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Short fiction

*NOTE: Please refer to the mediagraphy for a complete listing of Gibson's short stories. ¶

Fragments of a Hologram Rose (1977)

This is William Gibson's first published story and is about a simstim technology called 'Apparent Sensory Perception' (ASP). The narrator, whose girlfriend Angela has just left him, finds two of her possessions in his room: a postcard with a hologram rose and an ASP tape. He shreds the postcard into a thousand fragments and watches the tape, which has been erased except for a short sequence of Angela's holiday in Greece. Afterwards, he muses about what it was like before being able to record and play back the full range of sensory perception of another person. He compares people with the fragments of the hologram, since every fragment shows the whole image from a different angle. ¶

8 pages ¶
© 1977 by UnEarth Publications ¶

The Belonging Kind (1981)

By John Shirley and William Gibson. Coretti frequently goes to bars but doesn't know how to dress and how to contact people. One day, he meets a beautiful woman in a bar and notices her ability to adapt to other people's style. He follows her to another place and sees her transform into another woman. She meets with a man, and they continue going to different bars while changing their look. He realizes that they are some kind advanced species who can transform into whatever form and create matter out of nothing. After a while, he quits his job and finally turns into one of the 'belonging kind'. ¶

 

17 pages ¶
© 1981 by John Shirley and William Gibson ¶
published in Shadows 4, 1981 ¶

The Gernsback Continuum (1981)

This story is about a photographer who is assigned by London artists to take pictures of 1930s and '40s style buildings in America. On his travels through America he starts seeing things from an imaginary future in that style. He also sees people inhabiting this world whom he is afraid of, because they look like the Nazi idea of a ‹bermensch. After finishing his job, he is glad that our world is not that perfect. ¶

 'Tomorrow Calling' TV film

14 pages ¶
© 1981 by Terry Carr ¶
published in Universe 11, 1981 ¶

Hinterlands (1981)

This story takes place in the not-so-distant future where humankind has gotten into contact with an alien civilisation. But the only way to reach them is to drop a single astronaut in a spaceship at specified coordinates in space and wait if he is taken away by their superior power. Returning spacemen usually carry some advanced knowledge, like the cure for cancer with them, but they always go insane and commit suicide. Toby Halpert works in a space station called Heaven where arriving spaceships are taken to. Toby meets arriving astronauts and tries to cure their insanity, but so far it never works out. When he finds the latest arrival inside of her spaceship, he realizes that she already killed herself with a surgical machine. She left some ballpoint paintings which reveal new molecular structures. In the end we learn that Toby had been on such a mission but was refused by the aliens, which is why he still feels connected to the whole thing. ¶

 Hinterlands comic

23 pages ¶
© by Omni Publications International Ltd. 1981 ¶

Johnny Mnemonic (1981)

Gibson's short story 'Johnny Mnemonic' contains many ideas he used in his later Sprawl novels. The story is about Johnny who is a data courier, which means he carries important data in his head. As he meets his employer Ralfi to get rid of this apparently dangerous data Ralfi is killed by a Yakuza assassin. Johnny manages to get away with the help of the heavily modified Molly Millions (who appears later in 'Neuromancer' and 'Mona Lisa Overdrive'). One of Molly's friends, a military cyborg dolphin with sophisticated communications equipment is able to retrieve the code for accessing Johnny's data. Johnny and Molly are confronted with the Yakuza assassin after climbing on the upper levels of Nighttown. Molly manages to kill the assassin on the 'Killing Floor', a weavework of steel cable miked and amplified on a synthesizer. Afterwards, Johnny makes his living with retrieving the data he'd carried before. ¶

 Characters
 Glossary
 Adaptations

 Movie information

31 pages ¶
© by Omni Publications International Ltd. 1981 ¶

Burning Chrome (1982)

Automatic Jack and Bobby Quine are console cowboys and have been partners for a long time. Because of his new girlfriend Rikki, Bobby wants to start a big run to get rich. He plans to burn the 'House of the Blue Lights' which belongs to Chrome, a hi-tech whore with immense influence. They carefully plan the run and manage to crack Chrome's ice with a Russian icebreaker that Jack bought from the Finn. As they intercept an hourly transaction to a comsat, they can access Chrome's account and put all the money through to a fence. In the meantime, Rikki bought Zeiss Ikon eyes and leaves for Chiba City to become a simstim star. Jack learns that Rikki earned the money working in the 'House of the Blue Lights', where the prostitutes are put into REM sleep during work. ¶

 Characters
 Glossary



 Stage adaptation

26 pages ¶
© by Omni Publications International Ltd. 1982 ¶

Red Star, Winter Orbit (1983)

By Bruce Sterling and William Gibson. This story takes places on a Soviet space station in the middle of the 21st century. The Soviets are the only power in space since the Americans have given up their space program. As the space station Kosmograd is about to be shut down, the remaining astronauts decide to flee in escape pods and publish what the Russians plan. As all but the old Korolev have left, he is joined by American families who decided to live on the space station and came up with their sun balloons. ¶

 

25 pages ¶
© by Omni Publications International Ltd. 1983 ¶

New Rose Hotel (1984)

The anonymous narrator tells about the corporate defection of Hiroshi, a very talented genetic engineer who works for Maas Biolabs GmbH in Frankfurt. The protagonist and his partner Fox cut a deal with Hosaka corporation to deliver them Hiroshi. They contact Hiroshi via Sandii, the narrator's latest affair, who prepares the defection in Vienna. Hiroshi disappears in Berlin and is flown to a Hosaka lab in Marrakech. During the next few days, Hosaka's leading engineers are flown to Marrakech to learn from Hiroshi, but then they all die from a virus that was created by a DNA sequencer modified by Sandii. In Vienna, she defected to Maas Biolabs and programmed their virus. Hosaka kills Fox and hunts the protagonist, who hides in 'New Rose Hotel' near Narita International Airport and reflects about his lost love Sandii. ¶

 Movie information

16 pages ¶
© by Omni Publications International Ltd. 1984 ¶

Dogfight (1985)

By Michael Swanwick and William Gibson. The story is about a no-future guy named Deke who comes to a town in Virginia. In an arcade he watches a game called 'Spads & Fokkers' which is played with miniature planes created by the mind. From then on he is obsessed by the game and does anything to play against Tiny, a war veteran in a wheelchair. During the war, he got addicted by a drug called hype which was used by the military to provide extra concentration. Deke starts practicing and gets his equipment augmented by Nance, a girl who he meets at his highstack. 17-year old Nance is a student and works on some holographic projections with ultramodern equipment, but her parents provided her with a chastity brainlock which makes it impossible for her to be touched by someone. She manages to get two hits of hype for her presentation, but Deke steals it from her by sexually abusing her. With the hype he is able to win against Tiny, but after his victory Tiny has a breakdown and Deke realizes that there is nobody left to talk to. ¶

 

28 pages ¶
© by Omni Publications International Ltd. 1985 ¶

The Winter Market (1985)

Casey is an editor for a kind of simstim called fast-wipe. His friend Rubin is a famous artist who makes art out of gomi (trash). On one of Rubin's parties Casey comes to know Lise. Lise has a severe disease which forces her to wear an exoskeleton and causes much pain so she is also addicted to a drug called wizz. Lise's extraordinary dreams are recorded and edited by Casey and published under the title 'Kings of Sleep'. This tape becomes very famous and makes both of them rich, and Lise decides to merge with the net and have a ROM construct of her personality built. She also wants Casey to cut her next film. ¶

 

27 pages ¶
© 1985 by William Gibson ¶
originally published in Stardate 1986 ¶

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