William Gibson American Literature Analysis
Gibson may have helped spark the cyberpunk movement in science fiction, but the concept—and Gibson’s writing—has its roots in previously established forms. This includes the science-fiction New Wave of the 1970’s, represented by such novelists as Philip K. Dick, J. G. Ballard, and postmodern writers who dealt with technology but were rarely labeled science fiction, such as Thomas Pynchon. A particularly important influence on Gibson is William S. Burroughs, whose hallucinatory visions of contemporary life and keen understanding of the human body’s fragility can be traced in cyberpunk.
Stylistically, Gibson owes as much to the hard-boiled detective noir style as to science fiction. The typical Gibson hero is a descendant of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler’s private detectives: loners outside of the system, hired to handle problems which conventional methods cannot solve. He has used femme fatales, such as the razorgirl Molly, and often employs MacGuffins—-plot devices which move a story forward but whose real significance is miscalculated or unknown by the story’s characters—such as the title sunglasses in Virtual Light.
Noir is often paranoid, especially about organizations that wield great authority but are essentially corrupt. Combining this notion with the science-fiction dystopia—a future world of chaos and disorder—Gibson often explores the workings of what may be called “corporate feudal states.”...
(The entire section is 2788 words.)
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