May 5, 2008
Neon Ocean: The Sub/Superculture, Overness and Overarchingness of Cyberpunk
Every so-often, someone declares cyberpunk is dead… mostly out of wishful thinking. When that happens, there are others who declare cyberpunk is still alive and kicking (ass). Wired’s Bruce Sterling discovered a blog by chirsminotaur that starts off with a question: “Is Cyberpunk Over?” Unfortunately, he doesn’t tell us where the question, or the discussion it triggered, was located. Instead, his reflection of the question becomes a rather interesting read as he gives his own answer:
Let’s put the future behind us. Among chisminotaur’s inspirations include a blog by Charlie Stross, who rips into sci-fi and explains his own attraction to cyberpunk. Stross sees SF being threatened by several factors:
1) Star Wars and how every SF novel wants to be like it.
2) Today’s technology has made sci-fi less necessary to prepare for the future:
3) Sci-fi for baby-boomers won’t work for the millennium generation.
4) Advances in computer technology itself has made highly realistic special effects for movies and TV:
Meanwhile, we’re competing in the special effects stakes with TV, film, and increasingly, computer games. Back in the 1950s or even 1960s, special effects were so poor that, for real sense of wonder, no visual medium could compete with written literature. But today, if you’re a writer who strives for versimilitude or believability, you can’t compete with film! (After all, you know damn well you can’t hear explosions in space, even if those bloody franchise productions insist on putting them in …)
The gap between the visual imagination of things, and the literary imagination of the universe, has narrowed.
While there seems to be nothing to cure #2 and #4, Stross sees cyberpunk as a relief from #1 and #3.
One more thing… A link from WordPress’ blogroll gives this blog from David Mendoza, who proudly proclaims that CP is NOW.
UPDATE: Ryan “Winter” Span gives his two bytes. Our burgeoning Street scribe also has something to say about cyberpunk’s “death:”
From Street of Eyes:
What we’re doing now in science-fiction — what I certainly am trying to do — is to investigate the effects of these predicted futures (increasing computerisation of humanity, the promise of true artificial intelligence, the growth of the internet) on the individual human psyche, rather than some great collective unconscious or Earth itself. We’re using characters as characters rather than set-pieces in some big statement about human nature or the dangers of science. We’re taking modern-day phenomena and anomalies that no one foresaw twenty years ago, and we’re running with them. Instead of showing you a window through which you can look at causes, effects and possibilities, we’re trying to figure out how the future is going to feel to each of us. I’ve seen many visions of how it’s going to turn out. What I want to look into is how we’re going to cope.
Anyone who’s still not convinced that CP is still operating should head over to the Street of Eyes, order his book, and READ IT!!!!!