Wednesday, January 23, 2008

William Gibson in Second Life

Last autumn, William Gibson made an appearance in Second Life, giving a reading from his most recent novel, 'Spook Country'. 'Neuromancer', an earlier book of his, is one that I consider a sci-fi classic. Some comments about 'Neuromancer' are included in this video.

In an interview with, William Gibson actually spoke of his responses to the world of Second Life: : Speaking of virtual multiplayer worlds, have you visited Second Life at all? I know that you're doing some promotions for the book there.

Gibson: I'm going to do something there, and it'll pretty much be the first time I've been there since I did go and check it out last winter. It was a strange experience. : Did they treat you as a god there?

Gibson: Well, I didn't go as myself. I went as the guy that I cooked up when signed up, so nobody knew it was me. And actually it was like a cross between being in some suburban shopping mall on the outskirts of Edmonton in the middle of winter and the worst day you ever spent in high school. : Yeah, I have to say I've visited the outskirts and it frightens me.

Gibson: It's deserted. It seems like functionally it has to be deserted. If it's not deserted it crashes. So there's all this empty, empty architecture. There's whole cities where there's only one other person and they don't even want to get close to you. And when you do succeed in finding a group of other avatars, people aren't very nice. : They're meaner than they are--it's like people are in their cars.

Gibson: Yeah, they're meaner than they are in the real world. There may be other places that I haven't seen... : If you had said who you were, you would have been one of the popular kids, I imagine.

Gibson: Yeah, but then you don't get to find out what it is. But who would have believed me? And who could have know that, because a part of my frosty reception was that I set all of the avatar's sliders in the opposite direction than I assumed most people would do. So I wound up being this grotesquely overweight, bright blue smurf. In a tutu. Nobody thought that was cool. You know what really worried me about Second Life? Is that after I'd spent maybe like four or five hours checking it out last December, I was walking around in the Christmas shopping crowds here, and every so often I would see somebody from Second Life walking down the street. There are people, always well under 30, who look like they've escaped from Second Life. : They dress like an avatar.

Gibson: Yeah, they dress like an avatar, they're built like an avatar. It's a very spooky thing. And I think somewhere in my file of lines for fiction there's one about a guy, his girlfriend looks like he found her in Second Life.