Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cyberpunk Comes To Jaffa

Today was the sort of beautiful, sunny, warmish day that typically follows a couple of days of Tel Aviv winter rains. My intention was to finsh the three blog posts whose drafts are cluttering up my hard drive. But Liz was on the computer and the day looked great, so I took William Gibson's Spook Country off the shelf and headed out, south along the Tayelet, toward Jaffa. Gibson is generally credited with being one of the founders of a style known as cyberpunk or Techno Geek. His Neuromancer and similar works inspired virtual reality classics like The Matrix. Of course, when Gibson first began writing the internet was the province of PhDs and you had to know Geek Speakto make a computer do anything interesting. In other words, for most of us, Gibson's speculative fiction was just that. Today, your Mother has an iPod and a GPS. You can run down to Best Buy or go on eBay and buy any of the high tech toys his characters use. In fact, you probably already own most of them. This left Gibson with a problem similar to that faced by John LeCarre when the cold war ended. How do you keep your work cutting edge when the context for your fiction has just become yesterday's newspaper?

Fortunately for Gibson and LeCarre (and for those of us who like to sit in the sun and read their novels), there are always people of ill will getting away with bad deeds by using the most recently available tools. LeCarre shifted his focus to Russian mobsters and East African warlords and barely skipped a beat. Gibson has simply moved his artists, detectives, road warriors, spies and venture capitalists from the virtual world to the real world.

So there I sat on a bench, right on the border between one of the oldest cities on the planet and a city modern enough to make it into a William Gibson book, occasionally looking up from the book at the calm, aquamarine sea, eating my sambusak from Abulafia's (the great Arab bakery near the Jaffa Clock Tower and watching people go by. (If the young woman in the two piece jogging outfit is reading this -- thank you.)

Eventually I had to close Gibson, get into a cab and go get my ICD checked (my battery is fine, my A-Fib gurgles along as always). Tonight Liz, who is feeling better, decided to cook chicken fricassee, which was delicious as always. Tomorrow I'll take another run at the three blog posts I'm supposed to be working on. Or go sit by the beach and read. We'll see.

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