Never Meet Your Heroes

Pro­ducer Allan Carr was once quoted as say­ing ‘Never meet your heroes’. His rea­son­ing was a meet­ing he had with his hero Paul New­man, who when he actu­ally met him just turned out to be a badly dressed old man who didn’t want to be there.

I haven’t had the chance to meet very many of my heroes any­way, but last night I did. I went to a talk at the New York Pub­lic Library (you know, the one with the lions) by William Gib­son, one of my all time favorite authors and heroes. I don’t regret it.

I’ll admit, my first reac­tion upon see­ing him in per­son was along the lines of “Wow he’s a lit­tle bent over old man”, but once he starts talk­ing, that goes away. The mod­er­a­tor of the event had asked him to pro­vide a seven word biog­ra­phy, which he used to intro­duce him. His cho­sen words were..

Post War. Cold War. Stop War. Later.

He said this summed up his life. He was born post war, then lived through the cold war, the 60s and 70s and the anti war move­ment, and now… is “Later.” It also smacks greatly of Gins­berg and Bur­roughs and the Beat writ­ers he says he first idol­ized grow­ing up in Virginia.

The fact he crafted such mean­ing and feel­ing into seven short words shouldn’t be much of a sur­prise to Gib­son fans. After all, the way he entered the writ­ing world was with what many peo­ple (and not just his rab­bid fans) con­sider one of the best open­ing sen­tences of a novel of all time.

The sky above the port was the color of tele­vi­sion, tuned to a dead channel.

He talked a lot about his life and what influ­enced his writ­ing, which I won’t get into much because it’s all avail­able on wikipedia and in assorted bios of him, but then some­thing very excit­ing hap­pened. He broke his almost reli­gious prac­tice of never dis­cussing his cur­rent projects, and talked to us about his upcom­ing novel, roughly titled ‘The Periph­eral’ which he says he is about 1/3rd of the way through. He said the book alter­nates voices from chap­ter to chap­ter between a near­ish future of about 30 years out that is fairly rec­og­niz­able, and a very far out future which is unrec­og­niz­able, and by his own account, very dif­fi­cult to write. He said he couldn’t tell us too much about it because unlike most of his past works this one relies heav­ily on a lot of ‘reveals’ and telling us much about the story would be full of spoilers.

Then he read us the first few pages. Sim­ply amaz­ing, I am one of the few peo­ple to hear the begin­ning of his next book, the world pre­miere! There wasn’t too much story in the first few pages, mostly scene set­ting. The char­ac­ter ‘Flynn’ is obvi­ously ex mil­i­tary, liv­ing in an antique stream­line trailer on his family’s ranch, which he calls ‘the most valu­able thing on the prop­erty’. He has scars from where ‘hap­tics’ were removed when he left the mil­i­tary. I can only assume that Flynn him­self is ‘the periph­eral’ that the title refers to. There isn’t much more to say, like I said it was mostly just scene set­ting, but it was very excit­ing to hear it.

I also got him to sign a copy of the 20th Anniver­sary edi­tion of Neuromancer!

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And took a few more pictures..

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