How William Gibson keeps his science fiction real

The New Yorker:

Gibson was far from the first sci-fi writer to explore computers and their consequences; a movement, soon to be known as cyberpunk, was already under way. But “Neuromancer” changed science fiction by imagining a computer-saturated world that felt materially and aesthetically real. Gibson’s hardboiled prose was fanatically attentive to design and texture.

The ten novels that Gibson has written since have slid steadily closer to the present. In the nineties, he wrote a trilogy set in the two-thousands. The novels he published in 2003, 2007, and 2010 were set in the year before their publication. Many works of literary fiction claim to be set in the present day. In fact, they take place in the recent past, conjuring a world that feels real because it’s familiar, and therefore out of date. Gibson’s strategy of extreme presentness reflects his belief that the current moment is itself science-fictional. “The future is already here,” he has said. “It’s just not very evenly distributed.”

When I was a kid, I loved Isaac Asimov’s view of the future. As an adult, I understand and expect Gibson’s brilliant writing to be more representative of it.