Distrust that particular flavor
July 15, 2012 | By Peter Bihr |
I’m finishing Gibson’s collection of articles, Distrust That Particular Flavor. At last. I’ve been drawing it out, trying to make it last longer, as I’ve been enjoying it tremendously, and collections are easy to stretch out that way, unlike novels or any fiction, really.
Flavors, and my reading it, is meta on so many levels. Reading a book by a science fiction/cyberpunk author collecting articles and speeches by said author himself in the past, commented on and put in context in the much more recent past: it’s a peculiar kind of obsession with, I guess, a person, or perhaps the idea of a person, or their perspective, that you need to be into this kind of thing.
All this, or rather my enjoyment of it, tells you less about myself (besides of course that I have the ability and inclination to obsess in this particular way about things and ideas) than it puts me in context, historically and chronologically, much in the same way his stories are put into context in Flavor by Gibson himself. Notably and most obviously, this contextualization comes in the shape of a time stamp. Me having gotten hooked on cyberpunk and science fiction as a small town youth in the early-to-mid 90s, on Gibson’s and many others’, on written fiction and pen and paper style role playing games of the geekiest variety, as well as movies and all the rest.
It feels a tiny bit weird that at the time of his writing, Gibson was probably just a bit older than I was reading it, or max as old as I am now*. At the same time it feels strangely pleasing, comforting even, that the authors and the genre and my life and the lives of my peers have evolved in parallel to whatever extent is possible, staying to some degree mentally compatible to, again, the degree possible. Meaning, in other words, can still be derived, and more so from the more recent texts where the old ones now hold largely romantic-melancholic-comforting value, backward looking instead of focused on the present (let alone the future, but which sci-fi author would ever presume to write about the future anyway).
If you, too, obsess about the things mentioned above, do read Flavor. It’s a quick, enjoyable read, that invites looking back and revisiting former selves and expectations of present and future. Recommended!
*Update: According to Wikipedia, Gibson was 36 when Neuromancer came out, whereas I was maybe 15 when I read it and am 32 now, so my time references were way off. The point still holds true.