Driving GUNHEAD with Chris Palmer

Episode 05 of Literary Punk featuring William Gibson is up on Hookturn! Climb on board the decommissioned GUNHEAD, with me and outstanding SF scholar Chris Palmer at the wheel, as we take a drive round Gibson’s 1993 illumination of the cyberpunk future, VIRTUAL LIGHT.

Virtual Light BridgeCommenting in his 2005 collection of critical writings On SF, the late Thomas M. Disch argued: Gibson “is still, on the evidence of Virtual Light, the fastest thinker” of a new generation of SF writers (2005, p146).

For this episode I’m joined by Melbourne scholar, Christopher Palmer, an author widely published on contemporary SF (Philip K Dick, Iain M Banks, China Mieville), to discuss why Gibson’s 1993 book is a luminous novel, both inside and beyond the category of cyberpunk literature.

Dystopia’s not supposed to feel this good! We explore the texture of Gibson’s language and narrative, and the desire of the heterotopian spaces he opens up within the usual tropes of dystopian futures. We talk about the “wonder” of being in Gibson’s “NoCal / SoCal”, where Mies’ God is indeed in the details …of a mixed media off-grid Oakland Bay Bridge, or, as Palmer notes, in the detail of a little punk word like “just”, which accompanies dual protagonists, Rydell and Chevette’s, defiantly improvised relationship with their city.

Strap yourself in, get ready to experience Gibson’s language couriers, who deliver directly onto the reader’s nerve endings a constantly improvised crisis: the moment of living the future-Now. 

[VIRTUAL LIGHT, William Gibson, Penguin, 1994]