William Ford Gibson, novelist, short story writer, screenwriter (b at Conway, South Carolina 17 Mar 1948). An important science fiction writer, William Gibson was raised in Virginia and moved to Toronto in 1969 to avoid the military draft. He later settled in Vancouver, where he completed a bachelor of arts degree at the University of British Columbia. Gibson published his first short story while he was a student at UBC. His fiction, mostly set in a decadent, gritty near-future of mega-conglomerates and computer networks, is closely associated with contemporary science fiction's cyberpunk movement, of which he is considered a founder. His detailed projection of cybernetic and bioengineering technologies, however, reveals a deep ambivalence toward technology itself, as his characters find their selfhood emptied into computerized instruments. William Gibson has been dubbed "the poet laureate of cyberspace."
William Gibson's best-known novels comprise the Neuromancer trilogy; Neuromancer (1984), which features a data thief protagonist who can link his mind with the world-spanning computer matrix, won the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards and was followed by Count Zero (1986) and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988). Much of the trilogy's action takes place in a virtual landscape of data called cyberspace, a term that Gibson himself coined in his 1982 short story "Burning Chrome."
In the dystopian novel The Difference Engine (1990, in collaboration with Bruce Sterling), William Gibson evokes an alternative 19th-century Britain dominated by the calculation, measurement and severely practical reason resulting from the invention of a computer. Virtual Light (1993) is set in 21st-century California, a wasteland where technology exists alongside poverty, violence and greed. Virtual Light opens Gibson's Bridge trilogy, which also includes Idoru (1996), which explores the themes of media and popularity in a post-cyberpunk setting, and All Tomorrow's Parties (1999), set on the eve of the millennium.
William Gibson is also a successful screenwriter. He wrote episodes for The X-Files television series and the screenplay for the 1995 film Johnny Mnemonic, based on his 1981 short story and starring Keanu Reeves. Gibson's 2003 novel, Pattern Recognition and his Spook Country (2007) are set in the current day, but he continues to explore how individuals are compromised by the technologies that they have developed to navigate a post-9/11 world.