Jamaica 08 ch15 Cyberpunk

From C64 Diskmag Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
cyberpunk                          iopop
yoo everybody, iopop is here and i now
started a new corner in this mag. as the
name tells it will be about cyberpunk.

the idea to this chapter started when i
saw a file on one of the comupters in
school. and after some reading at school
i thought it would be cool to convert
that serain text to this computer. the
text is called the unofficial facts to
frecuently asked questions.

i must thank NOY/CYBERDYNE, for the
converting. and the one who wrote the
text in it's original form, thanx!

actually it isn't the whole text this
time and i don't know if i will use
the whole text either. just take some
parts of it when i need it.

i hope that you are as much interested
in this subject as i am. and that we can
have a new subject

for all those who never heard about
cyberpunk might ask this question:


inevitably after reading alt.cp for a
while, you will encounter posts where
the author argues with some other party
about a definition of cyberpunk.

cyberpunk is a new movement, a new sub-
culture, thus it has no set definition.

to get some idea of "just what is cyber-
punk?"  we'll examine what the leaders
of this movement and contributors of
alt.cyberpunk would give as their


        -a page out of mondo 2000

 a conversation between william gibson
          and  bruce sterling:

 (lifted from fad magazine, #26, spring
    1992, pages 40-41 w/o permission)

    (wg and bs interviewed by marjan)

bruce sterling: bruce bepkie, who wrote
a short story called 'CYBERPUNK'
(coined the term); he's a moderately
known science fiction writer. but the
use of cyberpunk as a literary critical
term is started by a guy called gardner
dozois, the editor is isaac asimov's
science fiction magazine now. he's also
a well-known critic. he wrote an article
in the washington post about cyberpunk
which mentioned my name and gibson,
john shirley, rudy rucker, some of our
crowd; - that stuck. this was around
1983 or so.

william gibson: he was aiming to do that
as early as 1981, cuz that's when i met

bs: we've had lots of names. ever since
we started people have been giving us
one kind of title or another. i had a
list of like a dozen once; radical hard,
sf, techno punk, 80's wave, outlaw

wg: they've used them all up, so now
people in england are starting to come
up with new names. they have like
techno goths, techno goth ficiton.

fad (magazine): how would you define

bs: i always thought it was the realm
where the computer hacker and the rocker
overlap. high tech having it's impact on

fad: sort of like sex, drugs and rock
and roll with computers?

bs: more or less. bohemia is an old
thing, and science fiction is an old
thing, and every once in awhile they
just overlap. they're both products of
industrial society, it's a natural thing
it's not very far-fetched it's just very
functional. it's hard to say whether we
invented these people or therese people
invented us. you want to look at what
cyberpunk has become, read MONDO 2000.
it's just as demented and just as
strange. but it's very much a happening
scene, it actually gives people some-
thing they really need.

fad: (to gibson) and how would you
define it?

wg: (long pause) i can't (laughs) some-
body once asked jimmy page what he
thought of heavy metal, and he said, i
didn't call it that when i invented it.

fad: what did you call it?

wg: i didn't call it anything.

note: i highly recommend this article
if you can find a copy of the magazine.
it's called fad and is a sf-based style-
rag (like details was before it went

             po box 420-656
              san francisco
                ca 94142.

              $3.95/ issue

(IOPOP: i don't know if this mag still
exists but i took with the addy anyway.)


cyberpunk as seen thrugh the
"snake-eyes" of tom maddox comes form an
abrideged version of his essay:

           "after the deluge:
     cyberpunk in the '80s and '90s"

(the essay was printed in the volume
(thinking robots, an aware internet, and
cyberpunk librarians) edited by r. bruce
miller and milton t. wolf, distributed
at the library and information
technology assocition meeting in san
francisco, during teh 1992 american
library association conference.)

 in the mid-'80s cyberpunk emerged as a
new way of doing science  fiction in
both literature and film. the primary
book was william gibson's NEUROMANCER;
the most important film, BLADE RUNNER.

 both featured a hardboiled style, were
intensely sensuous in their rendering of
detail, and engaged  technology in a
manner unusual in science fiction:
 neither technophiliac (like so much of
golden age sf) nor technophobic (like
the sf new wave), cyberpunk did not so
much embrace technology as go along for
the ride.

 however, this was just the beginning:
during the '80s cyberpunk SPAWNED, and
in a very contemporary mode. it was
cloned; it underwent mutations; it was
the subject of various experiments in
recombining it's  semiotic dna. if you
were hip in the '80s, you at lest heard
about cyberpunk, and if in addition you
were even marginally literate, you knew
about gibson.

in the 80s the boundaries between
entertainment and politics, or between
the simulated and the real, first became
more permeable and then  at lead
according to some theorists of these
events collapsed entirely.

whether we were ready or not, the post-
mordern age was upon us.

anyone who was watching the field
carefully had already noticed stories
CHROME and some of us thought that
gibson was writing the most exciting new
work in the field, but no one least of
all gibson himself was ready for what
happened next. NEUROMANCER won the hugo,
the nebula, the philip k. dick award,
australia's ditmar; it contributed a
central concept to the emerging computer
culture (CYBERSPACE); it defined an
emerging literary style, cyberpunk;
and it made that new literary style
famous, and even hip.

together set the boundary conditions
for emerging cyberpunk:  a hard-boiled
combination of high tech and low life.
as the famous gibson phrase puts it,
"the street has its own uses for
technology." so compelling were these
two narratives that many people then and
now refuse to regard as cyberpunk
anything stylistically and thematically
different from them.

meanwhile, down in texas a writer named
bruce sterling had been publishing a
fanzine (a rigorously  postmodern
medium) called CHEAP TRUTH;

all articles were written under pseudo-
nyms, and taken together, they amounted
to a series of guerrilla raids on sf.

GIBSON and STERLING were already friends
and other writers were becoming
acquainted with one or both:

lew shiner, sterling's right-hand on
CHEAP TRUTH under the name sue denim,
rudy rucker, john shirley, pat cadigan,
richard kadrey, others, me included.
some became friends, and at the very
least, everyone became aware of everyone

 early on in this process, gardner dozo
is committed the fateful act of
referring to this group of very loosely-
affiliated folk as CYBERPUNKS. at the
appearence of the word, the media circus
and its acolytes, the marketers, went
into gear. cyberpunk became talismanic:
whithin the sf ghetto, some applauded,
some booed, some cashed in, some even
denied that the word referred to

and som applauded or booed or denied
that cyberpunk existed AND cashed in at
the same time the quintessentially post-
modern response, one might say.

literary cyberpunk had become more than
gibson, and cyberpunk itself had become
more than literature and film. in fact,
the label has been applied variously,
promiscuously, often cheaply or stupidly

kids with modems and the urge to commit
computer crime became known as
CYBERPUNKS, in PEOPLE magazine, for
instance; however, so did urban hipsters
who wore black, read MONDO 2000,
listened to INDUSTRIAL POP, and
generally subscribed to technofetishism.
cyberpunk generated articles and
features in places as diverse as the
wall street journal, communications of
the american society for computing
machinery, people, mondo 2000 and mtv.
also, though gibson was and is often
regarded with deep suspicion within the
sf community, this ceased to matter:
he had become more than just another sf
writer; he was a cultural icon of sorts,
invoked by figures as various as william
burroughs, timothy leary, stewart brand,
david bowie and blondie, among others.
in short, much of the real action for
cyberpunk was to be found outside the sf

meanwhile, cyberpunk fiction if you will
allow the existence of any such thing,
and most people do was being produced
and even became influential.

also, various postmodern academics took
an interest in cyberpunk. larry
mccaffery, who teaches in southern
california, brought many of them
together in a CASEBOOK, of all things,
"storming the reality studio: a casebook
of cyberpunk and postmodern science
fiction". many of the academics haven't
read much science fiction; they're hard-
nosed, hip, and often condescending;
they like cyberpunk but are deeply
suspicious of anyone's claims for it.
but whatever their particular views,
their very presence at the party implies
a certain validation of cyberpunk as
whorthy of more serious attention than
the usual sf, even of the more
celebrated sort.

by the end of the '80s, people who never
liked it much to begin with were
announcing with audible relief the death
of cyberpunk: it had taken its cononical
fifteen minutes of fame and how should
move over and let something else take
the stage

however, cyberpunk had not died; rather,
like romanticism and surrealism before
it(or like tyrone slothrop in GRAVITY'S
RAINBOW, one of teh ur texts of cyber-
punk), it had become so culturally wide-
spread and undergone so many changes
that it could no longer be easily
located and identified.

cyberpunk came into being just as
information density and complexity went
critical: the supersaturation of the
planet with systems capable of manipula-
ting, transmitting, and receiving ever
vaster quantities of information has
just begun, but(as benedikt points out,
though toward different ends), it has
begun. cyberpunk is the fictive voice
of that process, and so long as the
process remains problematic for instance
so long as it threatens to redefine us
the voice will be heard.

                             tom maddoxm

"the sky above the port was the color of
television, tuned to a dead channel"

    ....opening lines of NEUROMANCER

asking someone to define cyberpunk is
like asking someone to define art. each
person has their own ideas about what
art is, what constitutes art and what
doesn't. yet we all still know art when
we see it. the same is true for
cyberpunk - each cyberpunk has their own
definition for it, yet common threads
remain. in basic terms, these might be
defined by an emphasis on individualism
and technology (both in the present and
in the future - and in the past as the
dirrerence engine a book by gibson &

so what seperates cyberpunk from other
types of sci-fi? generally, cyberpunk
occures in the not-so-distant-future. it
generally occurs on earth, in a time
where technology is promindet.
characters are generally AVERAGE JOHNNY
MNEMONICS - not some fantastic hero with
lots of virte and a blinding smile.

cyberpunk revels in high-tech low-lifes,
so you can expect to see lots of crime
and back-stabbing and drugs as such.
these are the basic elements of gibson-
esque cp (cyberpunk) - we've all seen it
before in movies such as bladerunner and
tv shows like mas headroom

in many cases, it appears as if our
world is evolving into a classic cyber-
punk setting: the rise of post-zaibatsu
japan with it's monopoly on technology,
american cities developing into the
SPRAWL (basically just large,mega-
cities), drugs and crime are predominant
in some cultures, and we thrive and
survive on technology. so, it isn't too
hard to see how cyberpunk evolved from
being just a literary movement into a
growing sub-culture - industrial and
post-industrial aspects of the culture,
virtual reality, rave parties, noo
tropics, computer hacking - they're all
aspects of our culture, they all would
fit nicely into a gibson novel, and they
all exist now.

so, what makes a cyberpunk? if you
already knew all this stuff, and you're
laughing at my generalities and
inconsistencies, then you're definitely
a cyberpunk. if you're a techno-junkie
or an info-junkie, than you'd probably
consider yourself a cyberpunk.
basically, if you live in a world in
the not-so-distant-future, ahead of the
masses (the masses being guys named
buford who sit out in front of their
trailer homes in lawn chairs sipping a
bud and watching the indy 500 on and old
tv), then you could probaly safely
consider yourself a cyberpunk. it's a
spectrum, though - i mean, it's kind of
like if micahelangelo had an assistant,
he would not consider the assistant an
artist. yet to his friends and family,
that assistant may seem like a great
artist. i consider myself a cyberpunk
compared to the masses that walk the
halls of my school, yet at a virtual
reality conference in the presence of
the likes of jaron lanier, gibson, john
perry barlow, timothy leary, ru sirius,

i would probably be more hesitant in
labeling myself a true cyberpunk. but
one the beauties of cp is that it's
still somewhat elitist to an extent:
members of the community realize that we
who walk on the fringes of culture need
to hold each others' hand until the
masses join us - the communal atmosphere
at times, can be seen as similair to the
early hippie movement of the late 50's/
early 60's.

cyberpunk melding with other subcultures

in recent years, the media and fans of
cyberpunk literature have taken
cyberpunk from a literart movement to a
growing subculture. look around you:
CYBER is everywhere.

the word CYBERPUNK as an adjective often
refers to one who uses a computer in
infiltrate (HACK or CRACK if you prefer)
systems they shouldn't be in (or atleast
they don't have regular access to that
system). some use CYBERPUNK in
conjunction with computer hacking to
mean "people who destroy data". others
use it to mean "people who liberate
information". it all just depends on
your particular views on the subject.
at any rate, this use of the word
CYBERPUNK comes from the deck cowboys of
gibson novels.

basically, any growing subculture that
could help to bring about a gernralized
cyberpunk-esque world overlaps with the
cyber-culture. these might include:
virtual reality , nootropics(smartdrugs
and smartdrinks), the rave subculture
etc., etc.,   ad nauseum.

for an idea of what i mean of cyberpunk
relating to other subcultures, read
MONDO 2000.

well, finally we came to the end of this
chapter. acctually the original text is
much longer. but the memory of this
lovely computer is too little.

next time i will talk about cyberpunk-
music. or anything else that you might
like to hear about this subject.

Personal tools