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PODCAST: William Gibson on celebrity, technology and top-secret jeans [MP3]

Author William Gibson has been called the father of cyberpunk and coined the term "cyberspace" back when Internet was little more than a twinkle in DARPA's eye.  That's enough to mean that he's probably developed a fan base devout enough to build shrines in his honor, or at least commemorative iPad apps.

But if you ask Gibson himself -- like one audience member did during a Brookline Booksmith reading at the Coolidge Corner Theatre last year -- it still doesn't make him a celebrity.  Literary acclaim aside, the author of Neuromancer and the rest of the dystopian Sprawl trilogy, said that as a writer, he gets "only the most homeopathic dose of celebrity," a minimal form of fame that doesn't merit VIP treatment.

"You can't even get into the club," he joked.  "I could be there at the velvet rope for a long time, going, ‘but I'm William Gibson!'"

Speculative fiction fans won't have to worry about velvet ropes on Thursday, August 4, when Gibson will be acting at least a little famous at the Harvard Coop, signing books and reading from his most recent novel, Zero History.

Update: Gibson's tour dates this week have been cancelled.

It's not Gibson's first trip to the Boston area for such an event; at last year's Booksmith presentation, he read from "Muskrats," chapter 13 in Zero History.

In "Muskrats," Milgrim, a recovering drug addict, and retired rock star Hollis Henry--characters from Gibson's 2007 novel Spook Country--primarily discuss fashion while snacking on croissants.  Maybe not what you'd expect from the guy known for his visionary writings on the information age, but in Zero History (which John Bowker reviewed after its release last fall), Gibson uses the fashion industry as a launch point for a high-tech adventure that begins with a secret denim brand and ultimately involves government conspiracies and corporate intrigue.

While Gibson said he has no plans to start his own underground denim line in real life, he does intend to continue keeping an eye on how, exactly, people are interacting with increasingly advanced technology.  Comparing his observation to that of an anthropologist, he said he finds it important to note how people actually use an item, regardless of its intended purpose.  Consider the pager, a staple of every ‘90s drug dealer.

"The people who invented cellular pagers never imagine that cellular pagers would change the landscape of crime in America more radically than anything since the revolver," he said, "but they did."

Head to the Harvard Coop for more of Gibson's insights on fame, fashion and felonies, and don't forget to prep for the event  by checking out our podcast.  You could always just show up for the reading without listening in advance, but wouldn't Gibson be disappointed if you didn't take advantage of the pervasive technology?


DOWNLOAD: William Gibson at the Coolidge Corner Theatre [MP3]


Recorded live at the Coolidge Corner Theatre on September 22, 2010, courtesy of the Brookline Booksmith; if you liked this, check out the Booksmith's events calendar. To subscribe to our podcast, paste this RSS feed into your podcatcher or feed-reader of choice, or bookmark http://thephoenix.com/podcast.

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