"John, we've forgotten to take our food pills."

I demand a better future

I just found William Gibson's old short story "The Gernsback Continuum" online. There's some trouble with the formatting in my browser, and it runs straight into the next story without linebreaks (the last line is "my little bundle of
condensed catastrophe" and then it goes straight into the next one) but the text is all there. Here's another version, which is better-looking, but has an introduction which is not in the original and which loads very slowly on my computer.

Reading it now, Gibson's early style is way, way over the top. Part of what I always liked best about the Sprawl trilogy was his baroque, lyrical descriptions of his dirty future (his later novels are much more conversational in tone). In his early short stories, though, the style mostly doesn't work. But this one, the Gernsback Continuum, must be one of the most intriguing works of sci-fi from the last century. It tells the story of a photographer who is given an assignment to photograph futuristic architecture from the fifties and earlier. As he starts the assignment, he goes crazy (or perhaps actually comes in contact with alternate presents), and starts seeing the imagined futures of the past in his daily life. Hilarity and postmodern, existential emptiness ensues.

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Blogger Mikkel said...

God, I just love baroque, lyrical descriptions. Can't get enough of them.

June 28, 2007 2:54 pm  
Blogger suttonhoo said...

I feel the same way about pretty pictures.

more, please.

June 30, 2007 4:37 am  

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