introducing readers to writers since 1995

March 03, 2005

"Cyberpunk Simply Means Anything Cyberpunks Write"

by Ron Hogan

Poet Ron Silliman has a blog--and last week he turned his attention to Bruce Sterling, the "most serious intellectual thinker" among the cyberpunks who "often use the speculative devices associated with sci-fi" but "aren’t sci-fi writers in the traditional sense at all." Why not? "[T]hey’re interested in exploring the possibilities of society, history & technology, broad categories of concern that can go in a lot of different directions."

As you might expect if you've read this site for any length of time, that's what I think "the traditional sense" of science fiction is, and that what the cyberpunks did was to foreground that in fictional worlds that, as they progressed, got less alien--closer and closer to our actual modern world, so that Sterling's Zeitgeist or Gibson's Pattern Recognition are perfect fits with most of both authors' earlier work and with non-SF social novels like Kurt Andersen's Turn of the Century. And Silliman's right to point out that while Zeitgeist can be fun, it can also be somewhat frustrating; if I was going to steer somebody towards Sterling with the immediate goal of getting them hooked on his stories, I'd show them Distraction... In fact, I'll do that right now.

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