New Science Fiction Grand Master : William Gibson

He hadn’t been on my short list of people I expected to become Grand Masters, but I can’t say he didn’t have a huge impact on SF in the 1980s and beyond.

Still waiting to see Vernor Vinge on the list.

Completely appropriate for, if nothing else, the way he melded cyberpunk and SF themes into realistic fiction, as in the Bigend trilogy and works like The Peripheral. We wouldn’t have writers like Charles Stross and Neil Stephenson, IMHO, without Gibson. I’ve had my copy of Agency on order since February of last year.

Why not? He is probably one of the most influential SF writers still living. Not only is modern SF based largely on ideas from his books, the modern real world is, too. Everyday terminology comes straight from his writing.

Just because in my mind, he seems like a “younger” writer, who would become a Grand Master a little bit later. This is probably a reflection of my own age (people who made their big break when I was in college can’t be Grand Masters yet, dangnabit).

More on that–it really struck me how in his earliest books set in a medium future, his characters would talk about cyberspace which was a science fiction term, and in his later books set in a near future, his characters would talk about cyberspace which was a real general-use term really used in the contemporary world. Few writers have that happen, their early-career work influencing the culture enough that it becomes part of the “background” in later works. (Other examples I can think of are Isaac Asimov and Stephen King.)

For the record, he’s 70.

As I should have checked. Well within the usual age range for being named Grand Master. I withdraw my instinctive response. Next year, how about Brin, Joan or Vernor Vinge?

True but I understand what Andy L is saying. William Gibson feels to me like a current writer not a Grandmaster, even though I know he’s been writing for forty years. My rule of thumb is that nobody should be called a Grandmaster unless I was reading the work when I was a kid.

This totally fucking rocks! While I haven’t liked everything he’s written, his influence on not just SF lit but movies and even real life tech is undeniable and enormous.

Congratulations, Mr. Gibson!

I should read more of his recent stuff (I read the “Blue Ant” trilogy and liked it, but haven’t gotten to “The Peripheral” yet).

I just checked and Gibson’s name isn’t in the SFWA member database. Admittedly, this is the same organization that doesn’t have the news about the Grand Master announcement on its front page, which stops on December 31. But I was certain that Grand Masters had to be SFWA members, not just major writers. The rules got rewritten when SFWA reincorporated in California a few years ago, so that rule might have been stricken. SFWA being SFWA I can’t find any information about the Grand Master anywhere on the website.

Anyway, If Gibson is getting named that opens up a whole generation that came along with him. Bruce Sterling, Kim Stanley Robinson, Gregory Benford, David Brin, Greg Bear, George R. R. Martin, Michael Bishop, Michael Swanwick, James Patrick Kelly, Nancy Kress, just to pluck names off the Nebula ballots for the mid-80s. (I’m positive you have to be living at the time of announcement; that definitely used to be true. So that knocks out several possibilities.) Robinson is the youngest of them, I think, and he’s going to be 65 this year, so they all would pass the unofficial minimum of 65 for consideration.

Brin would get my vote for the next one.

Gotta agree with that. Bring’s stuff is astonishing, even today.

That was my first reaction.

Then I realized that Neuromancer came out 35 years ago.

And that Heinlein was named Grand Master 35 years after his first published story.

Gibson is very deserving.

The only requirement for a Grand Master is that they are living at the time of the announcement (originally, at the time the award was given out, but Alfred Bester died before then and it would have been churlish not to give it to him). I’ve been involved in the process. IIRC, when we gave it to Ursula LeGuin, she wasn’t a SFWA member (nor did she come to the banquet to receive the award: she had already had non-refundable tickets to a cruise).

The process is simple: SFWA’s president nominates someone and the SFWA Board approves. Theoretically, they can vote down the nomination, but I doubt that ever happened.

Thanks! A lot of big names have come into range and I can see any of the ones you list as a 2020 Grand Master pick. Benford just got the Robert Heinlein award by the way Gregory Benford Wins 2019 Robert A. Heinlein Award | File 770


Gibson may be the most recognizable name to the mainstream world, the way Clarke was in the early 1950s. Whenever you create a genre an award should automatically follow. To be honest, though, I haven’t been able to get into his recent work. Too distant.

Gibson’s first published story was in UnEarth #3 in 1977. That’s 42 years, pretty average for picks in this century. UnEarth was a magazine for first stories. That issue also had stories from James Blaylock, Richard Bowker, and Somtow Sucharitkul. A landmark.

I guess my memory is faulty. Like that’s news these days.:smack:

Five years ago, I wrote that we stood at the same distance from Neuromancer as it had stood from Fahrenheit 451.

I love the internet, where we can casually interact with our favorite authors and mock their clothing.

Reminds me of “Back to the Future” - in the 1950s, everyone thought Marty’s jacket was a lifejacket.