Can you jam with the console cowboys in cyberspace?

Apparently a 13-year-old Julia Stiles appeared in an episode of PBS' Ghostwriter series, playing the hacktivist editor-in-chief of the Hurston High School newspaper in "Who is Max Mouse?" Do let us revel in the memories of a simpler time, full of long-forgotten promises of a better world brought on by Gibsonian buzzwords and the promise of equality and opportunity through a technological utopia.

How naive we once were.

In case you aren't familiar with Ghostwriter, it was a PBS show about a group of kids who solved mysteries with the help of an invisible ghost who could manipulate letters and words to create sentences and clue the kids in to whatever information that they needed at the time. No one ever knew who this Ghostwriter was, or how it came into its knowledge or abilities, but a 2010 interview with producer and writer Kermit Frazier revealed the surprisingly dark that really puts a fascinating twist on my childhood: “Ghostwriter was a runaway slave during the Civil War. He was killed by slave catchers and their dogs as he was teaching other runaway slaves how to read in the woods.  His soul was kept in the book and released once Jamal discovered the book.”

That's a lot darker, and more powerful, than this old kids' show ever let me know.

Image by SlimVirgin - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

The Science Fiction Writers of America inducts William Gibson as its next Grand Master

What an excellent choice! Dr William Gibson, Grand Master of Science Fiction has such a nice ring to it. Go Bill! You can watch him get his award at the next Nebula Awards weekend, May 16-19, at the Warner Center Marriott Woodland Hills in southern California. I have been to a Nebula weekend in at least a decade, but I'm putting this one in my calendar. (Image: Frederic Poirot, CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

The forgotten cyberspace of the Neuromancer computer game

William Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer is far from forgotten; the times seem almost uncannily like an interregnum between the world he wrote in and the world he wrote. But the 1988 video game adaptation is another matter. [via]

Mark Hill:

The game’s developers were challenged with portraying this futuristic nonspace while still creating an accessible and interesting game, and all with computers that were barely a step up from a calculator and a potent imagination. The end result is surreal, abstract, and lonely. It’s a virtual world that’s simultaneously leagues beyond our internet, yet stunted and impractical, a world where you can bank online before doing battle with an artificial intelligence yet won’t let you run a simple search query and forces you to “physically” move between one virtual location and the next. It’s cyberspace as envisioned by a world that didn’t yet have the computing power to experience it for real, a virtual 2058 that would look archaic before the turn of the millennium.

Hill gets it, especially how the game seeks to understand cyberspace as a city. But I think he's wrong in suggesting that contemporary hardware limitations ("a step up from a calculator") were the game's undoing. If anything, I feel that the cusp of the 16-bit era was perfect for implementing Neuromancer as a solipsistic, non-networked adventure game. Indeed, much of the history of the 16-bit era can be read as increasingly successful efforts to implement the vision of Neuromancer as a narrative experience rather than a labyrinthine multidimensional bulletin board. Read the rest