Creation Myth for “The Printer Repairman”

Where do you get your ideas?

The central idea of “The Printer Repairman” comes from this interview wherein William Gibson says:

Thick scabs of correction fluid. Then I discovered those rolls of self-adhesive white paper tape[…]So I’d stick that over a whole sentence or three, a whole para, then type over it. But then[…]I’d have to paint the white fluid over the *tape*, which didn’t really work that well… The pages of the Neuromancer manuscript were *3D*, topographical…

This story was written around the time I was getting interested in 3D printers (in fact, when 3D printers were just coming onto the scene), and I had also been reading about paper automata, self-folding origami robots, so it seemed reasonable to mesh printable robots with a pattern that was clearly unfolding across Mr. Gibson’s manuscript.

The workshop setting in my mind looks like the hidden attic space in C.S. Lewis’s The Magician’s Nephew, and the relationship between Doug and the narrator resembles Gibson’s own tinkerers in “Burning Chrome” (the title short story of the collection), down to the cybernetic utility hands.

The title is pretty obvious from the content of the story, but I later found out that there’s a Bruce Sterling story called “Bicycle Repairman”, which gives it a nice, inadvertent, callback to some cyberpunk.

There weren’t a whole lot of magazines that wanted to take on a (what felt like to them) incomplete flash piece, but Fred Coppersmith at Kaleidotrope eventually picked it up.

Number of rejections: 15