Interzone 14, Winter 1985/1986

Maker:L,Date:2017-10-2,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E-Y

I received another eBay find today: Interzone issue 14 (Winter 1985/1986). This is a special magazine issue for me, because it contains “The New Science Fiction” manifesto by Vincent Omniaveritas (pseudonym for the science fiction writer and activist Bruce Sterling; his alter ego also appears as publisher of the zine Cheap Truth–read scanned issues here or text of each issue here).

Originally published in the Puerto Rican fanzine Warhoon, this hard-hitting call-to-arms advocates that, “We must create the native literature of a post-industrial society” (40).

This isn’t necessarily a manifesto for the movement known as cyberpunk, but many cyberpunk works fit. Instead, it is a larger artistic movement, which he describes thus at the end of the essay:

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 excellent.

And it is for real. (Omniaveritas 40)

The entire manifesto is worth reading–for its historical significance, its ideas for the New Science Fiction, and its prize-fighter-like style of sending its message home blow-after-blow. You can find a copy on Archive.org’s Internet Wayback Machine here.

Works Cited

Omniaveritas, Vincent (Bruce Sterling). “The New Science Fiction.” Interzone. No. 14 (1985), pp. 39-40.

Minireview: The Reconcilers Graphic Novel Volume 1

The Reconcilers Vol. 1.
The Reconcilers Vol. 1.

While Y and I were sitting for several hours in an airplane–on the ground, I had the pleasure of meeting the writer, actor, and director Erik Jensen. After I mentioned to him that my specific area of training is in Science Fiction, he gave me a graphic novel saying, “here’s some Science Fiction for you.” I was thankful for the gift and thankful for the time on the tarmac to read it!

The graphic novel that he gave me is volume one of The Reconcilers (2010) co-created by R. Emery Bright, Jens Pil Pilegaard, and Jensen. Volume one is written by Jensen and drawn by Shepherd Hendrix. Neal Adams created the cover art.

The narrative takes place in 2165 after the ascendency of religion-like mega-corporations and the gradual establishment of elaborate gladiatorial matches fought by “Reconcilers” to decide disputes between corporate entities. The story  follows Sokor Industries attempting an extra-legal takeover of Hansen Engineering’s claim to the motherlode of exotic, energy-rich “liberty ore.” Hexhammer, Hansen’s miner who discovered the the vein, leads their underdog team against Sokol’s seasoned fighters to keep what they had earned. However, Hexhammer’s past choices threaten his ability to overcome his final confrontation with Sokor’s best Reconciler, “Masakor.”

The megacorporations of Fredrik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth’s The Space Merchants and William Gibson’s Neuromancer, as does Weyland-Yutani of the Alien film series also, inform The Reconcilers.

The Reconcilers has a lot of interesting material for thinking through the convergence of corporate personhood, entertainment, religion, capital, and rule of law. I believe that it would be informative to research and engaging to students.

 

Recovered Writing: MA in SF Studies, Genre Definitions Paper 1, Mega-text and the Cyberpunk Subgenre, Nov 13, 2006

This is the sixth post in a series that I call, “Recovered Writing.” I am going through my personal archive of undergraduate and graduate school writing, recovering those essays I consider interesting but that I am unlikely to revise for traditional publication, and posting those essays as-is on my blog in the hope of engaging others with these ideas that played a formative role in my development as a scholar and teacher. Because this and the other essays in the Recovered Writing series are posted as-is and edited only for web-readability, I hope that readers will accept them for what they are–undergraduate and graduate school essays conveying varying degrees of argumentation, rigor, idea development, and research. Furthermore, I dislike the idea of these essays languishing in a digital tomb, so I offer them here to excite your curiosity and encourage your conversation.

As I remember it, Professor Andy Sawyer led the Genre Definitions module of the MA in Science Fiction Studies program, but we had some seminars with Professor Peter Wright. This is the first of two major essays from the Genre Definitions module. It allowed me to begin my research in an area that I was very interested in (i.e., cyberpunk) but that I had not yet seriously researched.

Jason W. Ellis

Professor Andy Sawyer

Science Fiction Studies Core Module 1: Genre Definitions

13 November 2006

Mega-text and the Cyberpunk Subgenre

In Bruce Sterling’s preface to Mirrorshades:  The Cyberpunk Anthology, he sets about constructing a definition of cyberpunk. Sterling points out “the Cyberpunks as a group are steeped in the lore and tradition of the SF field” (x).  However, cyberpunk authors changed traditional science fiction (SF) vectors by “overlapping…worlds that were formerly separate:  the realm of the high tech, and the modern pop underground” (Sterling xi).    Therefore, cyberpunk is arguably a subgenre of SF, because its practitioners build on earlier SF works while writing stories based on a new fusion of ideas.  Additionally, the dialog between works of cyberpunk and other works of SF provide a connection to an overarching meta-text.  This connecting dialog is accomplished by the sharing of language, terminology, and situations.  I would extend this argument by saying that cyberpunk operates within its own mega-text that is particular to works decidedly cyberpunk in orientation.

Two works of cyberpunk in mega-text dialog with one another are William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.  Gibson’s early work is said to be the foundation of cyberpunk[1], and Stephenson’s work is equally considered essential to the movement.  I argue that there exists a dialog between the works of Gibson and Stephenson that forms the basis of a cyberpunk mega-text that is also connected to the larger SF mega-text.

Christine Brooke-Rose first put forth the concept of a mega-text, or megastory.   She writes, “The realistic narrative is hitched to a megastory (history, geography), itself valorised, which doubles and illuminates it, creating expectations on the line of least resistance through a text already known, usually as close as possible to the reader’s experience” (Brooke-Rose 243).  SF authors, unlike mimetic authors, have to rely on anchoring their stories into ideas, concepts, and language that have been employed in previous works by other authors.  Essentially, SF is reliant on its situation within a network of texts including both non-fiction (e.g., science and technology) and fiction (e.g., SF, detective fiction, and other genre fiction).

On the one hand, SF’s central theme is that it’s extrapolated from real and theoretical scientific and technological concepts of the here-and-now.  This means that authors draw on the large body of scientific works and technological developments that SF readers may be acutely or tangentially aware of.  Additionally, SF, like science itself, is based on building upon prior works.  This is not to say that subsequent SF works have citations pointing back to passages and data contained in other works, but it does mean that SF is not written within a vacuum.  SF authors build on ideas that they have received from reading works within and without the genre.

Damien Broderick extends Brooke-Rose’s concept of the megastory by a closer reading of its importance to SF, and in so doing, he coins a new term, the mega-text.  His concept of the mega-text refers to the overlay of SF texts, themes, and ideas as, “the mutually imbricated sf texts” (59).  SF stories, for the most part, are an imbrication of texts in a three dimensional space where concepts and terminology float freely between the layers formed by the many stories thus arrayed.

The mega-text is a double-edged sword that represents the shared space of terminology, ideas, and themes that serve to both familiarize, as well as defamiliarize the reader.  He goes on to write, “But that familiarity, so necessary in alerting trained readers to the appropriate reception codes and strategies for concretising an sf text, maintains at its heart a de-familiarising impulse absolutely pivotal to the form’s specificity” (Broderick 60).  The SF mega-text is a shared space of concepts and terminology that many SF writers draw upon in the crafting of their stories.  SF readers rely on authorial use of the ideas contained in the mega-text in order to situate themselves in an otherwise (more or less) overwhelmingly fantastic place.  However, it is the shared elements of the mega-text that form the “de-familiarising impulse absolutely pivotal to the form’s specificity.”

The shared elements, or as Gary K. Wolfe labeled them, icons, are built-up “using a strategy of semiological compensation, or redundancy and overcoding…[The] sf mega-text works by embedding each new work…in an even vaster web of interpenetrating semantic and tropic givens or vectors” (Broderick 59).  The mega-text serves as the “text tube” where ideas react with one another and form new compounds and substances, as well as reveal litmus colors that indicate how one text is related to another across the mega-text network.  Reagents in the SF mega-text include computers, spaceships, robots, and solvable problems.  Cyberpunk icons include networked computers, the network, multinational corporations, virtual reality, disembodiment facilitated through technology, and problems sans solution.

Gibson’s Neuromancer is widely accepted as the foundational cyberpunk work, and it first lends itself to the SF mega-text by the author generating cognitive estrangement[2] through the establishment of setting in its opening sentence.  Gibson begins, “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel” (3).  The description of the sky is estranging from the way in which one would normally characterize the sky, and it is rationally described through the language of technology (i.e., television).

Also, Gibson employs terminology that connects to a shared SF terminology that reinforces this text’s membership in the SF mega-text.  For example, Gibson’s description of the protagonist, Case, is densely packed with powerful descriptions and technologically-oriented words that elicit the feel of an SF story:

Case was twenty-four.  At twenty-two, he’d been a cowboy, a rustler, one of the best in the Sprawl…He’d operated on an almost permanent adrenaline high…jacked into a custom cyberspace deck that projected his disembodied consciousness into the consensual hallucination that was the matrix.  A thief, he’d worked for other, wealthier thieves, employers who provide the exotic software required to penetrate the bright walls of corporate systems, opening windows into rich fields of data (5).

Gibson re-envisions a cattle ‘rustler’ with the future occupation of a data ‘thief.’  Future corporations that protect their data behind ‘bright walls’ instead of fences, replace the ranches of the past.  And most importantly, Case ‘jacks’ into ‘cyberspace’ using a ‘custom deck’ that leaves him ‘disembodied’ within the ‘consensual hallucination,’ which is an artificial construct of reality known as the ‘matrix.’  Old becomes new and therefore, estranging.

In addition to Gibson’s use of computer technology in this narrative, he also conjures other images in crafting Neuromancer.  The style of the novel is distinctly noir.  Case’s world is ambiguously not dualistic and there is no apparent resolution at the end.  Also, he features the female cyborg Molly, the AI Wintermute, who wants to engage in the capitalist system, the near-immortal Tessier-Ashpool S.A. family/mega-corporation, and the spiritually positive Zion cluster Rastas.

Neal Stephenson extends these cyberpunk icons through the use of language and narrative style in his novel, Snow Crash, published eight years after Gibson’s Neuromancer.  Again, from the opening lines of the text, the reader is thrown into a world that is recognizable, but subtly different than the here-and-now:

The Deliverator belongs to an elite order…Right now, he is preparing to carry out his third mission of the night.  His uniform is black as activated charcoal…A bullet will bounce off its arachnofiber weave like a wren hitting a patio door, but excess perspiration wafts through it like a breeze through a freshly napalmed forest.  Where his body has bony extremities, the suit has sintered armorgel…[that] protects like a stack of telephone books (Stephenson 1).

‘The Deliverator’ has a ‘Terminator’ ring to it, and the name is capitalized.  He’s on his ‘third mission,’ wearing a black uniform that is protected by ‘arachnofiber weave’ and ‘sintered armorgel.’  All of this protection and militarized language (e.g., mission, bullet, napalmed forest, and armor) is established for “pizza delivery” (Stephenson 3).  Thus, today’s mundane is rendered tomorrow’s exotic.

In addition to the dense and destabilizing openings to these cyberpunk stories, Stephenson relies on a shared set of terminology to describe the computer-based-scapes in which his character, Hiro Protagonist, shares an affinity with Gibson’s Case.  Hiro writes “microcode (software)” (Stephenson 3).  When he uses his computer, he wears “shiny goggles that wrap halfway around his head” that “throw a light, smoky haze across his eyes and reflect a distorted wide-angle view of a brilliantly lit boulevard that stretches off into an infinite blackness.  This boulevard does not really exist; it is a computer-rendered view of an imaginary place” (Stephenson 19).  The ‘imaginary place’ that is projected onto Hiro’s eyes from the goggles is another description of Gibson’s “consensual hallucination that was the matrix” (Gibson 5).

Following Stephenson’s technical explanation of Hiro’s goggles, he best makes the connection to Gibson’s Neuromancer when he writes:

So Hiro’s not actually here at all.  He’s in a computer-generated universe that his computer is drawing onto his goggles and pumping into his earphones.  In the lingo, this imaginary place is known as the Metaverse.  Hiro spends a lot of time in the Metaverse.  It beats the shit out of the U-Stor-It (22).

This passage establishes another characteristic of cyberpunk:  the desire to leave physical reality and escape into a computer generated world.  Gibson describes Case’s crisis over losing the ability to disengage his body and enter cyberspace when he writes,  “They damaged his nervous system with a wartime Russian mycotoxin…The body was meat.  Case fell into the prison of his own flesh” (6).  The ‘meatspace’ is undesirable to the computer jockey.  Cyberspace and physical disembodiment is the desired space in which to work and live.  In the lives of both Case and Hiro, they live in a dirty and harsh world that doesn’t compare to the beautifully rendered and clean spaces found in their respective cyberspace or Metaverse.

Other icons in Stephenson’s novel that engage the discussion began by Neuromancer include:  a noir style, cyborgs (the mixed race Hiro, the mixed education of Juanita, and the gargoyle information gatherers), language as a programming language, media conglomerates, Cosa Nostra pizza delivery, Burbclaves, and the negative spirituality of the Reverend Wayne Pearly Gates franchise.

Gibson’s groundbreaking novel, Neuromancer, founded what became to be known as cyberpunk, and Stephenson extended cyberpunk by adding to its mega-text through his work, Snow Crash.  These novels engage in a dialog between themselves, as well as in a wider network of SF texts and real-world science and technology. [3]

SF constitutes a mega-text based on historically established terminological and stylistic icons that SF writers are free to draw from, as well as add to, in their own writings.  Cyberpunk is a literary movement that came about in the 1980s as some SF writers decided to strike off in a new direction by remixing historical tropes from SF and detective fiction, as well as bringing together new technology and pop iconography.  Therefore, cyberpunk is connected to and in dialog with the SF mega-text, but it has its own mega-text founded on icons unique to the cyberpunk movement.

Works Cited

Broderick, Damien.  Reading by Starlight:  Postmodern Science Fiction.  London:  Routledge, 1995.

Brooke-Rose, Christine.  A Rhetoric of the Unreal:  Studies in Narrative and Structure, Especially of the Fantastic.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1981.

Gibson, William. Burning Chrome.  London:  HarperCollins, 1995.

—.  Neuromancer.  New York:  Ace, 1984.

Nicholls, Terry.  “Cyberpunk.”  The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.  Eds. John Clute and Terry Nicholls.  New York:  St. Martin’s, 1995.

Oshii, Mamoru.  Ghost in the Shell.  Manga Video, 1996.

Scott, Ridley.  Blade Runner.  Perf. Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer.  Warner Brothers, 1982.

Stephenson, Neal.  Snow Crash.  New York:  Bantam Books, 2000.

Sterling, Bruce.  “Bruce Sterling’s Idea of What Every Well-Appointed ‘Cyberpunk SF’ Library Collection Should Possess.”  EFF Publications–Bruce Sterling Archive August 1996.  5 November 2006 <http://www.eff.org/Misc/Publications/Bruce_Sterling/cyberpunk_library.biblio&gt;.

—.  “Preface.” Mirrorshades:  The Cyberpunk Anthology.  Ed. Bruce Sterling.  New York:  Ace, 1988.  ix-xvi.

Suvin, Darko.  “Estrangement and Cognition.”  Speculations on Speculation:  Theories of Science Fiction.  Eds. James Gunn and Matthew Candelaria.  Oxford:  Scarecrow Press, 2005.

Wachowki, Andy and Larry Wachowski, dirs.  The Matrix.  Perf. Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne.  Warner Brothers, 1999.


[1] Gibson first coins the term  “cyberspace” in his short story, “Burning Chrome.”  However, he gives it a more thorough treatment in his novel, Neuromancer.  Cyberspace is arguably the element that solidified the cyberpunk movement.

[2] Darko Suvin writes in “Estrangement and Cognition,” “SF is, then a literary genre whose necessary and sufficient conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, and whose main formal device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author’s empirical environments” (27).  Suvin introduced the idea of cognition to SF studies when he paired it to the notion of estrangement.  This resulted in an explicit division between fantasy and SF, thus further solidifying SF as a distinct genre.

[3] This survey of two cyberpunk novels offers only a glimpse of the dialog between texts that generates the mega-text definition of the cyberpunk subgenre.  Other cyberpunk mega-text contributors include Greg Bear, Greg Egan, Rudy Rucker, Lewis Shiner, Paul Di Filippo, and Pat Cadigan.  Cyberpunk oriented films include The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell.  Furthermore, there are, to borrow Peter Nicholl’s phrase, “cyberpunk ancestors” (289).  These pre-cyberpunk authors were writing stories that share a cyberpunk orientation.  These ancestors include Philip K. Dick, James Tiptree, Jr., and J.G. Ballard and films such as Blade Runner (288-289).  Further cyberpunk mega-text works can be found in “Bruce Sterling’s Idea of What Every Well-Appointed ‘Cyberpunk SF’ Library Collection Should Possess.”

Science Fiction, LMC3214: Cyberpunk, William Gibson, and Retrocomputing Demo

After my students took their second exam yesterday, I lectured on cyberpunk to accompany their readings: William Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and Bruce Sterling’s “Preface” to Mirrorshades. I talked about its historical and cultural moment, proto-cyberpunk examples in the SF genre, and the movement itself. In particular, I contextualized the cyberpunk movement in terms of postmodernism and post-industrial society. We ran out of time while I was talking about Gibson’s contributions to the development of the cyberpunk movement. Besides my enjoyment of talking about cyberpunk, I was happy that my former professor Dr. Carol Senf was in attendance to observe my teaching.

Today, we watched the William Gibson and Tom Maddox penned episode of The X-Files, “Kill Switch.” Released approximately 16 years after “Burning Chrome” in 1998, it is one of the best examples of cyberpunk in a visual medium–especially in the fact that it takes place in the here-and-now instead of the near future.

Then, I lectured on The X-Files and cyberpunk film/television before returning to my notes on Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Pat Cadigan.

After the lecture, I launched into a retrocomputing demonstration with emulation and my personal collection of resurrected computer gear. I showed my students how to use the http://www.virtualapple.org website to see what cutting edge computing looked like in the early 1980s. Most of my students were born in the early to mid-1990s, so I wanted them to experience first hand how much extrapolation was being done on the part of the cyberpunks and Gibson in particular (of course, telling them about his Hermes 2000 typewriter and its celluloid keys and his recollection of getting inspiration for the cyberspace deck from the Apple IIc–something that his memory likely colored due to the fact that the IIc was released the same year as Neuromancer). Also, I brought in an Apple Powerbook 145 with Gibson’s Voyager Company ebook of the Sprawl trilogy pre-loaded and a Pentium-I PC with old software including Neuromancer (for DOS), Star Wars: Dark Forces (DOS), and the Star Trek Interactive Technical Manual (Windows). I took the U-shaped sheet metal case off my PC so that they could see the insides.

I had to lug everything across campus in my carry-on sized suitcase with the PC strapped to the handle with nylon straps. I felt like Case in Neuromancer returning from his shopping expedition.

Tomorrow: Taiwanese SF and review for the third exam.

Science Fiction, LMC3214: Revised Schedule for Last Week of Class

This is the last week of my Science Fiction class. I decided to make some changes to the final week of class to cover the necessary material and to strike out into new territory. Here’s the revised schedule for Monday through Thursday:

Monday: 9:20-10:20 Exam 2. 10:20-11:20 Lecture on Cyberpunk and short discussion of William Gibson’s “Burning Chrome” and Bruce Sterling’s Preface to Mirrorshades anthology.

Tuesday: Begin with episode of the X-Files by William Gibson and Tom Maddox, “Kill Switch.” Followed by discussion and retrocomputing demonstration that looks at the computing origins of cyberpunk. Please bring your laptop today for the in-class activity.

Wednesday: Global Perspectives unit on Taiwanese SF. First part of class: lecture on differences of cultural/historical development and issues of translation. Second part of class: Active learning exercise looking at translations. The two readings for today’s class are on T-Square under Resources.

Thursday: 9:20-9:50 Exam 3. 9:50-11:20 Exploring your SF imagination with Lego. Think about your favorite trope, image, science, or technology from SF and how you might build it with Lego bricks. We will spend time in class building your creation and then sharing your creations with the class as a whole. If you bring your ideas to class, I will bring the bricks (and a camera to record your work)!

Notes and Photos from Minister Faust’s LMC Distinguished Speaker Presentation at Georgia Tech

Minister Faust in the Ferst Room.
Minister Faust in the Ferst Room.

On Monday, April 1, Minister Faust, the Canadian science fiction writer, delivered a presentation and performed readings from his published fiction to a full audience in Georgia Tech Library’s Ferst Room. His visit to Georgia Tech was part of the School of Literature, Media, and Communication’s Distinguished Speaker Series. There were also three nearby high school classes in attendance through telepresence technology.

Minister Faust began with a presentation titled, “Afrofuturism, E-Town, Imhotep-Hop and Me.” In this presentation, he sketched Canada’s historical, cultural, and political landscape, followed with background on his hometown, Edmonton and the neighborhood that he calls “Kush,” and concluded with an overview of Afrofuturism and his unique approach to storytelling that he calls, “Imhotep-Hop.”

Minister Faust reads to his audience.
Minister Faust reads to his audience.

Imhotep-Hop builds on the science fiction genealogy of cyberpunk > steampunk > Afrofuturism > steamfunk. Like those inventive subgenres, it is a kind of culture jamming. Like its namesake, it is grounded in intellectualism and the desire for gaining and sharing knowledge. However, Minister Faust recognizes that fiction must be entertaining. He uses allegory and humor to convey interesting and engaging stories about serious matters. Perhaps most importantly, Imhotep-hop indicates the past (ancient African stories and mythologies, presented as allegory) and present (the here-and-now) while pointing toward the future.

Following his presentation, Minister Faust read from two of his novels: The Coyote Kings Book One: Space Age Bachelor Pad and The Alchemists of Kush.

Minister Faust performing his reading.
Minister Faust performing his reading.

This is the second time that I have had the pleasure and honor of attending a reading by Minister Faust. The first time that I met him was at the 2012 Science Fiction Research Association Conference in Detroit. His reading there, like this one at Georgia Tech, was electric! Instead of simply reading from his novels as a speaker and author, Minister Faust performs his characters. His face, hands, and arms form an orchestra with his talented and powerful voice to convey urgency and surprise, excitement and peace, hostility and love. As he reads a scene to the audience, you are drawn into the story as much if not more so than a Console Cowboy sucked into the other worldly expanse of William Gibson’s cyberspace. Good storytelling, like that performed by Minister Faust, is a far more satisfying virtual reality than any generated in the Crytek or Unreal engines.

Minister Faust presenting.
Minister Faust presenting.

Dr. Lisa Yaszek scheduled Monday’s reading to accommodate one of my ENGL1101 classes. As a former Tech undergraduate, I understand how vitally important it is to students’ personal development and enrichment by attending special events and presentations. Some of my fondest memories of my Tech years include meeting Stephen Wolfram and watching Honda’s Asimo robot in person (twice). Furthermore, one of these meetings–spending the day with science fiction writer Kathleen Ann Goonan changed the direction of my life forever. At the end of that day, I told Dr. Yaszek that I had made up my mind to study science fiction professionally–and I did!

Minister Faust presenting.
Minister Faust presenting.

My students from that class and my other two sections were in attendance. Several of my students asked Minister Faust probing and insightful questions about the creative process, the relationship between writing and improving one’s mood, and the influence of his cultural experience on his personal writing style.

Minister Faust presenting.
Minister Faust presenting.

Building on Dr. Laura Otis’s previous Distinguished Speaker Series talk [which I wrote about here], I asked Minister Faust, what kind of conscious thinking does he do as he writes (e.g., verbally, visually, haptically, aurally, etc)? I was very happy to learn that he thinks multimodally depending on the content of a scene or the direction from which he comes when building his stories (verbally first sometimes, visually first at others, or aurally/musically for others). Ultimately, his thinking in different modes is expressed verbally in writing.

Minister Faust presenting.
Minister Faust presenting.

You can download my handwritten notes from his presentation and his responses to audience questions as a PDF here: Minister Faust Notes.

He also gave a second reading on the morning of Tuesday, April 2. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. However, I am eager to find out which of my students went to that reading!

Me and Minister Faust.
Me and Minister Faust.

In addition to visiting Minister Faust’s official website to purchase his books directly from the author at a discount, you can purchase his books in print from Amazon here or in Kindle ebook format here.

I also highly recommend that you watch his TEDxEdmonton talk here and this interview featuring him talking about the fiction of Philip K. Dick in three parts here, here, and here .

Minister Faust is doing very important work through his writing. It is entertaining and educational; It is lighthearted and serious. I believe that it will be read and remembered in the SF pantheon. I am happy and thankful that he shared some of that work with the Georgia Tech community.

TRON Legacy Brings Cyberpunk Full Circle

P1010411, originally uploaded by dynamicsubspace.

Y and I drove to Pittsburgh today to see TRON Legacy on IMAX 3D at the Cinemark in Pittsburgh Mills. I will write up a full review for the next SFRA Review, but it suffices for now to say that it is a wonderful film that is fully deserving of the hype that led up to its release.

I like to point to the first TRON film as the popular beginning of cyberpunk in science fiction. There are obviously precedents in novels and short stories, but it was TRON that visually presented “the grid” before Gibson’s receding lines of light. Disney was there first, and they were there again in TRON Legacy–upgrading the original look with slick 3D visuals, and reminding us about the real driving innovator behind consumer digital electronics–video games and virtual spaces (in their many forms). I need to sleep to process the film more fully, but I am very much looking forward to writing this review.

If you want cool desktop pictures from the high resolution TRON Legacy trailer, cycle over to slashfilm here. If you haven’t already seen the trailer and film segments, see what Apple has to offer here.