Storming the Reality Studio is a newly expanded version of the 1988 issue of the Mississippi Review that first brought cyberpunk into the realm of academic analysis. Edited by Larry McCaffery, the original 288-page journal (MR #47/48) from the University of Southern Mississippi offered interviews, essays, short stories, and a lively forum section with writers from within the movement and without. It probably marked the beginning of academia's serious consideration of the cyberpunk aesthetic and helped pave the way for the emergence of a "cyberculture." Essays by Istvan Csicsery-Ronay and George Sluser, along with McCaffery's introduction to the issue, explored the place of cyberpunk in the current of postmodern fiction and critical thinking. Fiction was provided by Gibson, Sterling, Shirley, Rucker, Disch, Delaney, Laidlaw and Mark Leyner.
The new version has been re-edited (the forum section is gone) and expanded to 388 pages. A new "list of cultural artifacts that helped shape the cyberpunk ideology and aesthetic," called "Cyberpunk 101" has been added as well as many more fiction excerpts that would come under Sterling's definition of slipstream (pomo fiction that uses tropes previously relegated only to SF). Writers here include Kathy Acker, Don DeLillo, William Vollmann, Ted Mooney, and others. This version also includes cyberart from James O'Barr, Ferret, and our pal John Bergin (including the award-winning cover). On the essay side, work has been added by Fredric Jameson, Arthur Kroker, and Joan Gordon. Gordon's essay "Yin and Yang Duke It Out," on women in cyberlit, was featured in the main Beyond Cyberpunk! stack (see the Manifestoes zone).
This hefty volume is an invaluable resource, especially for those new to cyberpunk and related art and fiction. It makes a great companion volume to Beyond Cyberpunk!, too.
Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction
edited by Larry McCaffery
Duke University Press
1992, 387 pgs., pb, $17.95
graphic: James O'Barr
Here is the TEXT POPUP for Storming the Reality Studio:
i haven't fucked much with the past but i've fucked plenty with the future.
- Patti Smith
Postmodern SF concerns:
The contrast between human "meat" and metal, the relationship between human memory and computer memory; the denaturing of the human body and the transformation of time and space in the postindustrial world; the increasingly abstract interaction of data and images in this world; the primacy of information in the "dance of data" that compromises so much of life today... the ongoing angst and paranoia that some overarching demiurge is manipulating individuals and international politics; the mystical sense that our creation and re-creation of data and images produces systems capable of merging with one another into new intelligences; the spectre haunting nearly all postmodern SF - the uneasy recognition that our primal urge to replicate our consciousness and physical beings (into images, words, machine replicants, computer symbols) is not leading us closer to the dream of immortality, but is merely creating a pathetic parody, a metaexistence or simulacra of our essences that is supplanting us, literally taking over our physical space and our roles with admirable proficiency and without the drawbacks of human error and waste, without the human emotions of love, anger, ambition, and jealousy that jeopardize the efficiency and predictability of the capitalist exchange - without, in short, the messy, unruly passions which also make the brief movement from conception to death so exhilarating and so frightening. And so human.
- Larry McCaffery