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Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk & Postmodern Science Fiction

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The term “cyberpunk” entered the literary landscape in 1984 to describe William Gibson’s pathbreaking novel Neuromancer. Cyberpunks are now among the shock troops of postmodernism, Larry McCaffery argues in Storming the Reality Studio, marshalling the resources of a fragmentary culture to create a startling new form. Artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, multinatio The term “cyberpunk” entered the literary landscape in 1984 to describe William Gibson’s pathbreaking novel Neuromancer. Cyberpunks are now among the shock troops of postmodernism, Larry McCaffery argues in Storming the Reality Studio, marshalling the resources of a fragmentary culture to create a startling new form. Artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, multinational machinations, frenetic bursts of prose, collisions of style, celebrations of texture: although emerging largely from science fiction, these features of cyberpunk writing are, as this volume makes clear, integrally related to the aims and innovations of the literary avant-garde.By bringing together original fiction by well-known contemporary writers (William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kathy Acker, J. G. Ballard, Samuel R. Delany), critical commentary by some of the major theorists of postmodern art and culture (Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, Timothy Leary, Jean-François Lyotard), and work by major practitioners of cyberpunk (William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Bruce Sterling), Storming the Reality Studio reveals a fascinating ongoing dialog in contemporary culture. What emerges most strikingly from the colloquy is a shared preoccupation with the force of technology in shaping modern life. It is precisely this concern, according to McCaffery, that has put science fiction, typically the province of technological art, at the forefront of creative explorations of our unique age. A rich opporunity for reading across genres, this anthology offers a new perspective on the evolution of postmodern culture and ultimately shows how deeply technological developments have influenced our vision and our art. CONTENTS Introduction: The Desert of the Real · Larry McCaffery Cyberpunk 101: A Schematic Guide to Storming the Reality Studio · Richard Kadrey & Larry McCaffery Beyond the Extinction of Human Life [from Empire of the Senseless] · Kathy Acker · from Crash · J. G. Ballard · Mother and I Would Like to Know [from The Wild Boys] · William S. Burroughs · Rock On · Pat Cadigan · Among the Blobs · Samuel R. Delany · from White Noise · Don DeLillo · from Neuromancer · William Gibson · Fistic Hermaphrodites · Rob Hardin · Microbes · Rob Hardin Penetrabit: Slime Temples · Rob Hardin · nerve terminals · Rob Hardin · Max Headroom · Harold Jaffe · from Straight Fiction · Thom Jurek · The Toilet Was Full of Nietzsche [from Metrophage] · Richard Kadrey · Office of the Future [from Dad’s Nuke] · Marc Laidlaw · I Was an Infinitely Hot and Dense Dot [from My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist] · Mark Leyner · from Plus · Joseph McElroy · Wire Movement #9 · Misha · Wire for Two Tims · Misha · from Easy Travel to Other Planets · Ted Mooney · Frame 137 · Jim O’Barr · from The Crying of Lot 49 · Thomas Pynchon · from Software · Rudy Rucker from Life During Wartime · Lucius Shepard · Stoked · Lewis Shiner · Wolves of the Plateau · John Shirley · Twenty Evocations [“Life in the Mechanist/Shaper Era: 20 Evocations”; Mechanist-Shapers] · Bruce Sterling · Mare Tranquillitatis People’s Circumlunal Zaibatsu: 2-1-’16 [from Schismatrix] · Bruce Sterling The Indigo Engineeers · William T. Vollmann · Before the Lights Came On: Observations of a Synergy · Steve Brown The Automation of the Robot [from Simulations] · Jean Baudrillard Cyberpunk and Neuromanticism · Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. · from Of Grammatology · Jacques Derrida · Yin and Yang Duke It Out · Joan Gordon · Cybernetic Deconstructions: Cyberpunk and Postmodernism · Veronica Hollinger from Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism · Fredric Jameson Television and the Triumph of Culture [from The Postmodern Scene] · Arthur Kroker & David Cook · Bet On It: Cyber/video/punk/performance · Brooks Landon · The Cyberpunk: The Individual as Reality Pilot · Timothy Leary The Postmodern [from The Postmodern Condition] · Jean-François Lyotard · An Interview with William Gibson · Larry McCaffery · Cutting Up: Cyberpunk, Punk Music, and Urban Decontextualizations · Larry McCaffery · POSTcyberMODERNpunkISM · Brian McHale · The Wars of the Coin’s Two Halves: Bruce Sterling’s Mechanist/Shaper Narratives · Tom Maddox · Frothing the Synaptic Bath · David Porush · Literary MTV · George Slusser · Preface from Mirrorshades · Bruce Sterling · On Gibson and Cyberpunk SF · Darko Suvin · The Japanese Reflection of Mirrorshades · Takayuki Tatsumi


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The term “cyberpunk” entered the literary landscape in 1984 to describe William Gibson’s pathbreaking novel Neuromancer. Cyberpunks are now among the shock troops of postmodernism, Larry McCaffery argues in Storming the Reality Studio, marshalling the resources of a fragmentary culture to create a startling new form. Artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, multinatio The term “cyberpunk” entered the literary landscape in 1984 to describe William Gibson’s pathbreaking novel Neuromancer. Cyberpunks are now among the shock troops of postmodernism, Larry McCaffery argues in Storming the Reality Studio, marshalling the resources of a fragmentary culture to create a startling new form. Artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, multinational machinations, frenetic bursts of prose, collisions of style, celebrations of texture: although emerging largely from science fiction, these features of cyberpunk writing are, as this volume makes clear, integrally related to the aims and innovations of the literary avant-garde.By bringing together original fiction by well-known contemporary writers (William Burroughs, Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, Kathy Acker, J. G. Ballard, Samuel R. Delany), critical commentary by some of the major theorists of postmodern art and culture (Jacques Derrida, Fredric Jameson, Timothy Leary, Jean-François Lyotard), and work by major practitioners of cyberpunk (William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley, Pat Cadigan, Bruce Sterling), Storming the Reality Studio reveals a fascinating ongoing dialog in contemporary culture. What emerges most strikingly from the colloquy is a shared preoccupation with the force of technology in shaping modern life. It is precisely this concern, according to McCaffery, that has put science fiction, typically the province of technological art, at the forefront of creative explorations of our unique age. A rich opporunity for reading across genres, this anthology offers a new perspective on the evolution of postmodern culture and ultimately shows how deeply technological developments have influenced our vision and our art. CONTENTS Introduction: The Desert of the Real · Larry McCaffery Cyberpunk 101: A Schematic Guide to Storming the Reality Studio · Richard Kadrey & Larry McCaffery Beyond the Extinction of Human Life [from Empire of the Senseless] · Kathy Acker · from Crash · J. G. Ballard · Mother and I Would Like to Know [from The Wild Boys] · William S. Burroughs · Rock On · Pat Cadigan · Among the Blobs · Samuel R. Delany · from White Noise · Don DeLillo · from Neuromancer · William Gibson · Fistic Hermaphrodites · Rob Hardin · Microbes · Rob Hardin Penetrabit: Slime Temples · Rob Hardin · nerve terminals · Rob Hardin · Max Headroom · Harold Jaffe · from Straight Fiction · Thom Jurek · The Toilet Was Full of Nietzsche [from Metrophage] · Richard Kadrey · Office of the Future [from Dad’s Nuke] · Marc Laidlaw · I Was an Infinitely Hot and Dense Dot [from My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist] · Mark Leyner · from Plus · Joseph McElroy · Wire Movement #9 · Misha · Wire for Two Tims · Misha · from Easy Travel to Other Planets · Ted Mooney · Frame 137 · Jim O’Barr · from The Crying of Lot 49 · Thomas Pynchon · from Software · Rudy Rucker from Life During Wartime · Lucius Shepard · Stoked · Lewis Shiner · Wolves of the Plateau · John Shirley · Twenty Evocations [“Life in the Mechanist/Shaper Era: 20 Evocations”; Mechanist-Shapers] · Bruce Sterling · Mare Tranquillitatis People’s Circumlunal Zaibatsu: 2-1-’16 [from Schismatrix] · Bruce Sterling The Indigo Engineeers · William T. Vollmann · Before the Lights Came On: Observations of a Synergy · Steve Brown The Automation of the Robot [from Simulations] · Jean Baudrillard Cyberpunk and Neuromanticism · Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. · from Of Grammatology · Jacques Derrida · Yin and Yang Duke It Out · Joan Gordon · Cybernetic Deconstructions: Cyberpunk and Postmodernism · Veronica Hollinger from Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism · Fredric Jameson Television and the Triumph of Culture [from The Postmodern Scene] · Arthur Kroker & David Cook · Bet On It: Cyber/video/punk/performance · Brooks Landon · The Cyberpunk: The Individual as Reality Pilot · Timothy Leary The Postmodern [from The Postmodern Condition] · Jean-François Lyotard · An Interview with William Gibson · Larry McCaffery · Cutting Up: Cyberpunk, Punk Music, and Urban Decontextualizations · Larry McCaffery · POSTcyberMODERNpunkISM · Brian McHale · The Wars of the Coin’s Two Halves: Bruce Sterling’s Mechanist/Shaper Narratives · Tom Maddox · Frothing the Synaptic Bath · David Porush · Literary MTV · George Slusser · Preface from Mirrorshades · Bruce Sterling · On Gibson and Cyberpunk SF · Darko Suvin · The Japanese Reflection of Mirrorshades · Takayuki Tatsumi

30 review for Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk & Postmodern Science Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    a.g.e. montagner

    I stumbled upon this anthology entirely by chance, while browsing the department catalogue for texts on cyberpunk. Given my long-term obsession with postmodern Anglo-American fiction, I was already familiar with Larry McCaffery’s critical work and his tireless enthusiasm for each successive wave of contemporary writers. I’d consulted his Avant-Pop anthology http://bit.ly/dEZe3g repeatedly, more delighted by his own theorizations than by any of the contributions featured. But Storming the Reality I stumbled upon this anthology entirely by chance, while browsing the department catalogue for texts on cyberpunk. Given my long-term obsession with postmodern Anglo-American fiction, I was already familiar with Larry McCaffery’s critical work and his tireless enthusiasm for each successive wave of contemporary writers. I’d consulted his Avant-Pop anthology http://bit.ly/dEZe3g repeatedly, more delighted by his own theorizations than by any of the contributions featured. But Storming the Reality Studio, I would argue, is still his best effort to date: way more relevant, challenging, and just plain interesting. Which can perhaps only be stated in retrospect: the avant-pop label did never really stuck, while ‘cyberpunk’ is still a vital category more than a dozen years later (spawning the post-cyberpunk wave and an exhilarating string of –punk undercurrents: steampunk, dieselpunk, atompunk). The anthology is divided in two parts: Fiction and Poetry / Non-Fiction. Most of the fiction is made up of (usually brief) novels excerpts rather than independent short stories; there are also comics by Jim O’Barr of The Crow fame, illustrations by one Ferret and even poetry by Rob Hardin and Misha. Cyberpunk poetry! Needless to say, the gotha of the movement presides in full regalia, joined by such slipstream authors as Burroughs, Pynchon, DeLillo, Acker, Leyner and Vollman. And yet, unlike other cyberpunk anthologies, e.g. Mirroshades or Gibson’s short-story collection Burning Chrome, this book is crucially constituted for more than half of its bulk by essays. And that’s exactly its major asset, at least for would-be academics like Yours Truly. Contributions by all sharp-edge theorists of the postmodern are featured: Baudrillard, Derrida, Lyotard, and obviously Jameson, along with more specific and cyberpunk-related material. There’s a 20-page interview McCaffery conducted with William Gibson (a must for all aficionados), from which we learn, for instance, that Gibson did not own a computer till after the publication of Neuromancer. Dig it: the groundwork for a whole poetics of the cyber age was laid by a guy who, by his own admission, had absolutely no idea what a computer was like! Within each section of the book contributions are arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Which as a completely arbitrary setting works as well as any other, and even creates curious and effective results: Steve Brown’s personal, non-academic account of his first-hand experience as an inside member of the burgeoning literary movement later known as cyberpunk comes before the heady stuff; McCaffery’s own material is smack in the middle; while Sterling’s canonical “Preface from Mirrorshades” is placed towards the end, coming after various essays that expand upon Sterling’s own declarations—so that by the time you get there, the classic cyberpunk manifesto has acquired several new layers of meaning. Many of the essays had already appeared in Mississippi Review 47/48 (1998), a special feature on cyberpunk edited by none other than McCaffery himself, which “probably marked the beginning of academia’s serious consideration of the cyberpunk aesthetic”. Storming the Reality Studio is but a re-edited and expanded version of MR 47/48. cf. streettech.com: http://bit.ly/eixKF8 and http://bit.ly/fQlcs0 But the reworking in book form brought radical changes. While MR 47/48 was only focused on cyberpunk proper, Storming the Reality Studio offers a new and much more daring thesis; namely, the convergence of two previously unrelated currents in postmodern literature: ● Postmodern science-fiction, i.e. cyberpunk. ● Quasi-SF texts by avantgarde writers (historically Burroughs and Pynchon, more recently Kathy Acker, Don DeLillo and Ted Mooney), superposing mainstream and genre fiction, i.e. Sterling’s slipstream narrative. -to be expanded-

  2. 4 out of 5

    kat

    This would be a good intro for someone who knew nothing about cyberpunk and its greater context in postmodern literature. However, I had read most of the fiction here before, and the nonfiction essays tended to be a bit beyond me. The book as a whole tends toward the dry and academic and, while you don't need a graduate degree in postmodern literature to follow all the references, I expect it would help. I enjoyed learning a few new tidbits about the predecessors and influences of cyberpunk, and This would be a good intro for someone who knew nothing about cyberpunk and its greater context in postmodern literature. However, I had read most of the fiction here before, and the nonfiction essays tended to be a bit beyond me. The book as a whole tends toward the dry and academic and, while you don't need a graduate degree in postmodern literature to follow all the references, I expect it would help. I enjoyed learning a few new tidbits about the predecessors and influences of cyberpunk, and I did discover a few new authors to add to my reading list. The best thing in this collection is the interview with William Gibson, in which he explains his relationship to technology and why the fact that he doesn't know much about computers isn't actually relevant to his stories.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten Byrnes

    For the avid cyberpunk reader, of you are interested in some more academic musings on the subgenre then this would interest you though I don't think it's all that in depth considering the book is a little dated at this point. Somethings still feel relevant but there are still some things to be enjoyed about the now more anachronistic aspects of these older pieces and essays. Now for the casual reader I would just recommend reading the actual books that are referenced and showcased.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Z

    One of the truly amazing books I've had the happiness to read. I keep going back to the stories in this book. It is not an easy light read but if you are interested in some awesome writing that pushes the boundaries of form and content, this is an amazing book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chibyke shade

    I stumbled upon this anthology entirely by chance, while browsing the department catalogue for texts on cyberpunk.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Warren

    A friend lent me this book. I was sad to see it is mostly a collection of other story snippets. So as soon as I got that far into the book, I just closed it. I'll go buy the books - don't need snippets. however, the introduction was incredible! probably worth owning this book just for it's excellent overview of the history of (and influences behind) the whole cyberpunk movement. Some really great thoughts on the evolution of science fiction.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Florin Pitea

    Read this in preparation of my PhD thesis on (post)cyberpunk fiction. The mixture of cyberpunk and postmodernist fiction does not necessarily come across as an even match - possibly because cyberpunk authors can actually build a plot and tell a story, whereas the po-mo crowd... ho-hum.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides

    I only read some of the short stories and one of the essays — just enough to establish that the weird time travel story I'm looking for was not contained herein. But it was interesting enough that later I might give the whole thing a try. I only read some of the short stories and one of the essays — just enough to establish that the weird time travel story I'm looking for was not contained herein. But it was interesting enough that later I might give the whole thing a try.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk & Postmodern Science Fiction by Larry McCaffery (1991) Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk & Postmodern Science Fiction by Larry McCaffery (1991)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    Interesting collection of stories, but I didn't get round to reading the articles.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Akasha

    For cyberpunk fans everywhere...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jon Lyndon

  13. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

  14. 4 out of 5

    Vic Bradley

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

  16. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jovany Agathe

  19. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jimmie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ansh Gupta

  22. 4 out of 5

    John

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrija

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Phoenix

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Mills

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lakshmi Nath

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  28. 5 out of 5

    Juan Diego

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chaz

  30. 4 out of 5

    Doug

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