William Ford Gibson was born on March 17, 1948, in Conway, South Carolina, to William Ford Gibson and Otey Williams. That he was born around the same time as the publication of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) is auspicious, given Gibson’s contributions to utopic and dystopic literature. Gibson’s father was a civilian contractor who helped build the Oak Ridge atomic bomb facility during World War II. After his father died in Gibson’s early childhood, Gibson and his mother moved to Virginia, where he spent his youth until he attended boarding school in Arizona as a teenager. To avoid the draft for the Vietnam War, Gibson dropped out of high school in 1967 and left the United States at the age of nineteen. In 1972, he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, and joined the bohemian post-1960’s culture thriving there. Gibson attended the University of British Columbia, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in English literature in 1977. He married Deborah Thompson, a language instructor, and they had two children together. His work as a founder of the cyberpunk movement in the 1980’s and early 1990’s has left a legacy of seminal novels that are essential reading for science-fiction fans and critics and those interested in so-called cyberculture.
An almost overnight success as a science-fiction novelist, Gibson is best known to the general public as having coined the term “cyberspace” and having envisioned virtual reality long before its technological applications were possible. His first novel, Neuromancer, won the 1984 Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards—the three highest honors for a science-fiction writer—in a first-ever sweep. Neuromancer’s descriptions of dystopic urban decay, combined with utopic virtual possibilities, presented the dominant metaphor for cyberspace. The Sprawl series—Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive—merged technology, multinational corporate capitalism, and vast urban landscapes in a mélange that revolutionized and reinvigorated the...
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