Cyberpunk: Future so bright they gotta wear shades

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Landon, Brooks. "Cyberpunk: Future so bright they gotta wear shades." Cinefantastique 18.1 (December 1987): 27-31. As of 30 March 2023, available on Internet Archive, here.[1] Hardcopy may be consulted under tight restrictions at/via Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: Margaret Herrick Library.[2]

Lede: "From Max Headroom to RoboCop, science fiction's new wave is hip and high tech" (slightly reformatted).

An over-view of the topic from a major scholar of SF film. Notes "that cyberpunk is at the heart of a new cultural and media convergence" and that "There is no rigid formula, but many cyberpunk stories are set in a relatively near post-industrial, multicultural future in which electronic and bio-technology have saturated all forms of experience — become an inescapable environment, a technosphere, much like that presented in MAX HEADROOM [TV show]. It is often a hardboiled tech[-]noir, technosleaze, retrofitted future [...]" (p. 27).

Especially since the Internet Archive may not be an available source — additional key quotes:

Cluttered with the litter of brand[—]name gadgets [...] and marked by bizarre obsessions with fashion, this [cyberpunk] future parodies both capitalism and consumerism [... with an economy seemingly] divided between the smothering corporate power of multinationals and a thriving blackmarket in almost everything, Key to both economies is the manipulation or theft of information. [...] Cyberpunk characters live on the fringe of society [... or] cyberpunk society is nothing but fringe.

[...] story after story suggests the possibility of translating human life into electronic data,[3] or raising data to a state approximating life (Artificial Intelligence) [AI, or, more recently, AL: Artificial Life — RDE], creating a world where Max Headroom would have lots of company, as in Rudy Rucker's Software.

Perhaps the central assumption of cyberpunk is that life, like film, video, and computer data can be edited as to become "post-human," radically reprogrammed through artificial evolution or redesigned by technology, an idea that drives Bruce Sterling's "Mechanist Shaper" series of stories. [...]

In many ways a reaction against the fear of technology expressed in SF's New Wave writers of the sixties, cyberpunk embraces technological change without suggesting that it necessarily makes life any better — just more interesting. (p. 28)


RDE, finishing, 29Mar23