My SFRA 2015 Conference Presentation: The Cyberspace Deck as a Mechanism: Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy as a Voyager Expanded Book

The presentation that I will be giving tomorrow afternoon at 1:00PM at the annual Science Fiction Research Association Conference (this year at Stony Brook University on June 25-27, 2015) will be nothing like the title and abstract that I submitted earlier this year, but that’s a good thing. Over the past several months, my reading and research has focused on one small corner of that original abstract: The Voyager Company’s Expanded Book Edition of William Gibson’s Neuromancer with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive (1992). I began to see the cyberspace deck as an important image and mechanism connecting Gibson’s fictional world with our contemporary shift from written to digital culture.

Above,  you can watch a demo video that will accompany my presentation as a backdrop to my talk, and below, you can find my paper’s abstract, useful links, and my works cited list for reference. I will have handouts of this information available at the session tomorrow, too.


The Cyberspace Deck as a Mechanism: Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy as a Voyager Expanded Book


Instead of focusing on the epistemology or ontology of cyberspace, this paper explores the cyberspace deck in William Gibson’s fictions as a mechanism of inscription. It does this by charting Gibson’s inspiration in the Apple IIc, his comparison of it to the first Apple PowerBooks, and the publication of his cyberspace deck-infused fictions as the Voyager Company Expanded Book edition in 1992. Through discussing these connections, it addresses other issues of importance for the current shift from written culture to digital culture, such as the effect of reading on screens as opposed to print, and the effect of digital culture on the human brain.

Useful Links:

Conference Demo Video (embedded above):

Google Glass, iPad, PowerBook 145 Demo Video:

Mini vMac Emulation Software:

Emaculation Emulation Community:

Works Cited

Casimir, Jon. “Voyager Seeks to Improve Thinking.” Sydney Morning Herald (23 May 1995): n.p. Web. 18 May 2015.

DeStefano, Diana and Jo-Anne LeFebre. “Cognitive Load in Hypertext Reading: A Review.” Computers in Human Behavior 23 (2007): 1616-1641. Web. 22 June 2015.

Gibson, William. “Afterword.” Neuromancer with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Santa Monica, CA: Voyager Company, 1992. n.p. 3.5” Floppy Disk.

—. Burning Chrome. New York: EOS, 2003. Print.

—. Count Zero. New York: Ace, 1987. Print.

—. Mona Lisa Overdrive. New York: Bantam, 1989. Print.

—. Neuromancer. New York: Ace, 1984. Print.

—. Neuromancer with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Santa Monica, CA: Voyager Company, 1992. 3.5” Floppy Disk.

—. Package. Neuromancer with Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Santa Monica, CA: Voyager Company, 1992. 3.5” Floppy Disk.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. Print.

Markley, Robert. “Boundaries: Mathematics, Alientation, and the Metaphysics of Cyberspace.” Configurations 2.3 (1994): 485-507. Web. 23 June 2015.

Matazzoni, Joe. “Books in a New Light.” Publish (October 1992): 16-21. Print.

Mazlish, Bruce. The Fourth Discontinuity: The Co-Evolution of Humans and Machines. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993. Print.

Sellen, Abigail J. and Richard H.R. Harper. The Myth of the Paperless Office. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002. Print.

Virshup, Amy. “The Teachings of Bob Stein.” Wired (April 2007): n.p. Web. 5 Jan. 2015.

Wolf, Maryanne. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. New York: Harper Perennial, 2007.

OED Word of the Day: Cyberspace

Today’s Oxford English Dictionary word of the day is “cyberspace”:

The space of virtual reality; the notional environment within which electronic communication (esp. via the Internet) occurs.

The full entry is available online here. William Gibson coined the term, but it goes back two years earlier than Neuromancer (1984), the text many folks think about in reference to the term, to a story he published in Omni magazine.

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.

Ubuntu Linux and Rediscovering My Technologized Past

After reading so much theory about postmodernism, computer identity, and cyberpunk over the past two weeks, I felt that it was necessary to pull out my PC and get to work with an OS on the border or further out in the frontier. Ubuntu isn’t exactly that, but it is as close as I can get with the limited time that I have to play while I am reading for my exams.

Installing Ubuntu Linux on my Intel Q6600 quad core CPU powered PC that I built last year was seamless, effortless, and a heck of a lot faster than Vista or Windows 7. I have been installing software and playing with apps since New Year’s Day, and I am tickled about the responsiveness of the PC compared to Windows 7. The computer reacts with a hair trigger. There aren’t those interminable delays and hesitations that I repeated dealt with on Vista and Windows 7. I still have much exploring to do with this new OS, but I can say that I am pleasantly surprised about how happy I feel using Ubuntu.

Eventually, I plan on building a cyberspace deck around a mini-ITX motherboard. Why would I want to do this? A simulacral creation of an imagined-science fiction-artifact? Technological cosplay? Technofetishism? I suppose it is all of those and none of those. I have a desire to connect on a more viceral, emotional, and tactile level those things (computer culture, online identity, programming for fun and profit, charting the data pathways, etc.) that I have been reading about and thinking about. I was immersed in this way of being back in the 1990s, but I drifted to other endeavors as time passed. Also, I didn’t have the imaginative framework provided by cyberpunk literature and culture to see what I was doing from that particularly skewed angle. I wasn’t being reflective at that time. I realize that I cannot recover the past, and I don’t want to. However, I do want to try to touch a memory of that past and unravel a neural thread that’s bound up somewhere deep in my brain. And I want to do it in beautiful HD, so here it goes.

Download a free copy of Ubuntu for yourself here.