Originally published in the Fully Booked Zine in March 2013, Paul Catiang writes about one of his favorite science fiction authors. Here’s an excerpt:
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” This is the sky above Chiba City in the post-World War III dystopia of William Gibson’s the Sprawl trilogy. It is a world described by metaphors derived from the scorched earth, ubiquitous technology, and mercenary cutthroats that comprise its denizens’ preconscious memories.
The Sprawl trilogy tells stories located in the vast divide between the upper and lower classes, with the middle class all but obliterated, forced into drone-like consumerism and poverty. For those who can escape the previous generation’s post-industrial entrenchment, they can swim in the waters of the emergent, innovative class of mercenary professionals. Here, professionals pit competence, discretion, contacts, and savvy to stay relevant to the black-market world of biz—one misstep and they’re dead.
Gibson likewise takes punk’s in-your-face anger, discontent, hairstyles, and internecine gang wars, and overlays it all onto the matrix of cyberspace and dystopian wastelands. Where business and government respond to this digital void by imposing orderly data lattices, console cowboys introduce chaos through socially engineered mass hysteria, chemical warfare, and cybernetic implants—a madness that conceals their precise methods.