Prefiguring Cyberculture: An Intellectual History
Prefiguring Cyberculture: An Intellectual History. Edited by Darren Tofts, Annemarie Jonson, and Allesio Cavallero. Sydney, NSW: Power Publications, 2002, & Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2002. Reviewed along with Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age by Veronica Hollinger in "Technoculture All the Way Down," Science Fiction Studies #94 = 31.3 (November 2004): 444-51, our primary source for this citation and annotation.
Hollinger finds Prefiguring Cyberculture
an impressive collection of essays and meditations aimed at historicizing the productions of technoscience. The authors of these pieces [...help us] to appreciate more accurately the complex, heterogeneous, and constantly shifting landscape of present-day [...] “cyberculture” or “technoculture.” How has this terrain been shaped by earlier currents of philosophical thought, political interest, popular story-telling, theoretical critique, and scientific and technological development? How has conceptualization shaped implementation? In the words of its editors, Prefiguring Cyberculture seeks to “illuminate the rich intellectual history of cyberculture by probing "'framing texts’ drawn from fiction, science and philosophy” (x). The result is a wide-ranging, if inevitably incomplete, assemblage of commentaries — by scholars, critics, artists, and scientists. (Hollinger p. 447).
The theme of the post-human, defined by the editors as a phenomenon of cyberculture and "'a conception of the human that has gone beyond — hence post — the organic, a-technological vision of “man” of classical antiquity, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment' (3)" (Hollinger pp. 448-49). Discussions of authors including "Thomas More and Francis Bacon, Mary Shelley, Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Vernor Vinge, and William Gibson" (p. 448). Such works as Bradbury's "The Veldt," Gibson's Neuromancer, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein in Catherine Waldby’s “The Instruments of Life: Frankenstein and Cyberculture,” "Samuel J. Umland and Karl Wessel’s “Cassandra Among the Cyborgs,” a kind of dialogue with Philip K. Dick’s 1976 essay “Man, Android and Machine,” discussion of Vernor Vinge on "the Singularity" after the evolution of superhuman AI, and the body/performance-art of Stelarc and others "whose work has been very directly shaped by technologies such as artificial-life programs, VR, and computer-graphics imaging"(Hollinger pp. 448-49).
RDE, Initial Compiler, 23July19