Lew Shiner is one of the original five SF writers tagged as cyberpunk. It was Shiner's first novel Frontera, published in 1984 which "earned" him the label. Some of his other novels include
"..by 1987, cyberpunk had become a cliche'. Other writers had turned it into a formula: implant wetware, government by multinational corporations, street-wise, leather jacketed, amphetamine-loving protagonists and decaying orbital colonies.
These changes led a number of us to declare the movement dead. For us, cyberpunk in its new incarnation had turned technology into an end in itself and had lost its original impulse.
...I find myself waiting -- maybe in vain -- for a new literature of idealism and compassion that is contemporary not only on the technological level but also the emotional."
(1953- ) John Shirley is the quintessential cyberpunk. His influences and interests expand far beyond the boundaries of stereotypical science fiction. He has been a singer and musician in a punk band, has an ongoing interest in underground art and culture, and is most keenly interested in radical cultural politics.
Shirley's novels include
Stephen Tyler (the Deconstructionist, not the lead signer for Aerosmith) describes the simulacrum thus:
"Where modernism focused on the central notion of representation, of the substitution of appearance, of a copy for an original version, post-modernism speaks of 'simulacra,' of models, of simulations, of constructed realities, of appearance as reality. The post-modernist simulacra undermine the notion of fundamental difference between reality and appearance, so we no longer think of 'models of reality' but in 'models as reality.' Simulacra do not re-present a prior or original presentation of the real, they are the real."
I saw a cartoon recently which perfectly illustrates the idea of simulacra: A TV camera is sitting in an easy chair watching television. A cable comes out of the camera and goes into the back of the TV set that the camera is watching. This cutting out of the "middle man," of self-simulation, is the essence of simulacra.
Of course the best example of simulacrum is the evening news. The news makes the News makes the news. CNN reports on the activities of Sadam Hussein, while Sadam watches CNN to find out what he's doing.
The S. I. (1957-1972) were a group of mostly French intellectuals who attempted to update Marxism to fit the new opiating realities of modern mass media culture. They realized that control through pleasure and the replacement of legitimate human desires with commodities were the new weapons of the State. The commodity culture/capitalist state now maintains control of the masses by convincing them that they are free, happy, and able to make choices (between products!) One basic example of this is illustrated in a current shampoo commercial. After the "talent" has pissed and moaned about her job, boyfriend, hairstyle, etc. she tells you about a new shampoo she's discovered. She uses it and everything in her life falls into place. The tag line: "You don't need a new life; you need a new shampoo."
To hear the Situationists speak for themselves, check out the superb Situationist International Anthology (Ken Knabb, ed. and translator). For a more popular description of the S. I. and one person's view of their influence on punk and post-punk art and culture, see Lipstick Traces (Greil Marcus).
"True Slack is something for nothing."
"The Slack that can be described is not the true Slack."
"Slack: a surge of uncorrupted gumption, an explosion of the 'self' - not obliterating it, but bloating it.
- The Book of the Subgenius
Do you spend most of your time wishing that you were doing something else? Has the conspiracy ground you down to a dried-up ball of dust? Is your life a shockingly obvious pattern of waking up every morning to perform perfectly idiotic activities all day long, followed by returning home to sit before the numbing rays of a TV before you go to sleep so that you can get up and repeat the cycle? If so, someone else has your Slack! That's right, it's a zero-sum game, and you my friend, are the zero. You've got to make yourself receptive to Slack, and it will shower down on you in an endless cascade.
And then you can tell The Conspiracy to go to hell.
Magic pills and potions that give the ingester wisdom or knowledge are legendary archetypes that have inspired info-maniacs to search for and create substances that improve all aspects of mental functioning: alertness, concentration, memory, problem-solving ability, etc.
A new class of psychoactive chemicals called nootropics (noos = mind, tropein = toward) has been demonstrated to possess long-term cognition enhancing properties in double-blind laboratory tests. What's more, they are virtually non-toxic. One FDA official remarked that nootropics must be useless because they have no toxicity even at massive dosage levels. Some of the more popular nootropics include Piracetam, vinpocetine, and pyroglutanic acid.
The book Smart Drugs & Nutrients by John Morgenthaler and Ward Dean, M.D. describes various smart drugs in detail.
Though most smart drugs are not available without a prescription, A new FDA ruling allows US citizens to purchase non-controlled substances for personal use from overseas firms.
If Cyberpunk is, as one writer has stated, "the place where the future implodes onto the present," then Steampunk is where the present implodes onto the past. Steampunk explores how the 19th century might have been different had high technology arrived 150 years earlier (e.g. steam-driven computers).
As happened with the Cyberpunk label, people are now looking at fiction all the way back to Jules Verne and retrospectively dubbing it "Steampunk." The word first crept into usage to describe Jeter's Infernal Machines, and later Gibson and Sterling's The Difference Engine.
Bruce Sterling is one of the most thought-provoking SF writers of our time. He is the author of
He also edited Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology. He is currently working on his first non-fiction book about computer crime and civil liberties. Sterling is a regular contributor to Interzone and SF Eye. He lives with his wife and daughter in Austin, Texas.
Transhumanism concerns the path that human evolution could/should take. Transhumanists believe that technology may soon replace biology as the new "vehicle for (human) evolution." Transhumanism explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, and advanced robotics as potential stepping stones towards the creation of an immortal cyborganism. The terms "Post-Humanism" and "Anti-Humanism" are often used in a similar vein. The term "Transhumanism" was coined by the futurist F.M.-2030 (F.M. Esfandiary). For more information see his book Are You A Transhuman?
Virtual Reality (VR) is a 3-D computer generated world that can be entered with the aid of goggle-mounted monitors and data-sensing clothing. A computer is programmed with an environment that is fed to the user via the goggles. As the person in VR turns their head, the computer generates the view, such that the illusion of actually being in a Tron-like world is created. Fiber-optic sensors fitted into gloves and even a full-body jump suit provide the computer with enough information to create a simulation of the user. If you hold up your hand, you see a computer rendered hand. If you look down at your body, you see a computerized version of it.
Some developers, in an effort to get away from the media hype of VR, have started to use other words like "virtual environments" or "virtual worlds."
The term virus is used to describe cracker programs that seek out other programs and attempt to "infect" them by attaching a copy of themselves. The virus lays in wait until its appointed time when it is activated to do whatever it was designed to do. Viruses are often just designed to generate numerous copies of themselves or to display messages or play strange tricks on your system. Particularly nasty viruses are designed to delete files or do other irreparable damage.
The media generated quite a hysteria over computer viruses in the late Eighties which spawned a healthy business in anti-viral programs. While a huge number of the reported infections turned out to be something else, there were enough legitimate cases to cause concern. People have begun to take special "health precautions" with their computer systems, just as they have in their own sex lives to guard against sexually transmitted viruses. By the way, "SEX" also stands for "Software Exchange." This hand to hand program exchange is probably the primary means of spreading computer viruses.
Peter Lamborn Wilson is a scholar of Islamic verse and editor of the provocative book-zine Semiotext(e). He is a regular fixture in alternative academic, anarchist, zine publishing, and radical SF circles. His "Moorish Orthodox Church" is a "self-entertaining...free religion." He can be heard on WBAI with the "Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade," a sort of radio version of Factsheet Five which covers marginal art, culture, and politics. Wilson is also very close friends with Hakim Bey, although they are never seen together.
(1932 - ) As a Playboy Forum editor in the sixties, Robert Anton Wilson helped to develop the magazine's espousal of a libertarian, personal-choice lifestyle. After writing several books for Playboy Press, Wilson quit his job and began writing full-time, producing (along with Robert Shea) the paranoid, absurdist trilogy Illuminatus! (1975, winner of the 1986 Prometheus Hall of Fame Award), which won him global acclaim as a master of satire and social commentary.
Holding a Ph.D. in psychology from Hawthorn University, Wilson's books are philosophical explorations of consciousness, mysticism and physics. He frequently lectures around the world, and in 1986 was a guest of the Norwegian government at the 1986 Oslo International Poetry Festival.
"Whoever can scare people enough (produce bio-survival anxiety) can sell them quickly on any verbal map that seems to give them relief, i.e. cure the anxiety. By frightening people with Hell and then offering them Salvation, the most ignorant or crooked individuals can "sell" a whole system of thought that cannot bear two minutes of rational analysis."
- Prometheus Rising
Originally from the term "fanzine", zines have come to refer to any small, usually homemade, publication. Early zines covered mainly music , science fiction, and role-playing games, but the territory has expanded to encompass just about everything from amateur science, humor, and experimental art and literature, to religion and aberrant sexual behavior. Two things that are probably the most responsible for the explosion of zine publishing in the 80's and 90's are desktop publishing technology and the publication of a "zine of zines" called Factsheet Five. Factsheet Five is a regular directory and overview of the zine press. Each issue contains listings of thousands of zines, comics, small run books and other do-it-yourself media.
Zines are sometimes referred to as Samizdat, a Russian word that refers to clandestine publishing in the USSR.