At the moment I’m reading (and very much enjoying) Pattern Recognition by Vancouver’s own William Gibson. About halfway through, Gibson describes a collector’s latest quarry:
â€˜Yes,â€™ says Ngemi, with quiet pride, â€˜but now I am negotiating to buy Stephen Kingâ€™s Wang…A huge thing, one of the early dedicated word processors.â€™
This is an amusing joke, but it immediately reminded me of King’s own reference to his enormous Wang. It took at least a minute of solid thinking to determine which book it appeared in, but I eventually remembered that it appears in the front matter of Skeleton Crew:
Take “Word Processor of the Gods” as a for-instance. Not the best story I ever wrote; not one that’s ever going to win any prizes. But it’s not too bad, either. Sort of fun. I had just gotten my own word processor a month before (it’s a big Wang, and keep your smart comments to yourself, what do you say?) and I was still exploring what it could and couldn’t do. In particular I was fascinated with the INSERT and DELETE buttons, which make cross-outs and carets almost obsolete.
It’s an obvious joke, but King made it first. He’s referenced his Wang elsewhere, but I think this is the earliest reference in print. I often wonder about this kind of convergence. Did Gibson read the introduction to Skeleton Crew as well? Does he know King, and did King tell him about his Wang? Did this detail come via a third party?
On another point, Gibson has his protagonist dine in a restaurant called “Charlie Don’t Surf”. This is very likely a reference to this White Rock (a suburb of Vancouver) restaurant. I also discovered PR-Otaku–logging and annotating William Gibsonâ€™s Pattern Recognition, which is kind of interesting and very thorough. I’ve emailed the author with my contributions.
I’ve always admired Stephen King’s non-fiction writing. From Danse Macabre to On Writing, his prose has a friendliness and clarity that I’ve sometimes aspired to. Here’s a fine essay I discovered in my search for his Wang.