Tag Archives | Cyberpunk

An Atlas Of The Worlds Of Cyberspace

Maps of the physical world are obsolete. The vintage web page Atlas of Cyberspaces offers a strange and wonderful collection of nineties-era renderings of digital geographies – including physical infrastructure, virtual gaming realms, website and surfing structures, flows of communication, and more:

This is an atlas of maps and graphic representations of the geographies of the new electronic territories of the Internet, the World-Wide Web and other emerging Cyberspaces.

These maps of Cyberspaces – cybermaps – help us visualise and comprehend the new digital landscapes beyond our computer screen, in the wires of the global communications networks and vast online information resources.

Some of the maps you will see in the Atlas of Cyberspaces will appear familiar, using the cartographic conventions of real-world maps, however, many of the maps are much more abstract representations of electronic spaces, using new metrics and grids.

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Bruce Sterling On Technology, Our Fate, And Eternity

Publisher 40kBooks has fresh answers from key science fiction and futurism writer Bruce Sterling, in response to questions from Cory Doctorow and others:

[Is the world] improved by technology? From the point of view of almost anything in this world that’s not a human being like you and me, the answer’s almost certainly No. You might get a few Yea votes from albino rabbits and gene-spliced tobacco plants. Ask any living thing that’s been around in the world since before the Greeks made up the word “technology,” like say a bristlecone pine or a coral reef.

It’s mostly the past’s things that will outlive us. Things that have already successfully lived a long time, such as the Pyramids, are likely to stay around longer than 99.9% of our things. It’s a bit startling to realize that it’s mostly our paper that will survive us as data, while our electronics will succumb to erasure, loss, and bit rot.

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William Gibson Answers Readers’ Questions on Intelligence Communities, Style and More

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Photo: Gonzo Bonzo (CC)

Here are some notes from an older (September 2010) questions and answers session from William Gibson’s Zero History tour. Via Technoccult:

Asked about the intelligence communities in his books

I don’t want anyone to think I’ve gone “Tom Clancy” but what you find is that you have fans in every line of work. How reliable those narrators are I don’t know, but they tell a good story.

Asked about humor in his work.

Neuromancer was not without a comedic edge. My cyberpunk colleagues and I back in our cyberpunk rat hole sniggered mightily as we slapped our knees.

But writers can’t have more than two hooks. “Gritty, punky,” sure. “Gritty, punky, funny” doesn’t work.

I asked him about the slogan “Never in fashion, always in style” because I read that slogan on his blog and never found out what company that slogan actually belonged to.

Aero Leathers in Scotland.

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Secret City: Illegal Architecture of Taiwan

TaipeiMany cities in Asia proper, have captured the imaginations of authors, specifically science fiction writers, due in large part due to their disjointed, chaotic, and multi-layered nature. These cities have a tendency to map their histories, migration patterns, linguistic groups and associated economic levels onto the very architecture and design of the city. In Taipei much of the building is done illegally, in ‘secret’ places all around the city, particularly by rural migrants, artists and experimental architects. This has resulted in some very dynamic and cyber-punk worthy designs that further colour the fabric of Taipei. Via Web Urbanist:

Beyond the ‘official city’ of Taipei, where modernization and beautification efforts are glossing over the city’s natural and historical origins, there’s Instant City. Using Taipei’s conventional modern architecture as a platform and energy source, this network of illegal architecture attaches itself ‘like a parasite’ to create unsanctioned urban farms, night markets and other social gathering places.

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Dreaming of Electric Sheep

End Of The WorldIn this column for Toronto Standard, Emily Keeler asks, “Are Dystopic literary visions becoming the way of the world?” Call me Henry Case, but i think she might be on to something.

Okay, it’s true: I tend to prefer fiction to fact. Though some journalists (and essayists) who work with what you might call “reality” get my gears going, I typically think stories are better, if only because they offer a window to a different, much less banal world. I learned early that novels are a place to run to, islands of respite from the endless rowing across the boring and tedious ocean between birth and death. It’s a place, to abuse a phrase associated with one of fiction’s loudest champions, where I can go to get away from being already pretty much away from it all. Stories relieve me of myself, from the blandness of my mostly apolitical and largely unremarkable life, and none more so than fictions of the mystifying future.

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Address To The Industrial Nation

CyberpunK-2YOU will be pleased to know … actually … let’s start at the beginning. All systems are a product of their histories. Events over time shape the state of OS and application software both for good and bad; while users make forward progress on productive work, bugs and malicious software may destabilize and corrupt their efforts. External events to a historical version of a virtual monitor ma-chine. Replay is intentionally non-deterministic, and may be parametrized as to modify the stream of events that are delivered. In the second, analysis stage, the engine pro-state as mutable through time has been the subject of many tools to assist with semantic comparisons between the resulting alternate states.

Now, a lot of people like to talk about “industrial musicK” like they know what they’re talking about. They only talk of machine drums, sequencers set on 16th-note patterns, barre cords, tedious vocal distortion and sound bites sampled from A Scanner Darkly.… Read the rest

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Is Lisbeth Salander a Cyberpunk Hero?

Lisbeth SalanderAuthor Sasha Mitchell compares how cyberpunk is defined by Stieg Larsson, by Hollywood, and by Google. Mitchell compares Lisbeth Salander to William Gibson’s heroines (arguing that she’s a combination of Gibson’s female and male protagonists), but saying the ultimate message of her archetype is “screw labels”. (“Does she really need to be sexualized to the extent … Hollywood illustrators would have her be?”)

In The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth “spreads resistant messages despite powerful mechanisms of top-down control,” which is ultimately a more empowering message than what you get from searching “cyberpunk” on Google Images. (“Note, if you will, how many topless, pantsless, or pigtailed schoolgirls you see here.”) But even Gibson himself once argued the cutting-edge of cyberpunk is too unfamiliar to be defined.… Read the rest

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F242: PULSE

I guess I should start by saying what a big fan I am of Front 242. From Geography to UP EVIL & OFF and everything in between. Then a couple of years ago I finally got my hands on their 2003 release, PULSE.

The track listing was very intriguing — I was excited by the prospect of entering a new world of ‘cyberpunk” soundscapes augmented by an erotic delirium of industrial proportions … something about sorcery enhanced by cybernetic implants for cross-dressing degenerates. But then I actually listened to it … and the magic was gone. I eventually ‘unchecked’ all the tracks of the album and deemed it a lost cause and failure.

Oh, the irony. Cut to a few days ago when looking to free up some space on my HD I set my sights on iTunes. I inevitably sought out the unchecked tracks that’s when PULSE was put back on my radar.… Read the rest

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Cyberpunk on the Small Screen (Video)

CyberpunkGood day, Cybernauts. We’ve been enjoying this endearing flick for some time, but are just now getting around to posting about it.

Cyberpunk is a 60-minute documentary from 1990 that serves as a charming bookend to the William Gibson documentary No Maps for These Territories. While Gibson is featured prominently in this doc, it also expands out to illuminate an entire slice of the late ’80s/early ’90s culture that used to be featured in the late, great Mondo 2000 magazine.

Cyberpunk Review offers these insights:

Cyberpunk is a documentary that looks back at the 80s cyberpunk movement, and more specifically, how this has led to a trend in the “real” world where people were starting to refer to themselves as “cyberpunk.” The documentary sees “cyberpunks” as being synonymous with hackers. A number of writers, artists, musicians and scientists are interviewed to provide context to this movement. The guiding meme, as told by Gibson, is that information “wants” to be free. 60s counter-culture drug philosopher, Timothy Leary, provides a prediction that cyberpunks will “decentralize knowledge,” which will serve to remove power from those “in power” and bring it back to the masses. Many different potential technologies are discussed, including “smart drugs,” sentient machines, advanced prosthetics — all of which serve to give context to the idea of post-humanity and its imminent arrival on the world stage.

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Annalee Newitz: How ‘Max Headroom’ Predicted My Job, 20 Years Before It Existed

Max HeadroomVery interesting essay from Annalee Newitz on io9.com. If you grew up watching American television in the ’80s this was one of the weirdest and most interesting shows on network TV, even for kids like myself who didn’t fully grasp the implications of what I was seeing on the screen. (The show obviously baffled many adults as well, since it only lasted fourteen episodes, thankfully the entire series has finally been released on DVD.)

Making sense of it all and putting the show in perspective twenty years later is Annalee Newitz on io9.com:

For those who don’t know the premise of the 1987—88 series, where every episode begins with the tagline “twenty minutes into the future,” here’s a quick recap. Investigative reporter Edison Carter works for Network 23 in an undefined cyberpunk future, where all media is ad-supported and ratings rule all. Reporters carry “rifle cameras,” gun-shaped video cameras, which are wirelessly linked back to a “controller” in the newsroom. Edison’s controller is Theora, who accesses information online — everything from apartment layouts to secret security footage — to help him with investigations.

They’re aided in their investigations by a sarcastic AI named Max Headroom, built by geek character Bryce and based on Edison’s memories. Sometimes producer Murray (Jeffrey Tambor) helps out, as does Reg, a pirate TV broadcaster known as a “blank” because he’s erased his identity from corporate databases.

In the world of Max Headroom, it’s illegal for televisions to have an off switch. Terrorists are reality TV stars. And super-fast subliminal advertisements called blipverts have started to blow people up by overstimulating the nervous systems of people who are sedentary and eat too much fat…

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