Additional Print Resources


Brande, David. “The Business of Cyberpunk: Symbolic Economy and Ideology in William Gibson.” Virtual realities and their discontents. Ed. Robert Markley. Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins UP, 1996.

Brummett, Barry. The world and how we describe it: rhetorics of reality, representation, simulation. Westport: Praeger, 2003. Includes a chapter on “A rhetoric of reality in the novels of William Gibson.”

Bukatman, Scott. “Gibson’s typewriter.” Flame wars: the discourse by cyberculture. Ed. Mark Dery. Durham: Duke UP, 1994.

Calcutt, Andrew and Shephard, Richard. Cult fiction: a reader’s guide. Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary Books, 1999. Includes a section on Gibson.

Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century English Literature. “Agrippa: A Book of the Dead (Gibson).” Ed. Laura Marcus and Peter Nicholls. New York: Cambridge UP, 2004. pp. 794-5.

Cavallaro, Dani. Cyberpunk and cyberculture : science fiction and the work of William Gibson. London: Athlone Press, 2000.

Kneale, James. “Thinking and writing the virtual: the virtual realities of technology and fiction : reading William Gibson’s cyberspace.” Virtual geographies : bodies, space, and relations. Ed. Mike Crang, Phil Crang, and Jon May. New York: Routledge, 1999

Leary, Timothy Francis. Chaos & cyber culture. Ed. Michael Horowitz, Vicki Marshall, with guest appearances by William Gibson …et al. Berkeley: Ronin Pub., 1994. Includes “William Gibson: Quark of the Decade.”

Lunenfeld, Peter. Snap to Grid. A User’s Guide to Digital Arts, Media, and Cultures. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. (2000)

Rapatzikou, Tatiani G. Gothic motifs in the fiction of William Gibson. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2004.

Roberts, Adam. Science fiction. London: Routledge, 2000. Has a chapter entitled “Technology and metaphor. Spaceships. Robots. Cyberspace. Case study: William Gibson, Neuromancer.” (Perhaps not close enough to our topic to warrant inclusion. )

Sponsler, Claire. “William Gibson and the Death of Cyberpunk.” Modes of the fantastic : selected essays from the twelfth International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts. Ed. Robert A. Latham and Robert A. Collins. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1995.

Side Note: While some of these books/articles clearly deal directly with Agrippa, some may be off topic. All apparently contain bibliographies that may be of value. I will track down, refine, and annotate these entries when I return to the U.S.

Additional Academic Resources


“Toward a Post-Critical Theory of Hypertext”
by John E. McEneaney, Indiana Univ. South Bend

Discusses Agrippa in terms of an unconventional theory of hypertext that regards traditional print as more “hypertextual” than electronic text formats: “on-line help systems, text-based diagnostic systems, and hypertext fiction [which] typically involve either a central axis of organization, a hierarchical structure, or both.”

“[Agrippa’s] electronic medium serves not only to enforce the linearity of the text, but even takes the linearity two steps further by making it both directional and temporal–Agrippa is a one-way trip and there’s no way back!”

“A Tale of Three Futurists”
By Alex Lowenthal, Univ. Hawaii

Includes a biography of Gibson with a description of Agrippa.

“In Agrippa, Gibson weaves together the ancient art of bookmaking and
the cold touch of modern binary encryption code technology with New York artist Dennis Ashbaugh. It is an elaborately conceived marriage of antique bookcraft and modern computer technology that may alter our conceptions of the immortality of art. Gibson’s book challenges the fundamental assumptions about books, art and reality.”

“Digital Aesthetics: A Systematic Approach”
By Bo Kampmann Walther, Univ. of So. Denmark

Keynote address at the conference Digital Aesthetics, 2003, in which Agrippa is cited as “[o]ne of the most artistically advanced examples of a digitally transient, that is, temporally dependent or adjusted, piece of art.”

Agrippa is described as a ‘black box recovered from some unspecified disaster’, and instead of meaningful words the pages of the book are filled with DNA -codes – ‘AATAT/TACGA/GTTTG’ and so on. -Yet the allegory seems obvious: just as letters generate semantics, so DNA strings create life that interprets information (or ‘recipes’) in a cycle.”

Magazine Reviews

Baker John F. “Electronic Art Book … for One Read Only.” Publishers Weekly, June 29, 1992 v239 n29 p28(1)

Straightforward review of “Agrippa” with valuable observations from Begos and Gibson. “The whole creation is thus in the process of alteration, like human perception and memory.”

Ehrenman, Gayle C. “Write Once, Read Once Literature.” PC Magazine, August 1992 v11 n14 p34(1)

Includes interesting comments on the ephermeral character of the poem’s content and the technology platform itself. “These memories, like the technology that’s being used to convey them, exist only as a moment in time.”

Jillette, Penn. “Agrippa – One Shot to Download Dad.” PC/Computing, Sept 1992 v5 n9 p436(1)

Humorous review of “Agrippa” by the famed magician. “These two guys have teamed up and done the hippest non-Lou Reed thing this year.”

Killheffe, Robert KJ. “The Shape of Books to Come: a Collaborative Book (?) Challenges Ideas about the Immorality of Art.” Omni, Jan 1993 v15 n4 p14(1)

Excellent review of the book and its broadcast and also has great comments from Ashbaugh and Begos. “In fact, Agrippa is more art object than book–the arbitrary division between art and literature is wholly erased.”

the title says Immorality of Art but I’m pretty sure it means Immortality, but that’s how it is in the electronic database (without the ‘t’).

Additional Links

The online bibliographic descriptions of this work at the New York Public Library and at Western Michigan University both provide a link to Gibson’s poem on his site. Perhaps we can do the same in addition to Alan’s numbered version under a section called “The Poem”? Also, perhaps we can link Gibson’s explanation of the poem on his site in the “Mythinformation” or “genesis and cyberafterlife” section proposed at our last meeting?

Gibson’s “authorized” version:

Gibson’s intro:

Alan’s numbered version:


Here is a first shot at some resources related to Agrippa and Gibson:

“A real page burner.”
By Gavin Edwards (Details, June ’92) Transcribed by Debaser
Sample quote: “William Gibson’s latest story costs $450, comes on disk, and self-destructs after one reading.”
Provides a brief review of Agrippa: a Book of the Dead.

Maclean’s June 5, 1995
By Brian D. Johnson
Gibson, William Ford (Profile)
Straightforward biographical information about William Gibson. Might provide a nice complement to Gibson’s own biography featured on his website.

Scream Baby
“You are Number Six”
February 13, 1993
Brief press release related to Agrippa.

Reading for Pleasure
Issue #23
Extra-Large 3rd Anniversary Issue
June 1992 / July 1992
Editor: Cindy Bartorillo
Brief press release related to Agrippa.

Locus Magazine (print)–I am in the process of tracking this down.

Interview with Gibson, with references to Agrippa, by Karl E. Jirgens
In Eye Weekly

Interview with Gibson, with emphasis on Agrippa, by Karl E. Jirgens
In Rampike (print–I am in the process of hunting this down)

James A. Doerfler–design consultant for Agrippa
Mentioned on James A. Doerfler’s Resume
Found this reference through a google search. Apparently, he worked as a design consultant on the project. Perhaps we should consider contacting him at some point?

William Gibson Alef
Site features information about many of Gibson’s popular works, as well as information related to Agrippa, inluding a few photographs of the work.

“A Quick Note on Swift Current: the World’s First E-Journal”
By Karl E. Jirgens
From OL3: open letter on lines online (2000)
Article references Agrippa in the context of digitial publishing.

Lines for a Virtual Ty/opography: Electronic Essays on Artifice and Information
By Matthew G. Kirshenbaum
Kirshenbaum’s dissertation about the nature of on-line texts and virtual reading practice; references to Agrippa in Works Cited.

“Materiality and Matter and Stuff: What Virtual Texts are Made Of” (2003)
By Matthew Kirschenbaum
Article looks promising in terms of Agrippa; journal is currently down.

More Print Resources

Chollet, Laurence. “It’s the Story You Just Can’t Forget This Book Is Read on a Computer – And One Time Only.” Record (New Jersey), May 17, 1992

This piece is useful both in its discussion of the genesis of the project, apparently from a chance meeting at an art and technology fair in Barcelona, Spain, and for some interesting comments from Gibson on the nature of the book. “The project can be read on many levels, but it’s designed to comment specifically on how art, commerce, and time distort personal memory.”

Chollet, Laurence. “A Story that Fades in Time,” Record (New Jersey), December 13, 1992.

Short discussion of the “reading” of “Agrippa” broadcast around the country in 1992. This one occurring in Manhattan. The work was also read aloud by Penn Jillette.

Quittner, Joshua. “‘Webs’: Avant-Garde Storytelling On Computer,” St Louis Post-Dispatch, June 24, 1992.

Although there isn’t as much specifically on “Agrippa” here, it does nicely lay out the hypertext landscape into which the work was received. Includes quotes by Landow, and hitech jargon that, as far as I am aware, never seems to have caught on (like the term ‘webs’ in the headline).

Von Ziegesar, Peter. “You Can Read This Book Only Once,” Kansas City Star, December 11, 1992.

Description of an exhibition at the Kansas City Art Institute organized around the “Agrippa” broadcast. “Gibson’s hardboiled, yet occasionally sensitive, reminiscences of shooting pistols and hanging around the bus station in Wheeling, W.Va., bore little resemblance to the mind-boggling permutations of memory and chromosome common to his science fiction.”.

Print Resources

Chollet, Laurence B. “William Gibson’s Second Sight In Meetings of Man and Machine, Ecstacy and Dread, the Cyberpunk Guru Divines the Future,” Los Angeles Times, September 12, 1993.

Discussion of Gibson’s novel “Virtual Light.” Although the article primarily deals with other work by Gibson, it includes a few comments on Agrippa, including the explication that “[t]he book was designed to work on many levels, but in one real sense it was intended to replicate Gibson’s memories of his late father-vanishing words and fading pictures that change with each glance.” Mr. Chollet has also provided a nice introduction to Gibson himself, the man behind the text.

Fein, Esther B. “Read It, and Its Gone,” Book Notes, New York Times, C26, November 18, 1992.

Review of the book, “and the word is used in the loosest sense possible,” contemporary to its release. Includes the pithy observation that “[a]nyone who buys the book will have to decide whether to enjoy its content or save it as a collector’s item.”

Jonas, Gerald. “The Disappearing $2,000 Book,” New York Times, BR12, August 29, 1993.

A thoughtful full-length discussion of the text including comments from Begos, Gibson and Ashbaugh. Also includes a description of the book and the reading experience: “The first time the disk is inserted in a computer, the words of the story begin scrolling up the screen at a preset speed as if the computer and not the reader were scanning the text.”

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