How William Gibson discovered science fiction

Eileen Gunn has posted the final issue of her magnificent online sf magazine, The Infinite Matrix, and she's concluded the issue with a wonderful original essay by William Gibson:

Squeezing in past a sheet of plywood, I explored a series of cold, empty rooms. One of these (my heart beat faster) contained a damp old trunk. Having worked up the nerve to open it, I found only a few faded lithographs (as I now imagine they were) of airplanes. But these were airplanes unlike any I had seen, and they held my attention in a peculiar way. They were old, clearly of some other era, but exciting, and somehow frightening as well. Squatting there, staring at them, I felt as though some enormous wedge of information was being driven into my head. Various bits and pieces of half-knowledge were coming together, forming some new and utterly unexpected whole. I already knew, as if by osmosis, that there had been a war, though I didn't know when, or with whom. I had been raised, so far, by adults who sometimes spoke of "the war" as some previous time or era or world, but I had somehow never associated that with other, more vague ideas of some past and general conflict. I had read comic books about war, and played with military toys, but had never considered how those might fit into some way the world had actually been.

I had found World War II, in that trunk. I had discovered history, or it me, and I would never be the same.

Science fiction, then, I found on various wire racks, one of them offering a 15-cent copy of the Classics Illustrated version of The Time Machine – which must have led me, just as its publishers claimed to have intended it to, to Wells's text. When George Pal's film version was released, in 1960, I already felt, though secretly, that The Time Machine was mine, part of a personal and growing collection of alternate universes, and that no one else in the theater really got it.