The Street Finds Its Own Uses
November 16, 2022 2:46 PM   Subscribe

This assumption is the core of post-cyberpunk’s body politic. We are subtly conditioned to believe that the optimal way to fix the world is to fix the system — luring us into a state of realism where we must work with those who rule over us, as opposed to implementing the radical solutions that have in the past led to the kind of change the world is in desperate need of right now. from The Rise and Fall of Cyberpunk
posted by chavenet (69 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Cyber was a product of its time. Still, Mike Lindell finds his own use, along with the board game geeks.

Cyberpunk was also about using science (and particularly technology underpinned by science) to escape the limits of mortality, of flesh and bone. Perhaps best exemplified by Gibson's trio of Case, Virek, and Bobby, antagonists who are in conflict with the corporate AIs, his books' real protagonists, who are the ones that drive the story and its characters forwards.

Even current sci-fi/fantasy literature and film seem focused on multiple universes or timelines — including the latest of Gibson's own efforts — to the extent that they use what current understanding we have of our universe to create entertainments for an audience that still desperately wants to escape this reality.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 3:14 PM on November 16 [7 favorites]


When you think about it, however, it should come as no surprise that a genre whose aesthetic was primarily influenced by the youth-oriented punk movement would entice media conglomerates to carelessly slap it onto properties having nothing to do with cyberpunk, like “Batman Beyond” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” (in the Saturday morning cartoon adaptation).

Now that's a very specific reference I wasn't expecting to see in an article about cyberpunk. And I think that's kind of cool, because that Sonic cartoon was definitely my and probably lots of other people's introduction to the genre (Batman Beyond came a few years later).

This trend would soon proliferate in all forms of children’s entertainment, making one thing clear: Cyberpunk had been hacked.

I think he's giving capitalism too much credit. I would argue the reason cyberpunk seeped into children's entertainment was because that's what the writers were into and in a lot of cases they didn't have a whole lot of oversight or direction. That Centurions episode with the Neuromancer references sounds very much in the mold of that Real Ghostbusters episode with Cthulhu and the Necronomicon--it's just something the writer thought was cool and got away with because the execs weren't genre savvy enough to notice.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 3:58 PM on November 16 [15 favorites]


The sheer speed with which cyberpunk went from a critique to a cozy aesthetic was breathtaking.
As the article says, it effectively has no meaning now except as a collection of cool shit to insert into deeply conservative fictional worlds.
For a couple of years though it was, or seemed to be, genuinely radical and it's still preferable to the naked fascism of, say, the MCU .
posted by thatwhichfalls at 4:01 PM on November 16 [9 favorites]


This seems VERY concerned with kids cartoons of the late 80s/early 90s.
posted by Artw at 4:06 PM on November 16 [8 favorites]


Remember that Neuromancer came out in 1984, when the internet wasn't really much of a thing. And in the decade that followed, the online space developed in a way to make "The Matrix" seem quaint as a concept. Who needs a hot Ono-Sendai when your PC can do the same thing only much easier?

Interesting that in the Sprawl trilogy, references to cyberspace changes dramatically.

And Case and Bobby as "antagonists"? Two of those were more or less the protagonists of their novels.

This was an interesting read nonetheless.
posted by Windopaene at 4:30 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


Is there a need for cyberpunk today? Given what has become of the genre, it seems unlikely, but, as Gibson said, the street finds its own uses for things.

in the age of Meta, Musk, Amazon, and crypto scams? I would argue that yes there is a need for art that grapples with the intersection of tech, labor, bodies, gender, etc... just don't go looking for it in AAA video games and Hollywood movies (altho Matrix 4 certainly gets credit for effort). instead go to the fringes like indie video games and dead card games

thought the criticism of Æon Flux was a bit unfair... only so much you can expect from a few hours of TV that is also as weird and horny as that show.
posted by okonomichiyaki at 4:35 PM on November 16 [9 favorites]


Even current sci-fi/fantasy literature and film seem focused on multiple universes or timelines

Yes, but that's because the multiverse is an easy way to justify endless reboots and remakes of the same stories. And that's done because no one wants to spend $300 million dollars making and marketing a movie based on an original, unproven concept.

It's not a longing for escapism, it's an inability to escape capitalism.
posted by AlSweigart at 4:45 PM on November 16 [20 favorites]


The sheer speed with which cyberpunk went from a critique to a cozy aesthetic was breathtaking.

Steampunk looks on with envy.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:55 PM on November 16 [4 favorites]


In the case of The Peripheral (book) it still manages to be about the grinding inevitability of our oncoming disasters, so it’s not really much of a dodge into escapism.

(Also I’d say the “Justified with drones” approach to 2032 managed to be way more cyberpunk in spirit than any number of properties adopting the neon and mirror shades aesthetic)
posted by Artw at 4:56 PM on November 16 [8 favorites]


We've always had time travel stories of course, but I know little "literature" that employs multiple universes, maybe just The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick and The Golden Compass, etc by Philip Pullman. Yes, I know comics adore multiple universes because of capitalism.

Afaik, sci-fi novel writers lean heavily towards CliFi now anyways, or at least use climate or ecological collapse elements. We had post-apocalyptic settings for ages, but now writers just have so much more information about how our society shall collapse.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:05 PM on November 16 [2 favorites]


The idea that cyberpunk was once different and better and totally non-corporate is about as deep as the idea that all the new music is bad, unlike the rockers of our youth.

Was Neuromancer about "radical solutions"? The corporations and the AIs win. I'm not a great fan of Cyberpunk 2077, but it's just not true that its message is to "work with those who rule over us".

As for corporations adopting cyberpunk imagery, anyone remember the 1984 Apple ad about smashing the oppressors by buying a Macintosh?
posted by zompist at 5:11 PM on November 16 [13 favorites]


The Street Finds Its Own Uses

… but so does the state.
posted by mhoye at 5:19 PM on November 16 [9 favorites]


I mean if we’re taking alternate timelines stories Mirrorshades has a very fine one by the cyberpunk manifesto writer himself.
posted by Artw at 5:19 PM on November 16 [4 favorites]


Back in the 90’s I was at a book reading with Mr Gibson. When question time came up, the first enthusiastically asked question was “What kind of computer do you use?” He answered, “I don’t write with a computer.” A sigh of disappointment crossed the room.
posted by njohnson23 at 5:30 PM on November 16 [7 favorites]


The most cyberpunk answer of all, you losers that have never heard of van eck phreaking are all going to end up with your novels stolen.
posted by Artw at 5:36 PM on November 16 [13 favorites]


I'm not convinced by their assessment of post-cyberpunk. I'd like to see some citations, even if only to expand my own understanding.

To my mind post-cyberpunk is the natural consequence of a genre that is so close to the future that they - embarrassingly - can and then do touch. Authors age a few years, have a kid, watch neoliberalism divide and conquer and coopt, watch movements fail and critiques evolve, and all of a sudden cyberpunk can be so naïve. It may still delight, but it's a genre for new things: new ideas or new readers. For old ideas and old readers we have post-cyberpunk. It's not "inadvertently reaffirming" what cyberpunk fought against, it's a dose of reality or upfront disagreement. And less grimdark pessimism for the future (citations?) would be because we live in cyberpunk times and we can look outside and for the most part it's fine even while it's gotten worse, so we have precedent.
posted by tychotesla at 5:41 PM on November 16 [5 favorites]


> The sheer speed with which cyberpunk went from a critique to a cozy aesthetic was breathtaking.

Just like punk punk!
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:44 PM on November 16 [10 favorites]


Clue very much in the name, yes.
posted by Artw at 5:49 PM on November 16 [1 favorite]


I was pretty young at the time but I don’t remember cyberpunk being touted as a critical cure-all to dystopia at its inception. Gibson has said time and time again that at the time he thought Neuromancer was a positive outlook on the future.
What I remember was that cyberpunk was touted as 1. An alternative to the nuclear-age SF that had been dominant for so long and 2. Allied with futurism as an attempt to get closer to talking about current science and technology and it’s impact on society. And even looking back I think it did a pretty good job.

The problem to me seems to be that society has mistaken the societal resiliency displayed in those novels for an aesthetic goal in its own right. Which happens in pretty much every genre, so color me unsurprised.
posted by q*ben at 6:22 PM on November 16 [7 favorites]


Preface to Mirrorshades

Cyberpunk is a natural extension of elements already present in science fiction, elements sometimes buried but always seething with potential. Cyberpunk has risen from within the SF genre; it is not an invasion but a modern reform. Because of this, its effect within the genre has been rapid and powerful.

Its future is an open question. Like the artists of punk and New Wave, the cyberpunk writers, as they develop, may soon be galloping in a dozen directions at once.

It seems unlikely that any label will hold them for long. Science fiction today is in a rare state of ferment. The rest of the decade may well see a general plague of movements, led by an increasingly volatile and numerous Eighties generation. The eleven authors here are only a part of this broad wave of writers, and the group as a whole already shows signs of remarkable militancy and fractiousness. Fired by a new sense of SF's potential, writers are debating, rethinking, teaching old dogmas new tricks. Meanwhile, cyberpunk's ripples continue to spread, exciting some, challenging others and outraging a few, whose pained remonstrances are not yet fully heard.

The future remains unwritten, though not from lack of trying

posted by Artw at 6:26 PM on November 16 [6 favorites]


The New Science Fiction

What, in short, is the New Science Fiction? How do you write it, how do you recognize it?

First, it is not the property of any editor, clique, publisher, or regional or national association. It is not a question of personal influence, creative writing classes, or apprenticeship to genre gurus. It is a question of approach, of technique. And these are its trademarks:

(1) Technological literacy, and a concern with genuine modern science as opposed to the hand-me-down pseudoscience guff of past decades.

(2) Imaginative concentration, in which extrapolations are thoroughly and originally worked out rather than patched together from previous notions.

(3) Visionary intensity, with a bold, no-holds-barred approach to sf's mind-expanding potential.

(4) A global, 21st-century point of view, which is not bound by the assumptions of middle-aged, middle-class white American males.

(5) A fictional technique which takes the advances of the New Wave as already given, using the full range of literary craftsmanship, yet asserting the primacy of content over style and meaning over mannerism.

The New Science Fiction is a process, directed toward a goal. It is an artistic _movement _in the fullest sense of the word. It is the hard work of dedicated artists, who know their work is worthwhile, who treat it as such, and who push themselves to the limit in pursuit of excellence.

And it is for real.


You know what? All of that seems kind of useful and worth striving towards now. Probably not as “cyberpunk” anymore, and probably not seeming all that special or innovative since most of it has been pretty internalized by Sf snd fiction as a whole, but still, worthwhile goals.
posted by Artw at 6:36 PM on November 16 [7 favorites]


Whereas cyberpunk characters aim to topple, exploit or retaliate against corrupt social orders

Like, what?
posted by Slothrup at 7:04 PM on November 16 [3 favorites]


>> The sheer speed with which cyberpunk went from a critique to a cozy aesthetic was breathtaking.

> Steampunk looks on with envy.


yeah, but... steampunk was never a critique, it was only ever just an aesthetic.
posted by 7segment at 7:06 PM on November 16 [12 favorites]


“Goths, but in brown”
posted by Artw at 7:09 PM on November 16 [18 favorites]


I do remember that at some point anticolonial steampunk was going to be a thing, but I think anything that came out of that nimbly ditched the label ad just became interesting fantasy.
posted by Artw at 7:16 PM on November 16 [4 favorites]


zompist: The idea that cyberpunk was once different and better and totally non-corporate is about as deep as the idea that all the new music is bad, unlike the rockers of our youth.

Thanks, I was trying earlier to put my problems with this article in words and that sums it up nicely. The author wants to believe that cyberpunk was originally, heavens, a "movement" and that it was somehow pure, with this episode of some cartoon lifting only the aesthetics, when Blade Runner was entirely a corporate product, albeit a really stylish one with a surprising amount of soul. Even in the neon-drenched, pretty-desperate-but-also-kind-of-cool-like-1970s-Times-Square-but-with-bionics world of the day after tomorrow, nostalgia is a hell of a drug.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:56 PM on November 16 [5 favorites]


>> The sheer speed with which cyberpunk went from a critique to a cozy aesthetic was breathtaking.

> Steampunk looks on with envy.

yeah, but... steampunk was never a critique, it was only ever just an aesthetic.


The reading I'm going to offer is a bit reductive but it's been helpful to me.

Here it goes: cyberpunk (in its original incarnation) was a critical intensification of the Reagan-Thatcher revolution that was happening when it came out. It dramatizes the withdrawal of government from the public sphere, the dismantling of the social state, and the vanishing of political horizons and collective action. Into the vacuum of the public come the corporate conglomerates, which take the tasks of governance into their own hands. Employees become (de facto or de jure) property of their employers as the state withdraws. You are trained, managed, and cyberenhanced by the corporation, and if you try to leave they might kill you. Corporate security substitutes for public security. In Count Zero iirc, the ISP blows up the Bobby's house because they don't like what he's doing online.

The role of the computer in cyberpunk is it is the privatization of law. Instead of the state formulating policies that it carries out through human agencies, the corporations formulate policies that are carried out automatically by machines. "Black ICE," software that kills you if you try to do something unauthorized on the network, stands for the inheritance by the corporations of the state monopoly on violence. Acting through the agencies of the state is no longer necessary because the corporations can both govern and enforce their rule directly.

A lot of the excitement in the cyberpunk stories grew out of this background of social anarchy. The war of corporate all against all meant that there were opportunities for freelancers, street samurai and technical boys, to face great dangers but simultaneously be cool and reap rewards. Gibson called hackers "cowboys" because they played a role like the gunslingers in the fantasy of the genre Western. Because on the new frontier, law is just code, it can fall to fast-typing loners to oppose, break, or even be the law, just like the man riding into town on the white horse. This is also what the possibilities of resistance grow out of. But, in the stories I think of anyway, this resistance is rarely political. The political does not really exist. Instead, the resistance we see is individuals or small groups trying to better their own lots among the cracks in the system.

Gibson said he considered the genre optimistic because it usually takes place in a world that hasn't been devastated by nuclear war. Furthermore, while the conditions it depicts represent a decline relative to what has sometimes been available in rich democracies, they're not necessarily worse than the conditions lots of other people had already been living under for ages at the time. Cyberpunk imagines the Reagan-Thatcher era as bringing to the first world the conditions of hypercapitalist rule that had already been imposed on other parts of the world. "The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed."

Stephenson takes these themes to a satirical height in Snow Crash, which depicts an America that has been completely subdivided into privately managed gated communities, and a US government in retreat from all but its most weird and evil functions. It is a literal working out of the Thatcher dictum that "There is no such thing as society."

Gibson / Sterling transposed basically the same vision to steampunk with The Difference Engine. It sort of imagines that the world could get fucked up in mostly all the same ways if the computing revolution took off in the 19th century. In this interview the authors explicitly say that the novel's Lady and Lord Byron are ciphers for Thatcher and Reagan respectively. (They are also clear that this is not a Good Thing.)

I didn't say the word "neoliberalism" but I guess it's sort of obvious and worth it just for indexing if nothing else. tldr it's about neoliberalism in a rather dialed in and specific sense.
posted by grobstein at 8:54 PM on November 16 [52 favorites]


I think, building on from grobstein's reading, one of the problems of cyberpunk as a genre is that it's so dialled into the specific concerns of the 80s that, as those concerns become either naive or realistic, it no longer has the same power as a critique. You'd have to reboot it with the concerns of the 2020s, but you can't do that and also keep the aesthetic. So cyberpunk now is all, inevitably, aesthetic.
posted by Merus at 9:24 PM on November 16 [6 favorites]


If you’re doing “cyberpunk” now and labeling it as such you might actually just be doing, whisper it, “80s retro”.
posted by Artw at 9:42 PM on November 16 [3 favorites]


Enjoyed this but disappointed to find no discussion of "Freejack" or "Shadowrun." I feel it will be hard to explain to my children why it was ever cool to pretend to be struggling to log in while standing in a trash-strewn alley full of junked CRTs.
posted by johngoren at 2:27 AM on November 17 [7 favorites]


I was in junior high when Necromancer came out and it never struck me as a social critique the way that, say, 1984 or The Handmaid's Tale had. Gibson didn't write from a place of horror about what we would become but of fascination. If there was a critique it was the out-of-touch utopian space operas of the time that posited a world of endless progress. Cyberpunk accepted the grittiness and imperfection of our world as fact and proposed that too could be more interesting and fascinating than the shiny, impossible worlds of Star Trek. I never felt like, in these worlds, corporate dominance was a thing that could be controlled any more than a typhoon or earthquake could be controlled. This is just what would happen as communication, technology and global commerce allowed private companies to amass more power than nations.
posted by bl1nk at 4:46 AM on November 17 [6 favorites]


As the Iron Lady also said, "There is no alternative."
posted by grobstein at 7:45 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]


And less grimdark pessimism for the future (citations?) would be because we live in cyberpunk times and we can look outside and for the most part it's fine even while it's gotten worse, so we have precedent.

Can we please call this asthetic/genre Metapunk?

It's like cyberpunk, but the graphics are shitty and the virtual worlds are filled with everyone's obnoxious right-wing uncles.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:13 AM on November 17 [2 favorites]


So by analogy cyberFilter would be....
posted by chavenet at 8:30 AM on November 17


I’m quite a fan of Punk Punk.
posted by Artw at 8:35 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]


I would argue that the cyberpunk "schism," between its politics and aesthetics, mirrors the original schism of punk.

There was the punk that was fiercely leftist in nature, emphasizing the degradation of the individual by institutions controlled by the rich and powerful, and then there was the "individualism" of more nihilistic punk that encouraged hedonism and flirted with sociopathy. In the more politically-savvy vision, the answer to individual oppression was the forming of collectives; in the hedonistic, nihilistic version, atomization was ultimately seen as a good thing, in the fuck-you-got-mine sense.

Similarly, there's the cyberpunk that (as grobstein emphasized above) critiqued neoliberalism—privatized systems of law and order, technology as a means by which to intensify inequality—and then there was the cyberpunk that just thought it was really cool to flip the Man the bird. The latter never really had an ethos; it inevitably turned reactionary, because when your enemy is defined by "any kind of organization, ever" you wind up hissing at any new attempt to impose order, justice, or collectivism.

This reflects the actual culture of early tech, in which utopians were gradually replaced by people who saw "tech" as an excuse to impose a new corporate order on the world, divorced from governments who couldn't keep up with its "innovations" quickly enough to regulate it. Hell, you could even just point to the way that V For Vendetta, which started as an anarchist critique of Thatcherism, gave way to the Guy Fawkes-mask-loving alt-right. Or to The Matrix, for that matter.

I think that this is ultimately the problem with a lot of dystopia-fetishizing culture (including the original punk and cyberpunk). It's hard to entwine the aesthetic thrill of saying fuck-you to the evil faceless system with the sociopolitical thesis of just what makes those systems so evil and so faceless. Utopian art has its flaws, but I don't think it's been quite as immediately corroded: I don't hear much about Ursula K. Le Guin imitators going full fash.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 8:44 AM on November 17 [10 favorites]


We allegedly have a full fash Banks fan though.

(I don’t believe he’s ever read a book FWIW)
posted by Artw at 8:57 AM on November 17 [2 favorites]


There was a guy in college who was a huge TNG fan but also the president of our college Republicans. He'd reconcile this pointing out all the "capitalist subtext" that the rest of us were completely ignorant of and he'd get into long debates about how the Enterprise was a military vessel and how of course they don't use any money there.

Surprisingly, he'd never seen DS9 so there was never any mention of gold-pressed latinum in any of his arguments....
posted by RonButNotStupid at 9:10 AM on November 17 [3 favorites]


For a couple of years though it was, or seemed to be, genuinely radical

Up to this point, maybe.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:13 AM on November 17 [3 favorites]


Other people are saying a lot of what I wanted to but while there was a significant strain of social and political critique to early cyberpunk, I think this article overstates how much it was ever at the core of the genre. I always thought the real point of cyberpunk was to transpose hard-boiled crime fiction to a near-future setting.
posted by atoxyl at 9:13 AM on November 17 [6 favorites]


Synners held up last time I reread it. At least one of the subplots is about building a new society in the dregs of the old, that helps.
posted by clew at 9:14 AM on November 17 [2 favorites]


Though cyberpunk settings were unabashedly dystopian, writers assumed that conflicts surrounding race, gender, nationality and sexual orientation would be absent in the future — often swapped out for technophobia, rophobia (bigotry against machines and AI), transhumanism (the movement that seeks to promote human enhancement through robotic means) and AI.

One could write a lot about why SF writers choose to address prejudice by analogy like this, but it really goes back a bit further in the history of the genre than cyberpunk. Though I suppose the prior generation of writers most interested in this kind of commentary can be considered an influence on cyberpunk.
posted by atoxyl at 9:19 AM on November 17 [1 favorite]


METAFILTER: It's not a longing for escapism, it's an inability to escape capitalism.
posted by philip-random at 10:05 AM on November 17 [3 favorites]


This tweet from James Davis Nicoll made me giggle immoderately yesterday: "One hasn't really collapsed into a pile of aged dust until one sits next to a much younger poll worker reading her granddad's copy of Neuromancer."

It was definitely a genre with a very brief, if strong, peak.
posted by tavella at 10:15 AM on November 17 [5 favorites]


It was definitely a genre with a very brief, if strong, peak.

Well that hits on another interesting thing, which is the tension in the contemporary use of cyberpunk as a setting between the parts that are nostalgic, a past vision of the future, and the parts that were prescient.
posted by atoxyl at 12:26 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


Or: cyberpunk future happened, but we don’t look as cool living in it as we hoped we would.
posted by atoxyl at 12:26 PM on November 17 [8 favorites]


Dynamically pulls off mirrorshades and thrusts them in the pocket of ankle-length dusty leather trenchcoat
Oh yeah?
posted by thatwhichfalls at 1:09 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]




Googling the William Gibson quote in the title led me to this fun article about McDonald's coffee spoons (which I had fun playing with as a kid) and the war on drugs.
posted by indexy at 1:19 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to Billy Idol?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:28 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]


I forget who originally said that every period piece is secretly about the time in which it was written, not the time in which it is set. But I think that's true. And I think our imaginary futures are the same. Fret not that cyberpunk -- or whatever you want to call it -- no longer has the concerns it had in the 1980s. Fret instead, if you must, that we no longer have the concerns we had in the 1980s.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:38 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]


Whatever happened to Billy Idol?

in my narrow corner of the zeitgeist circa 1993, the cyberpunk promise died with Cyberpunk (the album)
posted by philip-random at 2:19 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]


We've always had time travel stories of course, but I know little "literature" that employs multiple universes, maybe just The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick and The Golden Compass, etc by Philip Pullman.

A few:
This is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
Unholy Land, Lavie Tidhar
The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow
The Space Between Worlds, Micaiah Johnson
Dark Matter, Blake Crouch
All Our Wrong Todays, Elan Mastai
The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
Mefi's own Charles Stross's Merchant Princes books
posted by joannemerriam at 3:19 PM on November 17 [5 favorites]


Is there no love for Transverse City?

Miss you nearly every day, lately, Uncle Warren.
posted by art.bikes at 3:34 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]


Honestly think there’s a string case for Peripheral and Agency bring Gibsons best works.
posted by Artw at 5:14 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


Agreed.

Although Pattern Recognition was pretty great as well. (And Molly was in it)
posted by Windopaene at 5:55 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


The Peripheral is great, but the Blue Ant books are his best…partly because they aren’t science fiction.
posted by lhauser at 6:22 PM on November 17 [2 favorites]


They are certainly "future fiction". How many uber-rich folks are being maintained and kept alive in vats? And space travel, etc. And Zero History and Spook Country were a bit meh I thought.

But I get your point.
posted by Windopaene at 6:26 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


This trend would soon proliferate in all forms of children’s entertainment, making one thing clear: Cyberpunk had been hacked.


Somewhere in my house is a Barbie story book about Barbie fighting off an emoji virus. I had to read this to my 6 year old daughter at bedtime. With a straight face.
posted by ocschwar at 6:48 PM on November 17 [7 favorites]


This is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

One of the best books I read this year. Strongly recommend!
posted by Thorzdad at 5:11 AM on November 18 [2 favorites]


Blue Ant is Slipstream.
posted by Artw at 7:58 AM on November 18 [2 favorites]


Slipstream

thanks for this. I did not realize there was such a genre as Slipstream. Actually I guess I did as it's the kind of thing I find I keep getting drawn to. I just didn't realize somebody had stuck a name to it.

Characteristics

In slipstream, characteristics of works of fiction considered under the term include disruption of the principle of realism, avoidance of being a traditional fantasy story, and being a postmodern narrative.[5] As an emerging genre, slipstream has been described as nonrealistic fiction with a postmodern sensibility, exploring an awareness of societal and technological change and psychological breakdown previously shown by science fiction authors during the time of postmodernism, as well as poets and experimental authors in modernism.[9]

In her 2012 volume Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, Grace Dillon identified a current of Native American Slipstream that predates and anticipates the timeframe for slipstream, notably including Gerald Vizenor's 1978 short story "Custer on the Slipstream".

posted by philip-random at 10:03 AM on November 18 [3 favorites]


It’s, uh, my go-to semi real genre to wisecrack about.

Except for Inferno Krusher. And I joke about Inferno Krusher but I take it very seriously.
posted by Artw at 10:06 AM on November 18 [1 favorite]


Dillon identified a current of Native American Slipstream that predates and anticipates the timeframe for slipstream

Thirs really completes the circle because most functional definitions of slipstream come down to “magic realism, but white people can do it too”.
posted by Artw at 10:08 AM on November 18 [1 favorite]


I have failed to find the Barbie book about the emoji virus, and am bereft.
posted by clew at 2:42 PM on November 18 [4 favorites]




The Barbie talk is reminding me of the book art for Cyberpunk 3.0, which literally used Barbies.
posted by Artw at 8:08 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


They are certainly "future fiction". How many uber-rich folks are being maintained and kept alive in vats? And space travel, etc.

I think you might be mixing up the Blue Ant books and the Sprawl books. The Blue Ant books are all set in the 2010's and the rich guys in vats and space travel stuff is from the Sprawl novels.
As you say, though, the second and third BA novels aren't very good. Almost self-parody to be honest.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:40 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


Yes but you can learn a lot about high fashion reproduction military wear.
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]


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