Cyberpunk Can’t Die

Cyberpunk Sky Static

I’ve started reading three or four books in the past week and set them aside because I just couldn’t stay interested. But finally, I’ve latched on to a good one! I’m reading Time Heist by Anthony Vicino. It’s the real thing. I’ll even give Vicino a free pass for promoting himself in this article he wrote about cyberpunk, because his book really does belong on the same page as these others. The article in question contains the following observations:

Cyberpunk ain’t coming back. Not like it was back in the 80’s and 90’s at least, when masters like Gibson and Stephenson and Sterling were doing their things. No more leather dusters and mohawks cruising the Tokyo slums looking to jack in.

But that’s okay, ‘cause here’s the good thing: Cyberpunk never really left. (Ha, plot twist. How’s that for being entirely contradictory? That’s just me trying to keep you on your toes!)

Cyberpunk has evolved. Into something better? Maybe. Maybe not. Certainly different if nothing else. But here’s the awesome part: It’s been hiding right under our noses the entire time.

Read more (and check out Time Heist)

 

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30 Years of Future: Essential Cyberpunk

iO9cyberPic

Via iO9, Diana Biller writes:

It’s now been over three decades since cyberpunk first exploded, and in that time we’ve seen gorgeous movies, read fascinating books, and seen dozens of offshoots like steampunk (and my new favorite, deco punk) develop. Here are the 21 cyberpunk books you absolutely must read.

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Blues For Horselover Fat: William Gibson on Philip K. Dick

From PhilipKDickfans.com, William Gibson says, “Remarkable the number of Phil Dick’s fans who have no desire to read any other sf. It always impressed me. ‘Well, no, I don’t read that stuff…. But do you know this guy Dick?’ How did they get on to him? Word of mouth…. He was the only product of the American genre sf scene you could give to hardened Burroughs and Pynchon fanatics without wincing a little. Because, at his best, he was truly Dread, the poplit equivalent of certain moments in rock when an improvised guitar line comes scything out at you like a snapped cable and cuts the mind-body dichotomy eight ways from Sunday…. Reading him, sometimes, I’d get this image: man typing at a kitchen table maybe, stoked on dex and twenty cups of coffee, typing fast; just making it all up, and somehow behind it all his admirable desire to drive us all, if only for a few seconds at a time, straight of our wretched minds.”

 

Read entire article

We’re here to GO

Will Ryker, Zephron Cochran

 

We know that William Gibson and other cyberpunk authors name William S. Burroughs as a major influence. Indeed, Burroughs was tuned in to the cyberzone way ahead of the rest of us. Listen to this Giorno Poetry Systems recording of him giving the keynote speech at the Nova Convention in 1978:

William Burroughs at the Nova Convention

Is What Cyberpunk?

 

I can give you a vague definition of cyberpunk with terms like “noir future” and “distopia,” but Rudy Rucker says it better and really whets my appetite to know more. Here’s an excerpt from What Is Cyberpunk:

 Proximately, “cyberpunk” is a word coined by Gardner Dozois to describe the fiction of William Gibson. Gibson’s novel Neuromancer won the Science Fiction equivalent of the Triple Crown in 1985: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Phil Dick award. Obviously, a lot of SF writers would like to be doing whatever Gibson is doing right. At the 1985 National SF Convention in Austin there was a panel called “Cyberpunk.” From left to right, the panelists were me, John Shirley, Bruce Sterling, a nameless “moderator,” Lew Shiner, Pat Cadigan, and Greg Bear. Gibson couldn’t make it; he was camping in Canada, and the audience was a bit disappointed to have to settle for pretenders to his crown. Sterling, author of the excellent Schismatrix, got a good laugh by announcing, “Gibson couldn’t make it today, he’s in Switzerland getting his blood changed.” Talking about cyberpunk without Gibson there made us all a little uncomfortable, and I thought of a passage in Gravity’s Rainbow, the quintessential cyberpunk masterpiece:

On Slothrop’s table is an old newspaper that appears to be in Spanish. It is open to a peculiar political cartoon of a line of middle-aged men wearing dresses and wigs, inside the police station where a cop is holding a loaf of white . . . no it’s a baby, with a label on its diaper sez LA REVOLUCION . . . oh, they’re all claiming the infant revolution as their own, all these politicians bickering like a bunch of putative mothers . . .

On the objective level, a cyberpunk work will often talk about computers, software, chips, information, etc. And on the higher level which I was talking about above, a cyberpunk work will try to reach a high level of information-theoretic complexity. High complexity does not, I should point out, mean hard to read.

 Read the entire article 

Voraciously Assimilating Commentary by Lance Olsen on William Gibson

I’ve been voraciously assimilating commentary by Lance Olson on the work of author William Gibson. Can’t get enough of it!

 

Here are some words and phrases I looked up while reading Olsen’s commentary on Gibson’s Burning Chrome. I had a general idea what some of these terms meant, but a couple of them, like “gomi no sensei,”  I had no idea.

  

Yes, this is my idea of fun. You may prefer to skip my definitions and go staright to Olsen’s excellent commentary.

 

Simstim – Stimulation of the brain and nervous system of one person using a recording (or live broadcast) of another person’s experience. Fictional at this time, as far as I know. You “jack in” to the other consciousness via ASP (Apparent Sensory Perception) decks.

ICE – Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics

Mimetic – from Greek mimetikos,  “imitation.” Related words include mimic and mime.    Mimetics concerns the nature of representation, a process of mimicry and communication.

Michael Davis, a translator and commentator of Aristotle writes:

“At first glance, mimesis seems to be a stylizing of reality in which the ordinary features of our world are brought into focus by a certain exaggeration, the relationship of the imitation to the object it imitates being something like the relationship of dancing to walking. Imitation always involves selecting something from the continuum of experience, thus giving boundaries to what really has no beginning or end. Mimêsis involves a framing of reality that announces that what is contained within the frame is not simply real. Thus the more ‘real’ the imitation the more fraudulent it becomes. (The Poetry of Philosophy, p.3)”

In math, a numerical method is called mimetic when it mimics (or imitates) some properties of the continuum vector calculus. The goal of numerical analysis is to approximate the continuum, so instead of solving a partial differential equations, one aims in solve a discrete version of the continuum problem.

gomi – According to this website,  the underlying concept of GOMI is based on the theme, “Recycle, Reuse & Reinvent”. “GOMI”, meaning “rubbish” in Japanese, is a project based on the notion of recycling as a way of propagating new creation. Emphasizing on the usage of recycled materials in the process of creation, it is our intent to create an awareness of environmental issues for both the public and designers alike.

Gomi no sensei – “master of junk,” like the character in one of Gibson’s stories who roams the city “gathering junk to make whimsical deconstructive robotic sculptures.”

Semiotic – The theory and study of signs and symbols, especially as elements of language or other systems of communication, and comprising semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics.

Todorovian –  Tzvetan Todorov is familiar to us as the Russian theorist who developed theories of narrative. One of his keys ideas was that effective narratives conform to the following structure:  equilibrium > disequilibrium > new equilibrium. Stories start with a state of affairs which is somehow balanced and in order; a conflict arises which disturbs the equilibrium; the conflict is somehow resolved, leading to a new, adjusted equilibrium – new order.

epistemological – the study or a theory of the nature and grounds of knowledge especially with reference to its limits and validity. Since the 17th century epistemology has been one of the fundamental themes of philosophers, who were necessarily obliged to coordinate the theory of knowledge with developing scientific thought.

ontological –  relating to or based upon being or existence

intertextuality – French intertextualité, from inter- + textuel textual + -ité -ity: the complex interrelationship between a text and other texts taken as basic to the creation or interpretation of the text

Mnemonic – Often used today to describe various techniques people use to help them remember things, the word mnemonic is derived from the Ancient Greek word μνημονικός mnemonikos (“of memory”) and is related to Mnemosyne (“remembrance”), the name of the goddess of memory in  Greek Mythology. Both of these words refer back to μνημα mnema (“remembrance”).

Carl Jung  (July 26, 1875 – June 6, 1961) –  A Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker and founder of analytical psychology.

Jung’s unique approach to psychology has been influential in countercultural movements in Europe, the United States and elsewhere since the 1960s. He emphasized understanding the psyche through exploring the worlds of dreams, art, mythology, world religion and philosophy. Although he was a theoretical psychologist and practicing clinician, much of his life’s work was spent exploring other realms, including Eastern and Western philosophy, alchemy, astrology, sociology, as well as literature and the arts. His most notable ideas include the concept of archetypes, the collective unconscious and synchronicity. Jung emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that modern people rely too heavily on science and logic and would benefit from integrating spirituality and appreciation of unconscious realms.
                                    – Jung info quoted from Wikipedia