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G Entries
Frederic Gadette
Beverly Garland
Fred Gebhardt
William Gibson
Jeff Goldblum
Jerry Goldsmith
Bernard Gordon
Bert I. Gordon
Peter Graves
Lorne Greene
Sir Alec Guinness
 
GIBSON, WILLIAM
(1948– ). Canadian author.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Wrote: Johnny Mnemonic (based on his story) (Robert LONGO 1995); "The Kill Switch" (with Tom Maddox) (1998), "First Person Shooter" (with Tom Maddox) (2000), episodes of The X-Files.

Appeared in: "Everything Must Go" (1993), episode of Wild Palms; episode of TechnoPolitics (1993); Mon Amour Mon Parapluie (short) (Giada Dobrzenska 2001); "Bestseller Samtalen—William Gibson" (2003), episode of Bestseller; episode of The Screen Savers (2003); episode of Webnation (2007); "William Gibson" (2010), episode of A Window Looking In.

Appeared in documentaries: Yorkville: Hippie Haven (tv documentary) (1967); Decade: 1980-1989 (1989); Cyberpunk (1990); Brave New Worlds: The Science Fiction Phenomenon (Paul Oremland 1993); The Making of Johnny Mnemonic (1995); Rebels: A Journey Underground/Welcome to Cyberia (1998); The Sci-Fi Files, 4: Living in the Future (1998); The X-Files Movie Special (Thomas C. Grane 1998); No Maps for These Territories (Mark Neale 2000); Cyberman (Peter Lynch 2002); Almost Real: Connecting in a Wired World (Ann Shin 2002); "Keanu Reeves" (2007), episode of Filmography.

Films based on his work: Neuromancer: A Cyberpunk Role-Playing Adventure (computer game) (1988); Tomorrow Calling (tv short) (Tim Leandro 1993); Johnny Mnemonic: The Interactive Action Movie (computer game) (Douglas Gayeton 1995); New Rose Hotel (Abel Ferrara 1998).

 
There would be more to say about William Gibson if this happened to be The Biographical Encyclopedia of Unproduced Science Fiction Screenplays—but of course, that would also be true for almost all contemporary screenwriters, who trade generous salaries for endless cycles of fruitless labor on scripts that either never reach the screen or are transformed beyond recognition by the time filming begins. Because Gibson also happens to be a famous science fiction novelist, however, the full extent of both his public and private work is unusually well documented.

When Gibson came to Hollywood in the late 1980s, he seemed ideally positioned to become a successful screenwriter. In addition to his demonstrated skills in crafting involving plots and conveying them in memorable prose, he also had long experience as an artist, having contributed many cartoons to science fiction fanzines, so he could bring a strong visual sense to creating stories on film. And, having tired of writing stories set in the future world of his spectacular debut novel, Neuromancer, and not sure about what he should write next, Gibson needed someone who could tell him what to do—and in Hollywood, there is never any shortage of that.

Gibson's first screenwriting credit might have been an episode of Max Headroom (1987-1988), but that quirky series was cancelled before he could get involved. He then landed a more prestigious assignment—to write the third Alien film—and the edited version of his screenplay now available online proved an unremarkable but credible piece of work. Unfortunately, the story he was given to execute did not feature the franchise's iconic centerpiece, Ellen Ripley, because Sigourney WEAVER had announced she was not interested in coming back; when she changed her mind, an entirely new story and screenplay had to be devised, but Gibson declined the opportunity to keep working on the project. Instead, he kept busy by writing eight or ten other screenplays based on some of his own stories, including "New Rose Hotel," though the film version that would eventually emerge did not employ a Gibson screenplay. Discreetly, Gibson has said little about his personal experiences in Hollywood, though according to fan writer David Langford, he once "muttered" that "meeting a producer, he knew exactly how a virus felt when it met with its own specific antibody"—suggesting that the encounter was far from enjoyable.

Finally, a miracle occurred, as an adaptation of his story "Johnny Mnemonic" was greenlighted for production and an accommodating director—Gibson's friend, artist Robert LONGO—was assigned to direct. Gibson's screenplay, published when the movie was released, displays his keen awareness of the requirements of contemporary filmmaking, as he added a new character to the story, the assassin Street Preacher, to ratchet up the violence, and he improved his story's McGuffin by making the sought-after data in Johnny's head the cure for a debilitating disease that is endemic in Gibson's dark future; he also added a touch of cyberspace to the story for all of the long-suffering fans patiently waiting for the film version of Neuromancer, now entering its twenty-eighth year in development hell. (Sure, the Internet Movie Database says it's going to come out in 2014, but I'll believe it when I see it.) Unfortunately, even a brilliant script needs a talented lead performer to bring it to life, and the perpetually inert Keanu REEVES most definitely did not fit the bill; further, the film was artlessly recut by nervous producers to additionally dampen the limited emotional impact of any film being carried by Reeves. It's still a decent film, but the Japanese cut is better, and what Gibson wrote and Longo directed would have been better still.

Escaping from Hollywood to again focus on writing novels, Gibson was lured back into screenwriting when he ran into the producer of The X-Files, Chris Carter, who recruited him to write for the series; this time, however, he took on a collaborator, Tom Maddox, and it is Gibson's usual habit to let his collaborators do most of the work, making the results less interesting than the projects he completes by himself. By far the best of the two episodes they scripted was the first, "Kill Switch," which invites consideration as the first adaptation of Neuromancer, its story warped to fit into the format of a present-day television series. But it is also a story about an artificial intelligence struggling to become a self-aware, independent agent in cyberspace, both aided and opposed by various human operatives, and it includes a nice sequence featuring David DUCHOVNY's Mulder trapped in a nightmarish but computer-generated hospital. However, their second script, "First Person Shooter," is all sound and fury signifying nothing, with a colorful, violent story about virtual-reality gaming that never manages to make any sense.

Gibson indicates that he was preparing to write a script for another Carter series, Harsh Realm, but when that series died as well, he instead went to work on the novel that would be published in 2003 as Pattern Recognition, finally landing him on the best-seller lists and seemingly ensuring that he would never again have to endure the humiliation of writing for the screen. Rather, it seemed, he would be limiting himself to appearances on talk shows and documentaries, most memorably No Maps for These Territories, a feature-length documentary consisting entirely of footage of Gibson in thoughtful conversation as he is driven through various neighborhoods. But the lure of Tinseltown must be strong, for Gibson reported via Twitter in late 2011 that he had just completed a "spec script," hoping that it would soon be produced. And this conclusively demonstrates that, despite reports to the contrary, William Gibson is actually a very optimistic writer.

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