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Distrust That Particular Flavor

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,261 Ratings  ·  308 Reviews
William Gibson is known primarily as a novelist, with his work ranging from his groundbreaking first novel, Neuromancer, to his more recent contemporary bestsellers Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History. During those nearly thirty years, though, Gibson has been sought out by widely varying publications for his insights into contemporary culture. Wired magazi ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Feb 05, 2012 RandomAnthony rated it liked it
William Gibson's Distrust That Particular Flavor utilizes, ahem, prodigious white/grey space. While the pages number 254, approximately 75 of these are white/gray dividers between articles/speeches/book introductions. So assume the text runs maybe 150 small pages. Does that mean Mr. Gibson and Co. are trying to pull a fast one on completist readers? I don't think so. While Distrust That Particular Flavor is short and far from cohesive, the gathering of the author's best non-fiction in one compac ...more
Jan 23, 2012 Jenelle rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: emotional nerds, boys I crush on
I haven't had such an immediate, pressing desire to read a book in a long time, but from that NY Times Review, I knew this book nestled perfectly into my life-as-sci-fi imagination, esp. travel-as-time-travel. This is a collection of Gibson's published "nonfiction" essays, although he admits early he's uncomfortable relating anything as pure nonfiction, and each essay is footnoted by his present-day critique. Somehow I haven't read a single thing by Gibson before, and I wonder if I had this woul ...more
Ryan I
Feb 23, 2012 Ryan I rated it really liked it
Even if he wasn't a real-deal writer of the fictions, William Gibson's non-fiction stuff would be still be must-read. Most of the essays in "Distrust..." have the feel of being a behind-the-scenes look at how he forms the ideas that go into his books, but they still hold up on their own (which is good, because many originally ran in Rolling Stone, Wired, etc.)

But a constant theme of emerges in his writing, that's twinned with his fiction writing; it's Gibson wrapping his wild brain around how d
Jackie "the Librarian"
Aug 13, 2012 Jackie "the Librarian" rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
William Gibson likes Japan, big mechanical Swiss watches, eBay, and Steely Dan. Japan is still the future, in case you were wondering.
I mildly enjoyed this collection of book intros and magazine essays with their insights into why Japan seems like it's in the future already (a couple of hard shoves into the modern world after Commodore Perry and then WWII supercharged the culture), the addictiveness of bidding on eBay, and why Singapore is at once both super safe (too safe) and super scary.
Jun 30, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing
A collection of Gibson's nonfiction pieces, products of an attempt at a form with which he professes discomfort, as if he is just pretending to do nonfiction. Some of them are more trenchant than others, and many are slight at best, but all of them exhibit a deep love of language and fascination for the telling detail, which are the qualities that make his fiction so hypnotic. We have here travel pieces, commentary on tech, several on Asia (the one on Singapore is particularly unnerving), and a ...more
Linda Robinson
Jul 04, 2012 Linda Robinson rated it really liked it
The blurbs at the end of each of the essays in this book cumulatively convinced me that, yes, Gibson, as an essay writer, finds himself "thoroughly not that." We get a glimpse of Gibson's imagination at work and play in short forms about subjects he cares about. Like London. Tokyo. Singapore. Chateau Marmont. He doesn't understand why he was asked to write some of the essays and apparently struggles to believe he gave good value. But this paid excursion contributed to Pattern Recognition and tha ...more
Roy Kenagy
Oct 18, 2011 Roy Kenagy marked it as to-read

AVC: Your first collection of non-fiction, Distrust That Particular Flavor, comes out in January. Have you always wanted to write non-fiction?

WG: I’m a reluctant writer of non-fiction, in part because I don’t really feel qualified. I have the toolkit of a novelist, and no training as a journalist or science writer. But I’ve been surprised to realize how much of my fiction over the years has been steered by getting non-fiction assignments and agreeing to go meet someone or loo
I think very highly of William Gibson. I've been vastly entertained by three of his novels and can't wait to get my hands on more of his fiction. But this collection of non-fiction pieces, written over a span of several decades, is a disappointment, likely to be of interest only to diehard Gibson fans.

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing here to change my impression that Gibson is smart, and a fundamentally nice guy. But pieces like the 1993 essay about his impressions of Singapore for "Wired", o
Mar 20, 2016 J.M. rated it liked it
I dare you to find a quicker-reading non-fiction book. This took all of maybe four hours to read. As with (almost) any collection of essays it's hit or miss, and I especially liked the post-scripts for each one, in which Gibson often takes himself to task for caffeine-fueled rambling, or makes fun of his referencing 'AltaVista' in a pre-Google universe.

I will say this. It's William Gibson's world-- we're just living in it. I've heard this line so many times, but it happens to be true regarding t
Apr 29, 2012 Peter rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fic-tech
William Gibson is a sort of reluctant futurist. He wishes to write fiction, yet so much of it has, presumably against his wishes, turned out to be reality, or at lease a semblance of reality. He "creates" cyberspace on the page and shortly it exists, of a sort. Unlike many science fiction writers who attempt to predict the future, he seems to be a sort of future historian, seeing shadows of possibilities through a broken lens. Never an exact projection, but frighteningly close.

Reading this colle
Paul Gleason
Jul 06, 2012 Paul Gleason rated it liked it
This is a fun but, in all reality, unnecessary grab bag of William Gibson's nonfiction odds and sods. Most of it is fun and easy reading, mainly because Gibson's prose is such a joy to read. But many of the pieces are very dated. I guess this means that Gibson really is the prophet that many of his admirers claim him to be.

The bit on William Blake being the world's first graphic novelist is pretty great, as is the final essay on Vannever and cyborgs.

But the collection, as a whole, provides zero
Florin Pitea
Sep 03, 2015 Florin Pitea rated it it was ok
For a detailed review, please visit my blog:
Dec 31, 2015 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cool hunters and cyber-slackers
Recommended to Alan by: His fiction; Powell's Hawthorne; Roberta
The particular flavor we're supposed to distrust doesn't show up explicitly until very late in Distrust That Particular Flavor, William Gibson's brief but sparkling 2012 collection of essays. I will tell you what that flavor is, but hide it here in case you'd rather run across it in context: to paraphrase what Gibson says in "Time Machine Cuba," he distrusts (view spoiler) ...more
John Defrog
This is a collection of William Gibson’s non-fiction writing from 1989 to 2010 (including a few public talks), which covers many of the bases you’d expect (computers, technology, SF, the future, Tokyo, etc) and a few bases you might not (9/11, Jorge Luis Borges, a Steely Dan album review, Skip Spence’s jeans, etc). It also includes his 1993 infamous article about Singapore, “Disneyland With The Death Penalty”, which is now somewhat out of date and yet not entirely. It’s something of an oddball a ...more
Aug 31, 2015 Philipp rated it liked it
Shelves: essays
Non-fiction by one of the more famous names in recent SF (most famous for coining "cyberspace").

Some essays here feel a bit unnecessary, like the introductions to books I've never read, so they kind of hang there in empty space. Others are so dated that they're fun to read, but not much else ("have you heard of this thing called 'eBay'???"). The best ones are about the "Future" (with a capital F), the Future that he grew up believing in in the 50s to the 70s - the one with the jetpacks and the s
Douglas Gorney
Nov 28, 2014 Douglas Gorney rated it liked it
The disclaimer that this is only of interest to William Gibson fans is as necessary as a radioactivity warning sign deep within Los Alamos National Laboratory. Who else is going to pick it up?

That said, this volume of essays, reviews and talks stretching back to the late 80's is studded with the kind of sparkling, Gibsonian material you can use as a sigil, showing not simply that you are on the cutting edge, but that you are wielding the blade itself--well, no, that you are watching it, from a
Mar 21, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a non-fiction book of essays that is both similar and different to Gibson's novels. One can clearly see his writing style (and choice of subject matter) in each essay. It's different in that he's talking about personal experiences or observations rather than characters (and settings) in a novel.

The quality of each essay varies as they're all written at different times for different publications (or as a speech). With each essay he takes a look back on it and points out things that are f
Mar 29, 2012 Woowott rated it liked it
William Gibson's new book, which is basically a collection of articles from various magazines, anthology introductions, that kind of thing. Some are incredibly brief, a page or two at most; others are much longer. Appending each selection is a brief blurb about how Mr Gibson considers the article now, or some note about how or why it happened, or some pertinent anecdote. The end blurbs are all a bit interesting, just to see how he feels about things now, which is sometimes different, sometimes n ...more
Artur Coelho
Jan 29, 2012 Artur Coelho rated it really liked it
William Gibson é uma curiosa escolha para guru cultural. Influente escritor de Ficção Científica, é conhecido do grande público por ter cunhado o termo ciberespaço no romance Neuromancer, seminal para o género cyberpunk. Sendo um daqueles escritores que tem o dedo no pulso da época contemporânea, evoluiu estilisticamente para reflectir na sua obra os aspectos menos visíveis e potencialmente arrepiantes do admirável mundo novo acelerado pelo digital que tanto nos deslumbra. É esta a faceta que mo ...more
Chad Perrin
Sep 08, 2013 Chad Perrin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: singularity
In Distrust That Particular Flavor, William Gibson says that "reliance on broadcasting is the very definition of a technologically backward society."

Insightfully, he says this in The Road to Oceania, a 2003 article he wrote for the New York Times, reprinted in this book of articles and essays collected from various (nominally) nonfiction publications for which he has written over the years. It was insightful at the time in a very conventional sense in that, while reliance on broadcasting does no
Jul 20, 2012 Dianna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

With Necromancer William Gibson predicted the Internet and invented the term 'cyberspace' and for a long time he's had this mythical status as a technophobe author capable of technology prognostication. It must get very wearing. Gibson comes across as a genuine, intelligent and polite man, but one who is leery of making any wild claims or getting too caught up in predicting what 'connectedness' will eventually mean. I wished, at times, he'd taken more risks in his writing.

Much in this collectio

Fred Warren
Feb 05, 2013 Fred Warren rated it really liked it
William Gibson thinks a lot about the future, not so much in a predictive sense, but in terms of the impact of technological change—on culture in general and on individual human beings in particular. He sees patterns emerging everywhere, and many of his stories revolve around characters struggling to negotiate the leading-edge of some impending paradigm shift that nobody else sees coming. He’s one of the godfathers of cyberpunk, and one of my favorite science-fiction writers—he’s the mind behind ...more
Shonna Froebel
Nov 21, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
Gibson is widely known for his novels (which I haven't read!) but also has written a variety of pieces on different aspects of contemporary culture. He was born in the southern United States and moved to Canada as a young man. Having met and married a Canadian woman, he stayed and now lives in Vancouver. This comes up only briefly in the writings contained here.
This is a collection of articles, speeches, book reviews, and essays on culture, technology, urban life, and the relationships between o
William Thomas
William Gibson thinks very highly of himself, Angela told me as we listened to this audiobook on a drive in the suburbs. I think what she actually said was, "this guy is super into himself".

You can definitely get that impression from this collection, although the conclusion would be unjustified. The articles are more or less supposed to be about him- his experiences, his thoughts, his vision. So to make a judgment as such seems unwarranted when the non-fiction you are reading is supposed to be
Jan 13, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
William Gibson has said more than once that science fiction possesses a unique toolkit for dealing with our science fictional present. He said that again when I asked why mainstream writers are turning increasingly to science fiction during a question and answer session held during his New York City literary event for this very book. He could have offered similar advice to journalists with respect to their narrative nonfiction and journalistic reporting; “Distrust That Particular Flavor” makes a ...more
Jan 31, 2012 Ian rated it really liked it
Surprisingly hard to put down. I read this in the span of a day. In retrospect, it's actually kind of hard for me to remember too many individual characters from Gibson's novels, and this collection does a great job of highlighting why that is. He has a knack for describing cities, technologies, and cultural movements in a very convincing and interesting way (the characters are often just sort of there for the ride). His point about us not being more freaked out about the fact that we can view a ...more
Heather Clitheroe
Nov 18, 2015 Heather Clitheroe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-reads
Read the book all through China -- just the right thing to wile away flights. Finished it somewhere over the Bering Sea. I'd like to think Gibson would be pleased by that.
Jan 23, 2016 Jackmccullough rated it really liked it
You probably know William Gibson, right? The guy who invented cyberspace? This is the first time I've read any of his nonfiction, and to say that it is pretty much what you would expect to get if you reverse engineered the author from reading his novels, and then set that writer to writing nonfiction is not at all a knock on this.

In this collection Gibson elucidates some of his biggest themes, including technology, the structures and atmospheres of Japan, China, and other exotic (to us) locales,
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
May 27, 2015 Allan Dyen-Shapiro rated it really liked it
For those of us who have enjoyed William Gibson's science fiction, this is a book of essays he's published. Although there are some interesting insights, my favorites being explicatory of Japanese culture and how it developed post-Industrial Revolution, as well as that of Singapore and a few other places, this is mostly a book for those who like his fiction. You get a sense of his worldview. His last essay on how we are all cyborgs because the Internet has augmented minds in exactly the way Vann ...more
Aaron Bellamy
Apr 02, 2015 Aaron Bellamy added it
Shelves: essays
Reading Distrust That Particular Flavor by William Gibson felt like rummaging through a time capsule that needed a few more decades to transition between back issues of Wired that should have been thrown away, and treasures of wisdom and insight found at a used book store and bought at a steal. That's not to say there isn't some good stuff here, there is, but except for a few standouts, they mostly struck me as repetitive and anti-nostalgic. To defend myself, I'll reference one of the better ess ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian writer who has been called the father of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction, having coined the term cyberspace in 1982 and popularized it in his first novel, Neuromancer(1984), which has sold more than 6.5 million copies wor
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“Time moves in one direction, memory another. We are that strange species that constructs artifacts intended to counter the natural flow of forgetting.” 162 likes
“My first impulse, when presented with any spanking-new piece of computer hardware, is to imagine how it will look in ten years’ time, gathering dust under a card table in a thrift shop.” 9 likes
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