Two Things (Gibson TTS and Fictional Memory Palaces)

November 25, 2010

BBC7 is currently doing Gibson’s Pattern Recognition as this week’s Sci-Fi serial. If you’re in the UK you can listen via iPlayer.

It’s being read by Lorelei King, “one of the most successful and accomplished American actresses working in the UK today.” She’s good at voices but (and, Lorelei, this is no criticism if you’re idly googling yourself) her standard one has a strange, disembodied quality, which makes it sound like Text-to-Speech.

As David pointed out, it feels like there should be a choice for voices for a text like this, and there’s some assemblage possible via Mechanical Turk. (And yes, the Bigend impersonation is bonkers.)

It’s all oddly appropriate for Gibson though, an experience mightily enhanced by walking around the city while you listen to it.

And talking about Gibson reminds me of something I didn’t mention before about the last book, Zero History: how all my friends, without planning it, read it at pretty much the same time. We didn’t talk about it explicitly—not much anyway—but for a couple of weeks we all inhabited the same fictional space, which leaked out around us in a constant, low-level hum of Bigend references, fictional brands, and in-jokes.

It was fun, and good. Perhaps, this is what Invisible Book Club is.

If you play a lot of video games, or a lot of a video game, you slowly learn the map, it stays in your head. It doesn’t exist, it’s an imaginary place, but you can find your way around in it, even give directions within it.

A shared fiction is like a shared map, a space we can inhabit, a shared memory palace, even for a brief period.

(Also: Gibson used the phrase “post-geographic” in Pattern Recognition back in 2003. That is all.)

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