Your first three books were set relatively far in the future from when they were written –

For my own purposes I assumed that “Neuromancer” was set in 2035, but I was very careful to keep out of the book anything that would allow anyone to date it by internal evidence, which I think was a smart move, considering the longevity that it has strangely enjoyed.

The next three were set in the near future, and your latest three have been set in an “imaginary present.” Are you working your way around to the past?

I once thought I was, but I think I’ve actually worked my way around to the future again. The first three were full-on “This is the future” genre sci-fi books; the next three were like the ‘90s in high cyberpunk cosplay mode. Those [characters], for me, hadn’t been altered by history at all. They were like ‘90s people, but inhabiting this satirical set. I never saw a critic or a reader even remark on that. They accepted them as folk from the very near future, and noticing the lack of response to that was one of the things that emboldened me to write “Pattern Recognition” [2001] and then the next two books [“Spook Country” (2006) and “Zero History” (2010)], which are speculative novels of the very recent past, in that they are each set in the year prior to the year in which the book is actually published, with huge amounts of internal evidence of when it is. A lot of people said to me, “Why are you doing that? It’s going to date it.” I said, “I want to date it. It’s in some way a description of life, and I want to know which month these imaginary events supposedly happened in.”

Salon: William Gibson: I really can’t predict the future