptations for more info.)

3. 'The X-Files' episodes

The X-Files episode 'Kill Switch' written by William Gibson and Tom
Maddox aired Febuary 15 1998. Subtitle: 'Sentient computer program
targets its creators for extinction'.

Gibson and Maddox wrote another episode for the seventh season of 'The
X-Files'. It is called 'First Person Shooter', directed by Chris
Carter, and aired February 27 2000. 'A murder inside the high-tech
world of a virtual reality game leads Scully to battle a deadly digital
character in order to save Mulder's life.'

4. 'Wired' articles

'Wired' magazine sent William Gibson to Singapore to write the article
'Disneyland With the Death Penalty' (1993, Wired 1.4) Some of Gibson's
considerations about Singapore obviously made it into his latest novel,
'All Tomorrow's Parties'.

Gibson wrote the article 'My Obsession' for 'Wired' magazine in 1999
(Wired 7.01), about his obsession with on-line auctions at eBay. The
article is about his own experience and his opinion on on-line

The article 'William Gibson's Filmless Festival' (1999, Wired 7.10)
is about the films of young directors who use digital cameras instead
of film. Gibson writes about a few movies and muses about the future of
digital filmmaking.

5. Other

- Introduction to 'Heatseeker' (1989)
- 'Rocket Radio' in Rolling Stone (June 15, 1989)
- Foreword to 'Strange Attractors' in 'Alien Sex' (1990)
- 'Notes on a process' in 'Wired' 3.06 (June 1995): p157-159.
- 'The Recombinant City: A Foreword' (1996)
- 'New fiction: Lo Rez Skyline' in 'Rolling Stone' #735 (May 30, 1996):
   an excerpt from 'Idoru'.
- Foreword to a new edition of 'Dhalgren' by Samuel R. Delany (1996)
- 'The Net Is a Waste of Time' article in 'New York Times Magazine'
(July 14, 1996)
- 'Jack Womack and the Horned Heart of Neuropa' (1997)
- 'Dead man sings' article in 'Forbes' (November 30, 1998 supplement):
- Introduction to 'The Avram Davidson Treasury' by Avram Davidson
- Introduction to 'The Art of the X-Files' by Chris Carter (01/2000).
- 'Steely Dan's Return' in 'Wired' 8.03 (March 2000).
- Foreword to a new edition of 'City Come A-Walking' by John Shirley
- Introduction to a new edition of 'The Artificial Kid' by Bruce



1. Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

Based on the short story 'Johnny Mnemonic' from the 'Burning Chrome'
short story collection, Gibson wrote the screenplay for the movie. It
is directed by Robert Longo and starring Keanu Reeves and Dolph
Robert Longo said that they intended to make a 'dirty, edgy
black-and-white science fiction film' but shifted to big movie because
nobody was interested in funding what would have been 'a giant student
film'. Gibson himself says Hollywood forces changed the movie from his
and Longo's vision, and that the Japanese cut of the movie (in English
with Japanese subtitles) is closer to their intent.
Directed by Robert Longo, written by William Gibson, starring Keanu
Reeves as Johnny Mnemonic, Dina Meyer as Jane, Ice-T as J-Bone, Takeshi
Kitano as Takahashi, Dolph Lundgren as Street Preacher, Henry Rollins
as Spider, Udo Kier as Ralfi.

2. New Rose Hotel (1998)

This movie is based on Gibson's short story 'New Rose Hotel' from the
'Burning Chrome' short story collection. Gibson did write the story but
not the screenplay.
Apparently this story was originally optioned by Malcolm McLaren
('Clockwork Orange', also appears in lots of bad sci-fi movies). It was
finally made by Abel Ferrara who got famous with gory b-movies
('Driller Killer') and, later on, 'Bad Lieutenant' (starring Harvey
Directed by Abel Ferrara, written by Christ Zois, starring Christopher
Walken as Fox, Willem Dafoe as X, Asia Argento as Sandii.

3. Neuromancer

It was rumored that this movie would be released around 1999/2000 and
directed by the British director Chris Cunningham. He has been
acknowledged for directing several music videos for Aphex Twin ('Come
To Daddy', 'Windowlicker'), Madonna ('Frozen') and Portishead ('Only
You') and is also known for his f/x work in movies like 'Alien3'. The
producer Alex Lightman has become famous with entertainment projects
like 'Star Trek: First Contact', 'Babylon 5', and 'The X-Files'.
The movie script which has been floating around on the Internet for
some years now is not by William Gibson which it usually is attributed
to. It was written in 1990 by Chuck Russel ('The Mask', 'Nightmare on
Elm Street' sequel, 'Eraser' etc).
The official website www.neuromancer.org has been put off-line as of
June 2000 which probably means that the project has been postponed or

4. The Zen Differential

Based on Gibson's novel 'Count Zero'. The screenplay was written by
John Lloyd Parry, the movie is rumoured to be directed by Michael Mann
and produced by Kathryn Sommer. Not much is known about the production
or release.
Latest information on this project is from 1998 which probably
indicates postponement or cancellation. The movie script by John Lloyd
Parry is dated January 5, 1996.



1. Neuromancer computer game (1988)

In 1988, Interplay published the role-playing adventure and action game
'Neuromancer' for Apple II, Commodore C64, Amiga and IBM/PC computers.
The player takes the role of Case who finds himself in Chiba City. The
aim of the game is to prevent the AIs Neuromancer and Greystoke to take
over the Matrix. The first part of the game takes place in Chiba City
where the player needs to hack various terminals and visit lots of
original places from the book, while the second part is fighting
against various AIs in cyberspace.
Unfortunately, the graphics don't really evoke the atmosphere of a
dirty, gritty future. The storyline of the game is not that close to
the original but includes lots of original places and names.
Playable versions for PC (runs in MS-DOS mode) and C64 version (can be
played with the CCS64 emulator) and a walkthrough can be found at

2. Neuromancer graphic novel (1989)

The graphic novel covers only the first third of 'Neuromancer'
(Chapters 'Chiba City Blues' and 'The Shopping Expedition'). It is
quite well done, even though the characters have a kind of edgy look to
them (especially Molly). Cyberspace sequences look good. Still, the
comic fails to create the book's atmosphere and is thus only
recommended for beginners.
Gibson, apparently an avid comic fan during his youth, said that he is
satisfied with the graphic novel and that it looks pretty much like
what he imagined in 1983. He also said that if any of his work was
adapted for the big screen, he would be very happy if it would come
that close to his original intention as the graphic novel.

3. Neuromancer audio book (1994)

William Gibson reads Neuromancer. Gibson's flat twang voice work can't
express the variety of all the characters, but his presentation of the
narrative drive of the tale is excellent. His narration reveals the
spiritual center of the tale in the forty hours/5 minutes that Case is
flatlined in Neuromancer's cyberspace construct, it's a passage of
lyrical emotion. U2 is credited with some of the incidental sounds in
the background.
Read by William Gibson; abridged by Jeffrey Gorney; text edited by John
Whitman; original music by Stuart Argabright, William Barg and Black
Rain; music by U2; words by The Edge. Los Angeles, California: Time
Warner Audio Books, 1994. 5 sound discs: digital; 4 3/4 in.

4. Burning Chrome play (1998)

William Gibson's short story 'Burning Chrome' was adapted by Next
Theatre in Evanston, Illinois in 1998 and by the Sacred Fools Theatre
in Los Angeles in 1999. The story was adapted by Steve Pickering and
Charley Sherman, and the play was performed for the first time on
February 6, 1998 by Next Theatre, directed by Steve Pickering. The play
was also performed one year later by the Sacred Fools, directed by
Scott Rabinowitz.

5. Other

- 'Hinterlands' comic (1995)
- 'Tomorrow Calling' TV film (1995)
- 'Johnny Mnemonic' computer game (1995)



Gibson, of course, has given lots of interviews. Refer to Tama's
Linkcenter (http://www.student.uwa.edu.au/~tamaleav/gibson.html) for



William Gibson websites

- William Gibson Links - Tama's Linkcentre
  Contains lots of links to Gibson-related media on the internet,
  frequently updated, lots of interview links.
- William Gibson Bibliography / Mediagraphy
  Very comprehensive listing, including ISBN numbers and detailed
  publishing information, compiled by S. Page.
- william gibson's yardshow@idoru.com
  William Gibson's Yard Show, official website created by Christopher
  Halcrow, not updated since 1996.
- Neuromancer's Matrix
  Website of Andrea Loibnegger, founder of the William Gibson Webring.
- Cognitive Dissidents
  OK website with annoying advertising, updates partially.
- Chiba - A William Gibson Webpage
  Website with good article references.
- William Gibson straylight
  Very old nice collection of information, not updated.
- William Gibson Online Library
  Lots of downloads.
- NEUROMANCER - Eine William Gibson Seite
  German online resource about Gibson and related stuff.
  Comprehensive FAQ.

Related projects

- The Cyberpunk Project
  Very comprehensive pages about cyberpunk history, authors, movies and
  so on.
- The Difference Dictionary
  Excellent background information about the Victorian age for 'The
  Difference Engine'.
- A.D.K.O.M (German)
  A Different Kind of Matrix, German website about 'Neuromancer' and
- Yahoo! Clubs thesprawlofwilliamgibson
  Club with chat and message board.


- The Ghost of Cornell: Biography
- TU Kyoko Date DK96 Archive
  Information and images of the virtual Japanese pop star Kyoko Date
- Next Theatre Website
  The crew who adapted Gibson's 'Burning Chrome' for the stage.
- Sacred Fools
  Another theatre which played 'Burning Chrome'.
- CCS64: The best C64 emulator for the PC
  Emulator to play the C64 version of 'Neuromancer'.
- The Gaming Depot -- www.gamingdepot.com
  Lots of download of old DOS games, including the PC version of
- Interplay
  Company which published the game 'Neuromancer'.

Other related information

- The X-Files official website
  Background, images, and rundown of X-Files episodes, including two
  episodes by Gibson and Maddox.
- The Internet Movie Database
  Comprehensive movie information.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
  Online dictionary.
- Amazon.com
  Where you can buy all of Gibson's books online.
- Wired Magazine
  Contains archive with all of Gibson's articles for 'Wired'.



- numerous websites (see chapter 'Internet resources')
- S. Page - excellent mediagraphy listing.
- Script Hound - For providing the 'Zen Differential' movie script and
  some information about the 'Neuromancer' movie script.


Copyright 2000 by Manuel Derra.

Brought to you
The Cyberpunk Project