Jamaica 08 ch15 Cyberpunk
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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: WHAT IS CYBERPUNK? ---------------------- 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 definitions: "CYBERPUNK. THE ATTITUDE. GET IT." -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 you. 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 technologists... 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 cyberpunk? bs: i always thought it was the realm where the computer hacker and the rocker overlap. high tech having it's impact on bohemia. 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 glossy). fad 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 such as JOHNNY MNEMONIC and BURNING 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. along with NEUROMANCER, BLADE RUNNER 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 else. 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 anything; 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 ghetto. 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 & sterling). 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, etc. 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. INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE!