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Distrust That Particular Flavor

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  1,700 ratings  ·  261 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
272 pages
Published January 3rd 2012 by Putnam Adult
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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 4 of 5 stars
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
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...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
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.
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
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...more
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...more
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...more
Paul Gleason
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...more
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...more
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
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
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...more

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
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
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...more
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...more
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
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
Doug Clark
I recently finished Distrust that Particular Flavor by William Gibson. This is a collection of essays, introductions, talks, magazine articles, etc. that Gibson has written or given over the last 20 years. Gibson is probably best known for his 1984 novel, Neuromancer, which launched the cyperpunk genre in science-fiction. Neuromancer was awarded the Nebula, Hugo, and Philip K. Dick Awards. Cyberpunk deals with the near future and involves high tech computers and communication against a backgroun...more
Distrust That Particular Flavour is a collection of non-fiction pieces by William Gibson, published between the late 1980s and the modern day. I read them bit by bit while reading other books, because while Gibson’s a good writer, his style and choice of topics can easily be repetitive.

There are a number of excellent articles in here. “Disneyland With The Death Penalty” is easily the most famous, a scathing critique of Singapore he wrote for Wired in the early 1990s, which then got Wired banned...more
Charlie Byers
As an essay collection, this is hit-or-miss, but through a handful of end notes, I think Gibson turns it into more of a guided tour of his non-fiction writing, and it ends up being a really enjoyable read. Some thought-provoking discussion about tech and culture, as you'd expect, but it also includes some nice writing about writing, and about history. By the skin of its teeth, this book is more than an anthology of spare parts.
Oct 10, 2013 Kate added it
On audio. Unfinished. Two things:

1. I bet if you actually read Gibson's novels, which I never have, this collection wouldn't seem so baffling and cold-blooded.
2. Sometimes I check things out just because I like the title.
This was a fun read - like reading an issue of the New Yorker that contains articles you're really interested in.
Gibson's non-fiction is less taut than his prose. The compilation itself is also sort of lazily put together; late in the book one piece substantially repeats a previous piece, for instance. As always, though, there are things that are worthwhile. The last essay, "Googling the Cyborg," is a stand out.

There are also delightful moments and notes throughout. Gibson has such a tremendous talent for identifying and putting to words cultural moments. He's just better at it in fiction.

(Indeed, several...more
i loved this collection of essays. so much so that i immediately read it again. it made me think about life, the universe and everything. it led me to other books. it made me want to go to tokyo immediately. in short, it was great - i wished i'd read the articles along the way as they appeared in various magazines, but i'm so glad they're collected in one place.

many thoughts and reactions are still tumbling in my head and i still haven't synthesized them all.

but in the meantime, i wanted to sha...more
Incredibly interesting collection of essays. Just really great stuff! In his musings on cyberspace or whatever, William Gibson comes off very honest and real. It's always a pleasure reading an author's thoughts on his or her work and more broadly what their work is about too. Gibson seems to cover so much in his snap-shot essays. My favorite essays were "Will We Have Computer Chips In Our Heads?" and "The Road to Oceania." His essays discussing online watch buying and the "Body" were equally gre...more
This book I will be re-reading many times. As much as Mr Gibson is self depricating about his ability to write in a non-fiction sense. His insight and perspective is sharp, funny and insightful. He comes across as a friendly guide at times, one that likes to poke your mind occasionally to look beyond the shiny surfaces of the future, or futurism for the cracks, grime and underpinning structure that a future is built on but doesn't always erase.
Reading this has made me want to re-read his catalog...more
David Tejera
Grande, aunque no deja de ser una recopilación de artículos que han ido apareciendo en todo tipo de publicaciones a lo largo de las dos últimas décadas.

Siempre me ha gustado la forma de pensar que tiene Gibson, ya me encandiló hace un par de años cuando vi por primera vez "No Maps for These Territories". La manera que tiene de desgranar el presente y el futuro más próximo es algo que no he visto en otros. No es académico de nada, y lo sabe, ni siquiera se puede decir que sea un tío demasiado af...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...more
More about William Gibson...
Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1) Pattern Recognition (Blue Ant, #1) Count Zero (Sprawl, #2) Burning Chrome Mona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl, #3)

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