July 4th, 2005



Way back when I was much younger, I happened across a short-story -- "The Gernsback Continuum" -- in the back of a random science magazine. Possibly Science 89, which changed its name each year, and is not to be confused with the respected journal Science; in any case, some unheralded science magazine that had reprinted it.

On some level, that short story affected quite a lot of how I've thought about science fiction. I had the cultural pieces of art-deco Gernsbackian scientifiction, and as a barely-teenaged boy I found it quite fascinating. Flying wings with 12 engines? Scores of tiny one-person cars hovering over ten-lane highways? Streamlined cities with streams of flying taxis? It was all about the sense of wonder, and I found it wondrous, but I didn't actually know much of it. And so this story looms large in my conceptions of that whole genre -- perhaps larger in memory than in reality; I found an online copy just now, and even discounting the really bad editing that's probably to be expected in unauthorized online versions, I don't know that it quite lives up to my recollections. But, even so, it introduced the idea to me that there were other people who thought that 12-engine flying wings with onboard ballrooms were really neat, despite the impossibility.

Anyhow, I just randomly discovered that it was written by William Gibson.

I'm not quite sure what to make of that.