From BoingBoing, meaning you’ve all seen it already. I cannot WAIT to read Spook Country; Pattern Recognition is one of my very favorite books. I read it in 2003 while obsessing over memetics, copyright, and wifi, right before I went back to school, and it had some sort of weird long-term effect on me. This new one sounds ultra-rad. Here’s a lengthy interview with the man himself, who is getting better as he gets older.
Amazon.com: One thing that struck me about Spook Country is that in a way it’s like the future is living alongside the recent past. It seems like some of the characters in the book live in the future and some of them don’t. There’s this moment when Milgrim is flying on the Gulfstream, this private jet, and he feels like, “Oh, this is how it works, some of the people–”
Gibson: Yeah, absolutely.
Amazon.com: Some of the people live in the future and some of them slip back and forth in the space of a day.
Gibson: One of the things that I’ve found poignant, particularly poignant about that, and it’s kind of a spooky thing, is that most people alive today are never going to see the inside of a Gulfstream. They’re never going to be inside one of those and go for a ride on it. And somehow, I don’t know, that seems heartbreaking to me. Not that it’s that big a deal, but it’s one of those things where you go, okay, this is a divide. We have all of these details about all these lives: which of these people get to go on the private jet? You have this really small subset of people, most of whom do it all the time, which is even stranger.
This reminds me of another Coupland quote (boy, I’m in a 90s mood today) in Shampoo Planet, where a character says that he’d be fine if the entire world slipped back into the Dark Ages, but would absolutely flip out if he saw a jet flying overhead while he was mucking out his pigsty. The idea of a cadre of the ultra-rich surviving at the expense of everyone else is a trope of all types of dystopic fiction and it’s something that produces a thrill of absolute horror in me. So there’s private jets and there’s, like, email; what’s the divide on the latter? What “counts” as living in the future? Aren’t the megacity slums of Rio or Lagos also the future? Do we only want to see the future as positive? And why are nerds all so obsessed with the future anyway?