Beating the Event Horizon

Interviewed by Phillip Dodd for BBC Radio 3’s Nightwaves last night, novelist William Gibson talked about the difficulties of writing in an age in which history has its finger pressed down firmly on the fast-forward button – not a cliché in 1984 when it appeared in Neuromancer – with no letting up in sight.

Gibson wanted to set Pattern Recognition, his latest novel, in the present. He thought that he’d become ‘a little bit too slick at doing the present-trends-transmogrified-into-an-imaginary-future thing.’

But how to catch it, fix it down on paper, a fictional present in a real present which won’t stay still for a second, which finds itself in a world where everything solid is melting into the ether of a world wide matrix, a world of rapid information flows where future shock never stops?

Writing the novel immediately after September 11 2001, he set its present in the ‘very, very near future’.

By the time the book was published, its present had passed. Now it’s a novel about the very recent past.

BBC Nightwaves audio on demand until April 30.