Beyond the Ruins: The Geopolitics of Urban Decay and Cybernetic Play

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Sponsler, Claire. "Beyond the Ruins: The Geopolitics of Urban Decay and Cybernetic Play." SFS #60 = 20.2 (July 1993): 251-65.

CS examines a key legacy of 1980s cyberpunk literature: "the blighted urban landscape," whose apocalyptic decay is accepted by the authors as neither good nor evil. Uses recent works (1989-91) by K. W. Jeter, Farewell Horizontal; Emma Bull, Bone Dance; and Pat Cadigan, Synners to argue for a less judgmental, esthetics-based reading of the "geopolitics of cyberpunk" along the lines presented by Brian McHale's Postmodern Fiction (1987). The topographies of these cyberpunk works may resemble those of earlier post-holocaust narratives, but the attitude toward the destruction (in the cyberpunk works) is one of profound indifference — an indifference CS suggests we share while reading the works. As of February 2004 and May 2019, abstract on WWW at <>.

Note closing sentences of Abstract, "This acceptance of environmental decay may be one of the enduring themes of cyberpunk. Although cyberpunk's complacency about eco-disaster is troubling, the continued appeal of cyberpunk's geopolitics is its attempt to use the physical world as a way of ushering in emerging technologies and exploring new, non-corporeal modes of being" (p. 265). Those non-corporeal modes contribute thought experiments to questions on embodiment and the science-fictionalization of the motif of The Separable Soul.

RFS, 27/04/95 / RDE, completing, 26May19