"Ann had changed into her travelling outfit, which consisted of a light shirt in polycarbon-derived artifical fabric, which showed off her pert figure, without genetic enhancements, and dark blue pants made of textiles. "

> If All Stories Were Written Like Science Fiction Stories by Mark Rosenfelder

Everyone has their particular petty irks and mine is Fabric Stupid in Science Fiction. It would be my great delight to work as a fashion/fabric proofreader for SF writers, to stop irritating mistakes slipping into their otherwise fine work. I'm totally OK with shrouding the actual fiber content of Galactic Hero's cape and Feisty Heroine's skintight leotard in mist of vagueness, but I will make agitated noises if it's identified as woven neoprene or somesuch impossibility, or as silk without giving a solid reason to believe in silkworm farmers in space. This is a character fault, I admt, butI might even follow my fellow people around with the offending book in hand and quote passages where the author reveals his lack of knowledge about this area so dear to me.

Sometimes the opposite happens. I just finished reading Gibson's Zero History, which is not strictly speaking science fiction (although he really makes the world we now live in sound fantastically speculative, our smartphones and algorithm-aided global commerce, like it was something wild only an exceptionally imaginative writer could come up with. I adore this effect). He knows his fabrics. And he finds them interesting in a way I can totally relate to. It must be something he's picked up between his original cyberpunk trilogy and now, since Neuromancer has only a passing reference to what people wear. Only technical construction aspect I remember is a coiled nylon zipper, splitting apart during either a fight or a love-making session, can't remember which one. In Zero History each character wears fabrics which are suited to them in a way that requires deep understanding of the qualities and history and use of particular fabrics, from waxed cotton paired with tweed to Cordura. He's not just name-dropping from some A-Z Fabric Glossary, it's all spot on. Brilliant, really, how they suit the charcters. His fabric aptitude makes me swoon, to be honest. Talk to me about fabrics with such insight and I can't help but develop a little crush.

(This train of thought led to minor revelation: probably guns, cars and other tech accessories in books & movies are chosen to portray a certain type of character just as carefully as fabrics in Zero History – I'm just not educated enough about those areas  to understand the nuances. I suppose I could have figured this out earlier in my life, but hey better late than never!)

I heard some fans of Gibson's more science fictional work are irritated by the Blue Ant trilogy and Zero History in particular, calling them disparaginly "the books about pants". But I'd like to see even one of them to stop wearing pants (or pants-equivalent) and still try and participate in human affairs. There just isn't a laptop, smartphone, electronic network, or cyber-whatever, or any form of communication which is more essential than pants. Put on pants and you signal your participation in human society. Remove pants and notice your perhaps very important and well-thought-out message being drowned by the error signal your pantless lower body emits. This may sound like an irritatingly obvious thing, but people who are dismissive of fashion and clothes in general talk as if they have nothing to do with clothes, and yet act quite differently. I've yet to see anyone being so disinterested in clothes they forget to wear them. Usually "clothes pffft don't care" people they clothe themselves in what they think to be practical and no-fuss, but more often than not it's clothing that *signals* practical and no-fuss (= masculine, workwear, army and navy expressed in top stitching, dark blue, sage green, patch pockets, metal details, twilled weaves) but is inherently not more physically practical in the environment they live in than a cute pink sundress. Which the "I don't care about clothes" folks would never, ever wear, as indefferent as they claim to be.

And to my great delight Gibson addresses this variant of masculine vanity, in a concentrated form certainly, but unmistakably the same thing.

People who think themselves to be outside of fashion, not understanding it and not caring about it may ignore fashion as something frivolous and unnecessary, something greedy clothes sellers have invented to separate fools from their money. But fashion is not something that is invented, it was born together with mankind. Like stories, or music. It seems to be a part of human condition. And even more specifcally human than, say, music, which we in some way share with many other animals. No other animal dresses themselves in order to at the same time belong and be individual. Fashion, it appears, is a direct result of being self-aware and social being.

Gibson understands all this, and he understands fashion as a concept and as a system (an inconvenient, often unfair, wasteful, weird system, admittedly, but still a system we are all bound by). This is not very common, more often than not science fiction writers just don't get fashion. Which is a bit weird. It's not like fashion crowd and science fiction crowd are so fundamentally different. Both groups are intensely speculative and mostly wear black.