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(Fark Fiction Anthology)   "The future is already here - it's just not evenly distributed." --William Gibson. This is your Fark Writer's Thread, distributed edition   (farkfiction.net) divider line
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625 clicks; posted to Main » and Discussion » on 10 Aug 2022 at 3:45 PM (7 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2022-08-10 3:01:24 PM  
There is almost as much written about William Gibson as is written by him, it seems, but I didn't find an easy bullet point list of 'How to write like William Gibson' anywhere. There's a wealth of articles, some of which he wrote about himself, which makes the comparison even harder but they're all worth a read.

Gibson is an American-Canadian speculative fiction writer who created the idea of 'cyberpunk' and was instrumental in creating steampunk. He's been called one of the most important novelists of the end of the last century, and as is befitting someone who's had a massive cultural impact, has received a laundry list of accolades and awards.

He's active on Twitter and is absolutely worth a follow.

What can we learn from his writing stlye?

The first sentence is a handshake. He starts his novels by creating the voice of his book in the very first thing the reader experiences.  If you've read anything by him, you know how everything opens up in a way that's initially incomprehensible: you have to keep reading to understand it.
"It's similar to the pleasure of the whodunit, but it's really more the pleasure of what the fark?"

He keeps his science fiction real. He starts with the present moment of the world and expands it until he finds the intersection point between extrapolated trends. Sometimes those trends can be terrifying, and that's where we see his view of the future:
"With each set of three books, I've commenced with a sort of deep reading of the farkedness quotient of the day," he explained. "I then have to adjust my fiction in relation to how farked and how far out the present actually is." He squinted through his glasses at the ceiling. "It isn't an intellectual process, and it's not prescient-it's about what I can bring myself to believe."

He never starts with intentions. He has trouble describing his work and even his process, but one thing is sure: he's a pantser, not a plotter.
"The part of me that walks around, that conducts interviews and behaves in the world, has no idea how to write a novel," he said. "I never start with ideas and intentions at all.
"If I sit there long enough and become sufficiently frustrated at the page being blank, little windows open up... little glimpses of mood and territory," he said. "And very slowly bits and pieces emerge, and I find myself in the company of a character. But I don't know what the character is doing."


He writes for the audience in his mind. He didn't think Neuromancer was going to be successful, so he wrote it hoping that someday, some small group of fans might find it and enjoy it. To him, that was success. He didn't expect anything else.
I do remember seeing Terry, some time after I'd turned it in. I hadn't heard from him, at all. He was descending a curved stair, from the upper to the lower lobby at some convention hotel. Had he gotten my, um, manuscript? Yes, he said. "Is it going to be OK?" I asked, my anxiety phrasing the question. He paused on the stair, gave me a brief, memorably odd look, then smiled. "Yes," he said, "I definitely think it will," and then continued down, and on into the bar.

Spoiler alert: it turned out OK.

Writing question of the week:

Do you incorporate predictions into your work? How have they turned out?

Fark Fiction Anthology Update:

The editor and reader team is hard at work reading and scoring all submissions, and we hope to have this done by the 31st of this month. Stay tuned!
 
2022-08-10 3:59:44 PM  
One degree of separation. I went to school with the woman who would become Gibson's literary agent. She's retired now.
 
2022-08-10 4:00:15 PM  
If you want to write like Gibson or Bruce Stirling or Rudy Rucker, check out the Turkey City Lexicon.
 
2022-08-10 4:01:26 PM  
Gibson is a really good and smart guy. And "Neuromancer" is fantastic.

But...I haven't enjoyed any of his other novels. For me, he said everything he had to say with "Neuromancer". Even the other books in the "Sprawl" trilogy have nothing interesting to add , and in my opinion, they detract from "Neuromancer".

I feel the same way about Neil Gaiman. "The Sandman" is basically a compendium of every good idea Gaiman will ever have.

But that's okay. One Great Idea is all you need.
 
2022-08-10 4:17:19 PM  
On page 42 of the play.  I'm starting to wonder if I'm pushing the characters enough (or myself).

Ever onward....
 
2022-08-10 4:23:02 PM  
When you say "incorporate predictions into your work", do you mean inadvertently predicting something that happens in the future, or do you mean fictional foreshadowing? I did once write a short erotic science fiction romance that used the words "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" for "Mother" and "Father" to be more inclusive. A few years later, a state (I can't recall which one) made a proposal to change wording in adoptions from "Mother" and "Father" to "Parent 1" and "Parent 2". It didn't pass. That's the closest I've come to making an outright prediction.

My writing is going well. I'm working on author interviews for The Horror Zine. Now I'm working on one for mystery writer Laurie R. King. Next is horror and mystery writer Brent Monahan. Busy reading their books. I've been working on short fiction, but so far mostly rejections. I'll keep submitting stories. Rejections generally don't get me down.

I hope everyone is well and busy writing!
 
2022-08-10 4:29:25 PM  
My son loved Gibson's' books.  We have quite a few books written by Gibson.
 
2022-08-10 4:30:14 PM  

realmolo: But...I haven't enjoyed any of his other novels. For me, he said everything he had to say with "Neuromancer". Even the other books in the "Sprawl" trilogy have nothing interesting to add , and in my opinion, they detract from "Neuromancer".


He's my favorite author, and all his sprawl stories and earlier short stories grabbed me. I have an autographed hardcover edition of Neuromancer.  And I also really liked Virtual Light -- his San Francisco of the future was scary real -- and thought Idoru was a fun read.  But every book after has been a slow slide downward.  I've been trying to read his latest for months and can't finish it.  Just doesn't grab me.
 
2022-08-10 5:14:54 PM  
When the shiat hits the fan, it is not evenly distributed.
 
2022-08-10 5:22:28 PM  

realmolo: Gibson is a really good and smart guy. And "Neuromancer" is fantastic.

But...I haven't enjoyed any of his other novels. For me, he said everything he had to say with "Neuromancer". Even the other books in the "Sprawl" trilogy have nothing interesting to add , and in my opinion, they detract from "Neuromancer".

I feel the same way about Neil Gaiman. "The Sandman" is basically a compendium of every good idea Gaiman will ever have.

But that's okay. One Great Idea is all you need.


To paraphrase: They asked Joseph Heller in an interview, "Catch-22 was amazing, why haven't you created anything comparable since?"  "Who has?" he responded.
 
2022-08-10 5:30:06 PM  

realmolo: Gibson is a really good and smart guy. And "Neuromancer" is fantastic.

But...I haven't enjoyed any of his other novels. For me, he said everything he had to say with "Neuromancer". Even the other books in the "Sprawl" trilogy have nothing interesting to add , and in my opinion, they detract from "Neuromancer".

I feel the same way about Neil Gaiman. "The Sandman" is basically a compendium of every good idea Gaiman will ever have.

But that's okay. One Great Idea is all you need.


I really liked The Difference Engine (written with Bruce Sterling ). Basically the book that started the steampunk genre.
 
2022-08-10 5:31:06 PM  
Tirned in my Abridged Script for Soylent Green a week ago tomorrow. Still waiting to hear back from the editor.

*Taps fingers impatiently*
 
2022-08-10 5:58:01 PM  
"Do you incorporate predictions into your work? How have they turned out? "

I agree with ms_lara_croft that I don't know what you mean by that. As the writer of the story, I don't have predictions in it, I have hints to the reader aka foreshadowing.

I went to the fortune-teller
To have my fortune read
I didn't know what to tell her
I had a dizzy feeling in my head.

...

Now I'm a happy feller
I'm married to the fortune teller
We're happy as we can be
(Now I get my fortune told for free.)

I never cared much for "cyberpunk" or "steampunk" either. I do remember a steampunk novel about some people traveling in a giant steam-powered mechanical man across the USA, which was amusing but unsatisfying. If you want to call "2001" a "cyberpunk" because of HAL, fine.

I submitted a story. Maybe it's not good enough. I am working now on something completely different.
 
2022-08-10 6:28:00 PM  

toraque: Writing question of the week:

Do you incorporate predictions into your work? How have they turned out?


With me, it's usually the other way around. I read about some new theory or development in science and try to figure out how that would affect the average person ... and the rest of society.

For example, I read an article here on Fark about the wasted infrastructure all over eastern Washington state being used for cryptocurrency mining, and wondered what that might be used for after crypto finally seized its bearings and died.

So I wrote a story about a high-tech mercenary broker making alliances with artificial intelligences to 'liberate' AIs from their owners, using all that 'wasted' infrastructure as a reliable, hack-proof transition network. That story didn't make the cut for the anthology (grrr), but another story in that milieu did- a couple of years later.

I did make a prediction (sort of) in that milieu- a type of quantum-entanglement-based internet-style global computer network called 'Spin', based on modifying the spin of various subatomic particles, which in turn modifies the spin of entangled particles in a detectable fashion elsewhere on the planet. This one has not yet come to pass, but I'm definitely taking credit for it if it does become reality- or even reality adjacent.
 
2022-08-10 6:51:30 PM  
 I don't know if it counts because I'm writing a story about a fortune teller but I've been having fun making his card readings come true. The beauty of writing is not only do I control the future, but I can edit the past to fit the future.  so my fortune teller gets to be right as much as I let him.

Off topic but last night I got to spend some time with people who were also authors. That was really fun, I've never knowingly met a real author before. They did non-fiction but we shared a lot of stories on techniques, plus I got to lay out a little of my books to people who seemed interested. It was fun, and I learned or relearned that writers write. whatever technique or style it's getting those words on to pages. Still not sure if I'm a writer or ever will be, but if I keep trying who knows?
 
2022-08-10 7:28:57 PM  
Sun Tzu had a story about predictive writing.

General #1 wrote on parchment, "On this spot General #2 was killed", and nailed it to a tree.

Later that night as General #2 rode past he saw the parchment on the tree, and walked over with his torch to read it. Once the parchment was illuminated, that was the signal for dozens of archers to shoot at the spot in front of the tree.

Spoiler: General #2 was killed on that very spot.
 
2022-08-10 8:05:02 PM  
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2022-08-10 9:04:42 PM  

carnifex2005: I really liked The Difference Engine (written with Bruce Sterling ).


I thought it was an interesting idea, but it failed in its execution.  There were some good bits, but they didn't coalesce into a whole, if that makes any sense.  Note that YMMV as always.

The future is pretty unevenly distributed.  I have yet to use a phone application to pay for anything, yet I was writing HTML in mid-1995.
 
2022-08-10 9:48:23 PM  

mad cowboy: I don't know if it counts because I'm writing a story about a fortune teller but I've been having fun making his card readings come true.


Ahhh...  it's been done before. And then there are the stories about the fortune teller who makes his prediction come true.

I used to read cards. It was a lot of work, meditating and getting into the zone, just to learn how to do it. I would tell the person what his question was, in a general way, and give an answer. I was seldom wrong. I have given it up because it scared me. Beware.
 
2022-08-10 10:13:53 PM  
My current story cycle is about current trends mirrored in an alternative past, i.e. dieselpunk. My predictions aren't really about our future but about where I hope we are heading. Unfortunately, if nothing changes, their future is our present. But it's a different timeline so I can get away with anything.

The eerie part is how my stories often echo the real world. The first installment is about an airship that goes off course over the South China Sea. Soon after that, a real airliner disappeared over the South China Sea (cue Twilight Zone theme). With any luck the happy ending will foreshadow reality.
 
2022-08-10 11:05:31 PM  
  I started science fiction with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.  Niven was pretty good when I felt Asimov was a bit too preachy sometime after middleschool.  I still think Niven's known space stuff has the best alien races mix (Kzinti, Puppeteers, various former Kzinti slave races, and of course those human precursors, Protectors).           Eventually someone turned me on to Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, and I vastly preferred the former.   I think i just prefer the humorous Stephenson approach to the dry science of Gibson.  Has anyone found a funnier sci fi book than Cryptonomicon they can recommend?

Sci Fi Hall of fame hierarchy:    Stephenson > Niven > Asimov > Heinlein > Gibson
 
2022-08-11 12:22:57 AM  
This weekly thread has consistently been one of my best resources for ideas on what to read next. Have just checked out a Gibson and a Stephenson from the library. Thanks for the reccys.
 
2022-08-11 1:28:06 AM  
Since when is Gibson American?

He says he is a voting Canadian cirizen. IIRC, born and raied Vancouverite?

https://twitter.com/greatdismal/status/632771644386226176


Lives in Vancouver right now.
 
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