Cyberpunk Rumblings

I’ve been thinking a lot about cyberpunk lately. No matter what its current fate in the literary fashion sweepstakes, I always had a great affinity for the genre and always will. No matter that its original young turks are now all too old and respectable to wield the crowbar with proper leverage. Sadly, the Ramones and the Sex Pistols are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s the fate of all punks to mellow or die, and they tend to do some of each.

William Gibson will be in my little town tomorrow accepting an honorary doctorate. It makes sense as he was born in this town. I’ve heard smatterings of outrage because apparently he speaks unkindly of Conway SC. He’ll be getting a “Doctor of Humane Letters” which leaves me wondering of they’ve actually read his books. His work has many wonderful virtues but humane is not at the top of the list. They may not have the option to give a “Doctor of Inhumane Letters.” I have Spook Country but haven’t read it yet. I’ve fallen off the Gibson pace in recent years but I still count him as equal influence with JG Ballard and William S. Burroughs in shattering my patterns of thinking and leading me somewhere new.

Bruce Sterling posted a link to a bit wondering if “cyberpunk is dead.” He has some analysis that I love and find applicable in our ongoing food fights as to whether “podcasting is dead” or “vlogging is dead.”

Just for the record, nothing can be “dead” when people have to anxiously declare it “dead.” Once it’s REALLY dead, nobody publicly frets about its deadness. Broadway theater’s been dying for about a century, “belle lettres” has been dying for, gosh, maybe 250 years now. You have to get used to that.

Right on, brother Brucie! Rather than getting pissed off, I’ll just treat the declarations of things I care about as “dead” as a sign of their vitality. From henceforth, such things will be considered self-contradictory just by existing. That was easy. Staples easy button easy, in fact.

Rudy Rucker is so far from a young turk that he’s retired now, which gives him more free time to post weird shit on his blog and blow my mind. He seems like a true case of someone with no off switch. I’m still subscribed to his audio feed and get whatever he chooses to post on it.

And just now I noticed something in common with all three of these guys: all grew up in the south and no longer live there. Gibson: South Carolina and Virgina and now in Vancouver BC. Sterling: Texas and now in Beograde. Rucker: Kentucky and now in California. If only the south made more people weird like these guys, we’d really have something!

2 Replies to “Cyberpunk Rumblings”

  1. By far the most interesting class I took at GMU was Cyberpunk. Syllabus here: http://tinyurl.com/46bmtx

    We read Neuromancer and discussed how times had changed and become more and more like Gibson’s vision of the future. Just take a look at many of the “new and wonderful” products out there allowing you to chip your kids, etc. Heck, your posting about the softball team has been one of the few positives I’ve seen in the news lately – so, is Gibson’s dystopia really fiction anymore?

    I am oversimplifying, but it does seem that many cyberpunk books and movies have been accurate predictions of the future. When new technologies arrive the headlines often reference the original concepts back to cyberpunk sources. (See the new advertisements being projected onto buildings a la Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”)

    Outrage does not negate respect where respect is due! (: I’m looking forward to the ideas of the “next generation” of cyberpunk authors. The idea that is it “dead” is silly .. the name may be killed off or morphed into something else, but that’s just the label, not the meat.

  2. Interesting post. Definitely need to follow up more on these guys. They’ve been on my radar but find that the Net causes radar screen to grow incrementally each day. Point on the eccentricity of those mentioned-I had always heard that the South much closer to it’s English origins on the eccentricity factor. Your observation seems to lend credence to that line of thought.

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