Gibson, William

Gibson, William
▪ 2009

      American playwright

born Nov. 13, 1914, Bronx, N.Y.

died Nov. 25, 2008, Stockbridge, Mass.
won instant acclaim for his play The Miracle Worker (1959), which was based on the life of Helen Keller, a deaf and blind child whose determined teacher, Annie Sullivan, taught her to communicate by using sign language. Though Gibson occasionally penned narrative fiction, he focused much of his 70-year career on writing plays. After creating such modest theatrical hits as A Cry of Players (1948) and Two for the Seesaw (1958), Gibson scored with The Miracle Worker. The original playscript, created as a teleplay, was significantly reworked for the stage. The Miracle Worker opened on Broadway on Oct. 19, 1959. It ran 719 performances and received four Tony Awards, including one for best play. Gibson's screenplay for the 1962 film adaptation received an Oscar nomination. Though his later works never received the same level of praise, plays such as Golda (1977) and Golda's Balcony (2003) were well received.

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▪ American author
in full  William Ford Gibson 
born March 17, 1948, Conway, South Carolina, U.S.

      American-Canadian writer of science fiction who was the leader of the genre's “cyberpunk” (cyberpunk) movement.

      Gibson grew up in southwestern Virginia. After dropping out of high school in 1967, he traveled to Canada and eventually settled there, earning a B.A. (1977) from the University of British Columbia. Many of Gibson's early stories, including Johnny Mnemonic (1981; filmed 1995) and Burning Chrome (1982), were published in Omni magazine. With the publication of his first novel, Neuromancer (1984), Gibson emerged as a leading exponent of cyberpunk, a new school of science-fiction writing. Cyberpunk combines a cynical, tough “punk” sensibility with futuristic cybernetic (cybernetics) (i.e., having to do with communication and control theory) technology. Gibson's creation of “cyberspace,” a computer-simulated reality that shows the nature of information, foreshadowed virtual reality technology and is considered the author's major contribution to the genre.

      Neuromancer, which won three major science-fiction awards (Nebula, Hugo, and Philip K. Dick), established Gibson's reputation. Its protagonist is a 22nd-century data thief who fights against the domination of a corporate-controlled society by breaking through the global computer network's cyberspace matrix. Count Zero (1986) was set in the same world as Neuromancer but seven years later. The characters of Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988) can “die” into computers, where they may support or sabotage outer reality. After collaborating with writer Bruce Sterling (Sterling, Bruce) on The Difference Engine (1990), a story set in Victorian England, Gibson returned to the subject of cyberspace in Virtual Light (1993). His Idoru (1996), set in 21st-century Tokyo, focuses on the media and virtual celebrities of the future. All Tomorrow's Parties (1999) concerns a clairvoyant cyberpunk who labours to keep a villain from dominating the world. Pattern Recognition (2003) follows a marketing consultant who is hired to track down the origins of a mysterious Internet video. In Spook Country (2007), characters navigate a world filled with spies, ghosts, and other nefarious unseen agents.

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Universalium. 2010.

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