In Distrust That Particular Flavor, Gibson pulls off a dazzling trick. Instead of predicting the future, he finds the future all around him, mashed up with the past, and reveals our own domain to us as a science-fictional marvel…Gibson's writing enters the bloodstream like a drug, producing a mild hallucinogenic effect that lasts for hours…Such is the power of his prose that when I glanced up from the pages of this book and surveyed the street-side around me, I felt as if I were wearing Gibson-glasses.
The New York Times Book Review
One of the most astute and entertaining commentators on our astonishing, chaotic present.”—The Washington Post Book World
“I forget that in addition to being a major novelist (Zero History, Neuromancer, etc.), he’s one of the best essayists and critical observers currently operating within our sociocultural sphere. This is his first essay collection, and it’s messed up how good it is: raw, weird, honest, smart.”—Lev Grossman, Time Entertainment
“Exquisitely written, done to a turn with both insight and that unmistakable prose that is just shy of spectacular....This is a fine and even essential complement to the Gibson canon, and a delight to read.”—BoingBoing.net
“Though he’s often lauded as a big-picture man, these pieces make one thing clear: He’s even better with the little details.”—A.V. Club
“[Gibson’s] new collection of nonfiction shows that his secret strong suit is with the here and the now.”—Los Angeles Times
“The most startling pieces here crackle with his excitement at discovering some unexpected aspect of the new.”—The Globe and Mail (Canada)
“A breezy, engaging read.”—The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Potent...elegant prose.”—The Seattle Times
William Gibson, best known for cyberpunk classics such as Neuromancer, gathers close to 30 years of nonfiction writing into Distrust That Particular Flavor, adding to each previously published piece a short epilog that explains his thinking at the time the essay was composed. The result is a grand collage of nonfiction forms, ranging from a travel piece on Singapore that explores that city-state’s contradictory mix of totalitarian authority and a technology-savvy society, to an essay on George Orwell and our modern movement toward a complete lack of privacy. Getting lost in Gibson’s nonfiction, a gripping mix of image, lyricism, philosophy, and startling clarity, is somewhat akin to reading his fiction—it is a dazzling and immersive prospect.
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Cyberpunk's patron saint of prose proves that his reality is every bit as trippy as his fiction. Gibson's gift for language is such that banal discussions of Steely Dan and even eBay easily take on otherworldly aspects. In his universe, Singapore is left of Pluto, London lies in the Crab Nebula and Tokyo, of course, might well have its own extra-dimensional zip code. Fans of Mona Lisa Overdrive, Neuromancer and Gibson's other popular sci-fi novels will not find this at all strange. There is an element of exclusivity to Gibson's writing that almost lies at the polar end of exposition—or as the author might write, "geared in some achingly complex sphere within sphere way." The illumination in this text comes from the extent to which the complex author reveals himself to be entirely ordinary, just an average Joe trying to make a living off his writing. Recollections of learning the craft, avoiding the Vietnam War, meeting a woman and getting married show that the man who pioneered "cyberspace" (while actually coining the term) is actually just a normal guy. The welcome humanity seeping through the cracks of this matrix serve as an intriguing counterpoint to the esoteric musings heaped on everything from Japanese movie stars to curious storefront windows. Other targets of the author's wonder include the Internet, Futurism and one dude's particularly snazzy pair of jeans. Gibson bolsters the good feelings even further by following up each of these original entries with a brief explanation of what he was thinking about at the time of their creation. In this case, understanding the writer a little better makes the fantastic thoughts emanating from his head all the more captivating and strange. A provocative, surprising look at the lesser-known parts of a sci-fi superstar's writing career.