"...science fiction is sort of like a sociological genome. It's a huge range of possible futures, most of them useless; some vital. You never really know in advance."
The word "synthespian" appears in Gibson's work, but was coined by Jeff Kleiser. Kleiser and Diana Walczak created the first digital actor for their 1988 short film Nestor Sextone for President.
The film Final Fantasy is almost entirely populated by digital actors, but has an astonishing realism. The liquid-metal robot for Terminator II is another example.
See a brief excerpt of Nestor Sextone at about 2:00 minutes into the following video.
"Max Headroom was written and directed by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel (now of MJZ) and they used Matt Frewer in makeup to represent a CG character. We were poking fun at them in Nestor Sextone for President: Nestor is running for president of the synthetic actors guild, and promising that humans in makeup will no longer take work away from synthetic actors." - Jeff Kleiser
This term is somehow reminiscent of Robert Heinlein, for me. It is a portmanteau word combining "synthetic" and "thespian" (actor). See Idoru for additional information.
Compare to Adam Selene from Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966).
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