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Old June 21 2012, 04:45 AM   #1
Yminale
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Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

How Cyberpunk Saved Sci-Fi

I wasn't really thrilled by this essay. Once again it shows bias for so called "hardcore" sci-fi which is a meaningless term. It ignores the development of magical realism as the driving force of Sci-fi from the 60's to now and writers like Ursual K. Le Guin who fundamentally change Sci-fi. It also ignores the fact that "Cyberpunk" owes many of it's tropes to Noir fiction and the works of Raymond Chandler and Dashiel Hammett. I do agree that Sci-fi is at it's best when dealing with uncertainty but I don't there will be a well defined genre (unless you count "whining about how the future sucks" as a genre)
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Old June 21 2012, 04:56 AM   #2
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

The essay is bang-on. I hadn't bothered reading much sf for quite a long time, for the reasons Bacigalupi enumerates and others, and Neuromancer grabbed me and dragged me back in. Cyberpunk, in the most general sense, brought some observation of the world and technology as it was and as it actually was evolving back into the genre, saving it from becoming tidally locked into ritualistic storytelling about FTL spaceships and fucking elves.

That the cyberpunk writers took notice of and used techniques from other genres and mainstream styles - like noir - was one of many pluses.
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Old June 21 2012, 05:15 AM   #3
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

If elves don't fuck where are little elves supposed to come from?
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Old June 21 2012, 05:37 AM   #4
Yminale
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

My Name Is Legion wrote: View Post
TCyberpunk, in the most general sense, brought some observation of the world and technology as it was and as it actually was evolving back into the genre, saving it from becoming tidally locked into ritualistic storytelling about FTL spaceships and fucking elves.
I accept your point of view but it ignores the fact that Sci-fi was moving past the classical 50's space opera by the late 60's. Like I said what about Le Guin and the later works of Philip K Dick and even Robert Heinlein. Cyberpunk's obsession with technology is it's downfall since technology and our relationship with it constantly changes. I mean none of the writer's in the 80's foresaw Google as both a technology and a company. Compare Cyberpunk with say Star Wars. Star Wars feels relevant today while Cyberpunk feels like a product of the 80's
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Old June 21 2012, 11:54 AM   #5
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

The Windup Girl is fantastic. Vivid depiction of a future Thailand where we've both had the economic and ecological crisis and collapse suggested by running out of fossil fuels and the like but also we've advanced significantly in biotechnology (so we're left with a world where, simultaneously, a genetically engineered form of elephant is a standard beast of burden while cars are a rarity, a luxury of the exceptionally wealthy)... and it doesn't hurt that beyond the well concieved premise of the book it's really got quite a good story.

Yminale wrote: View Post
How Cyberpunk Saved Sci-Fi

I wasn't really thrilled by this essay. Once again it shows bias for so called "hardcore" sci-fi which is a meaningless term. It ignores the development of magical realism as the driving force of Sci-fi from the 60's to now and writers like Ursual K. Le Guin who fundamentally change Sci-fi.
It's true the only acknowledgement of 1960s sci-fi in the piece is late-period Heinlein. But honestly LeGuin's science fiction is a very different beast from what cyberpunk was doing. The Lathe of Heaven, The Dispossessed and Left Hand of Darkness are fantastic, but two of them are essentially excerises in extra-solar world-building, and the other one is about altering the world via dreaming... not really engaging with a direct future in the way cyberpunk did.
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Old June 21 2012, 03:19 PM   #6
Yminale
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

Kegg wrote: View Post
The Windup Girl is fantastic.
I heard it's pretty good. That's my next read after Cloud Atlas

not really engaging with a direct future in the way cyberpunk did.
Only as a snapshot of Reagan America and extending it in to future. That's why cyberpunk ultimately failed as a genre. What writers like Gibson didn't realize was how the internet would change and even subvert the assumptions of centralized control. Sure they foresaw the potential of networked computers but they didn't see what the social possibility was. Even Gibson himself acknowledges this in his many interviews.
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Old June 21 2012, 04:32 PM   #7
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

I think Vinge would fit into the genre-at least, along the fringe.
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Old June 21 2012, 09:07 PM   #8
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

Yminale wrote: View Post
Only as a snapshot of Reagan America and extending it in to future. That's why cyberpunk ultimately failed as a genre. What writers like Gibson didn't realize was how the internet would change and even subvert the assumptions of centralized control. Sure they foresaw the potential of networked computers but they didn't see what the social possibility was. Even Gibson himself acknowledges this in his many interviews.
You're judging a genre based on what they got right and wrong as far as predicting the future?

That's just silly. Books are written as an expression of the time they are in.
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Old June 21 2012, 09:20 PM   #9
Yminale
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

Professor Zoom wrote: View Post

You're judging a genre based on what they got right and wrong as far as predicting the future?
Well the claim of supporters of Cyberpunk is it's connection to reality. I'm showing that it's connection was tenuous as best. I also don't think it was as influential as people claim.
That's just silly. Books are written as an expression of the time they are in.
But some books transcend the time their written in. I mentioned in another thread how modern Frankenstein is. Another great example is Ray Bradbury
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Old June 21 2012, 11:17 PM   #10
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

Yminale wrote: View Post
Professor Zoom wrote: View Post

You're judging a genre based on what they got right and wrong as far as predicting the future?
Well the claim of supporters of Cyberpunk is it's connection to reality. I'm showing that it's connection was tenuous as best. I also don't think it was as influential as people claim.
The claim of supporters? Who?
How are you showing it's connection to reality was "tenuous"...? All that you're saying is scifi written in the 1980s didn't predict Google... that's not much of a proof of a failure of a genre.

How about this: what were the GOALS of said genre and did it succeed in them? That might be a better way of judging "failure."

Though to be honest, I think you're mistaking personal dislike for failure as a whole.




That's just silly. Books are written as an expression of the time they are in.
But some books transcend the time their written in. I mentioned in another thread how modern Frankenstein is. Another great example is Ray Bradbury
Highlighted the important part. SOME books transcend their times. And who can predict that? And besides, I honestly don't think a good writer, even GREAT writers are writing to TRANSCEND time... they are trying to speak to NOW (even if they are writing sci-fi.) Bradbury wasn't trying to transcend time with Fahrenheit 451, but he hit on universal themes that have continued to be important.

But, again, I think you're mistaking personal dislike for a "failure" of a genre that was cute popular for years and influence films, comics, and thinking.

oooo, Gibson didn't predict Google.... so what? Verne, Wells, Bradbury, Asimov didn't bat 100% either, are THEY failures?
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Old June 22 2012, 12:56 AM   #11
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

Just give everyone a cell phone and Gibson mostly works.
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Old June 22 2012, 12:58 AM   #12
Yminale
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

Professor Zoom wrote: View Post
The claim of supporters? Who?
Please read the article I linked to in my first post before commenting

How about this: what were the GOALS of said genre and did it succeed in them? That might be a better way of judging "failure."
Well what was Cyberpunk's goal outside of "sticking it to the man" and being full of angst about reality like every other thing with the word -punk in it.

Though to be honest, I think you're mistaking personal dislike for failure as a whole.
I liked Cyberpunk but it's a literary dead end. That's not my assessment that's the father of Cyberpunk, William Gibson's judgement.


Highlighted the important part. SOME books transcend their times.
Sure and Neuromancer is one of them but that's not evidence that the genre is relevant NOW.


oooo, Gibson didn't predict Google.... so what? Verne, Wells, Bradbury, Asimov didn't bat 100% either, are THEY failures?
Both Verne and Wells have pretty high success rates and the future isn't going to be kind to Asimov. This whole argument began when EVERYBODY acknowledged that 50's space opera was intellectually dead.
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Old June 22 2012, 01:26 AM   #13
Professor Zoom
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

Yminale wrote: View Post
Professor Zoom wrote: View Post
The claim of supporters? Who?
Please read the article I linked to in my first post before commenting
Why do you assume I didn't? Because I did. A supporter does not make supporters. It's ONE person's opinion.


How about this: what were the GOALS of said genre and did it succeed in them? That might be a better way of judging "failure."
Well what was Cyberpunk's goal outside of "sticking it to the man" and being full of angst about reality like every other thing with the word -punk in it.
Um. I'm asking YOU. I'm asking you because perhaps you should judge something's success or failures on something more than not predicting Google.


I liked Cyberpunk but it's a literary dead end. That's not my assessment that's the father of Cyberpunk, William Gibson's judgement.
Lots of literary movements come and go. The Beats could be considered a literary dead end, doesn't mean it was a failure. It means things moved onto something else.



Highlighted the important part. SOME books transcend their times.
Sure and Neuromancer is one of them but that's not evidence that the genre is relevant NOW.
Well, it IS evidence of something though, isn't it? What sort of evidence do you need that means the genre is relevant NOW?

Poetry isn't particularly "relevant" now, yet its still taught. What are you basing it on?



oooo, Gibson didn't predict Google.... so what? Verne, Wells, Bradbury, Asimov didn't bat 100% either, are THEY failures?
Both Verne and Wells have pretty high success rates and the future isn't going to be kind to Asimov. This whole argument began when EVERYBODY acknowledged that 50's space opera was intellectually dead.
Everybody? Ok. Whatever. I'm not sure what point you're making here. So, 50s Space Opera is "intellectually" dead. Still, lots of people still read it. Foundation is considered a classic. Must be some reason why. It has "transcended."

Just because the popularity of a genre has waned doesn't mean it wasn't important or that it was a "failure."
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Old June 22 2012, 01:30 AM   #14
Set Harth
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

Yminale wrote: View Post
Professor Zoom wrote: View Post
The claim of supporters? Who?
Please read the article I linked to in my first post before commenting

How about this: what were the GOALS of said genre and did it succeed in them? That might be a better way of judging "failure."
Well what was Cyberpunk's goal outside of "sticking it to the man" and being full of angst about reality like every other thing with the word -punk in it.



I liked Cyberpunk but it's a literary dead end. That's not my assessment that's the father of Cyberpunk, William Gibson's judgement.


Highlighted the important part. SOME books transcend their times.
Sure and Neuromancer is one of them but that's not evidence that the genre is relevant NOW.


oooo, Gibson didn't predict Google.... so what? Verne, Wells, Bradbury, Asimov didn't bat 100% either, are THEY failures?
Both Verne and Wells have pretty high success rates and the future isn't going to be kind to Asimov. This whole argument began when EVERYBODY acknowledged that 50's space opera was intellectually dead.
Typical scorched-earth hyperbole, not especially convincing.

Well what was Cyberpunk's goal outside of "sticking it to the man" and being full of angst about reality like every other thing with the word -punk in it.
If you don't know the answer to this, it's probably because you don't know much about the genre.
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Old June 22 2012, 01:46 AM   #15
Yminale
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Re: Cyberpunk! and the future of Sci-Fi

Professor Zoom wrote: View Post
Why do you assume I didn't? Because I did. A supporter does not make supporters. It's ONE person's opinion.
Fair enough but if you follow the Sci-fi literary scene it's a common complaint

Um. I'm asking YOU. I'm asking you because perhaps you should judge something's success or failures on something more than not predicting Google.
It's not just Google but EVERYTHING about the internet. Web commerce, social media, user created content, crowd sourcing etc.

Lots of literary movements come and go. The Beats could be considered a literary dead end, doesn't mean it was a failure. It means things moved onto something else.
Agree, the term I should have used was dead-end not failure.

Well, it IS evidence of something though, isn't it? What sort of evidence do you need that means the genre is relevant NOW?
I don't know. How about new material?

Poetry isn't particularly "relevant" now, yet its still taught. What are you basing it on?
Poetry is being taught solely due to momentum. It's been part of the liberal curriculum since the 18th century but tradition is the worse excuse to do anything.

Everybody? Ok. Whatever. I'm not sure what point you're making here. So, 50s Space Opera is "intellectually" dead. Still, lots of people still read it. Foundation is considered a classic. Must be some reason why. It has "transcended."
Yes consensus part of which is nostalgia.
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