More Fun Than You'd Expect From Essays,
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This review is from: Distrust That Particular Flavor (Hardcover)
William Gibson is best known for his cyberpunk stories, but he is an essayist as well who has written a rather goodly number of pieces for various magazines, newspapers and other media outlets. I came to this collection not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised that the odd beat of his fiction comes across in his essays as well, giving the reader a hyper-cool, relentlessly technology-edged point of view that reveals the man's pet obsessions and gives you a much better idea of where he gets his story concepts from. As someone who loves Gibson's cyberpunk stories and has stuck with him through the later works, I am interested in his influences, and Distrust That Particular Flavor will give you a lot of those influences.
In this book Gibson explores a lot of subjects. He discusses his childhood and upbringing in just enough detail to give you, well, the flavor without becoming boring about it. He discusses the Japanese in several essays, talking about their techno-fetishes and his opinion that the Japanese are "the default setting for the global imagination." He talks about film more than you'd expect a writer to do, including a very entertaining take on the making of Johnny Mnemonic and some notes on indie films he's watched and a few he's enjoyed. He talks about how little television he watches, as a sort of badge of pride. In short, in this book you'll learn a good deal more about the man William Gibson than you ever would from his fiction, and he's made this process entertaining, thought-provoking, and all-around more fun than it should be.
In my opinion this book is a great value. You can pick up a copy for around ten bucks, used and in great shape, and it'll take you a couple of afternoons or half a day of dedicated reading on the weekend to demolish it. You'll be in on the formation of one of science fiction's most popular writers and will probably learn a few things about global culture as well. But at the end of the day Distrust That Particular Flavor (which is a quote from one of the essays herein) is simply a good time with a person who has taken pains to make himself interesting, and that pays off for you, the reader.