cover photo by Morgan Russell
We were working on our first Mondo 2000 issue. It was going to be the cyberpunk theme issue and we’d gotten interviews with the major cyberpunk SF writers, except William Gibson. Gibson’s management wouldn’t put us in touch with him. And then we heard that he was coming to the Bay Area and we turned up the heat, but his press agent had him set up for interviews with major outlets only and we were nobody and it was just a brick wall. So somehow, publisher Queen Mu wound up on the phone with Timothy Leary complaining about this and Leary offered to let us transcribe a tape of him and Gibson in conversation about ideas for the game spinoff that would accompany the release of the film of Neuromancer — all of this being planned then — back in 1989 (actually, plans began in ’86). Leary was going to lead the development of the game… at least conceptually. (Well, it was all conceptual, ultimately.)
So, the next day, we all showed up at a Gibson appearance in Berkeley radiating some kind of weird intense energy and Gibson was drinking warm beers and glancing nervously over at us while he signed books. We probably looked to him like some weird cult preparing a kidnapping. And after the line of autograph seekers cleared out, MONDO Domineditrix Queen Mu strolled up with this insane bezoomny rictus grin that she has and told him that we were running this interview that Leary had done with him. And he literally held the side of the desk like waves were making him seasick and shouted, “That was no interview! That was a drunken business meeting!”
The article ran and Gibson eventually became friendly. This edit from the tape features Leary and Gibson talking about the characteristics of Case (from Neuromancer) and then they go on to talk about William Burroughs. I recommend listening through headphones. Some of the voices are very quiet. There is also at least one other male voice that you’ll hear and that would be someone from Cabana Boy, the production company that had the rights to the Neuromancer film at the time. If you hear a female voice, that would be Barbara Leary, who was Timothy’s wife at that time.
I interviewed Gibson a few years ago for the MONDO 2000 History Project and he had this to say about his vague recollection: “I dimly remember being annoyed that that was going to be published. Mainly because I hadn’t been asked, I imagine.”