The Original “Matrix”

William Gibson. Dear Wachowski Bros: "Who's your daddy?"

If an artist has a pedigree, Gibson is surely the Wachowski Brothers’ grandfather.

Just finished reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer, the origin of the both the term “matrix” as it is used in The Matrix, and the word “cyberspace” as it is used in real life. (In fact, it may have well had a hand in the actual creation of the World Wide Web as we know it, as author Jack Womack suggests in the afterward of the novel: “what if the act of writing it down, in fact, brought it about?”).

I love Austin Kleon’s concept of an artist’s “family tree” as set forth in his eye-opeing book Steal Like an Artist. Surely Masamune Shirow, creator of Ghost in the Shell, can be considered a father by way of influence to the Wachowskis. And, in turn, Gibson was father to Masamune. Many of the concepts from Neuromancer trickle down to The Matrix by way of Ghost in the Shell. (Also see my previous article, Popular Fiction as High Art, which further explores influences on The Matrix.)

From the pages of Neuromancer:

The matrix has its roots in primitive arcade games. … Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination
experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts. … A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.

Pretty impressive, especially considering the fact that Gibson wrote that in 1983! In my mind, it surpasses impressive and reaches into the realm of being prophetic.

Even more amazing is the fact that Neuromancer was the first novel that Gibson ever wrote, and he was given a deadline of 12 months to write it. He said he felt at the time that he was 4 or 5 years off from being prepared to write a full-length novel. He also said he felt like once Neuromancer was published, for sure he would be the laughing stock of the industry. (See the aforementioned afterward by Jack Womack.) Much to the contrary, he ended up being the first winner of the science-fiction “triple crown” — the Nebula Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and the Hugo Award!

Well, I pretty much have no excuses now! If a first time novel-writer can win the three most prestigious sci-fi awards, I can’t make up any excuses about not being prepared to write a novel. I’m not saying I’m going to win any awards…I’m just saying NO EXCUSES DANIEL!!!!

Often in life, regardless of how prepared we think we may be, when we are thrown into the crucible and forced to perform, that’s when we grow and develop and accomplish our greatest work. Do you have something you’ve wanted to do for years but put off? Don’t have a bucket list. Have a DO IT NOW list. Bucket lists are for pansies. Just the name “bucket list” for me implies procrastination. It’s just something I have to do before I die. I’ve got all the time in the world, right? Wrong. Any of us could die tomorrow, so instead of procrastinating, start living your life now. So please, stop reading this blog and go and do what you are on this earth to do!

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