Larry McCaffery
Introduction:
The Desert
of the
Real
But how could we know when I was young
All the changes that were to come?
All the photos in the wallets on the battlefield
And now the terror of the scientific sun?
-The Clash, "Something About England"
It
is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges
subsist here and there, in the deserts which
are no longer those of the Empire, but our
own. The desert of the real itself.
-Jean Baudrillard, "The Precession of the
Simulacra"
i haven't fucked much
wi
the past but i've
fucked plenty
wi
the future.
-Patti Smith, "babelogue"
In gathering together the materials contained in Storming the Reality
Studio, I hope to create a context that will illuminate and broaden our
understanding of two enormously exciting topics that have broad sig-
nificance for postmodern culture generally. The first of these has to do
with the recent evolution of what I will call "postmodern science
fiction." This evolution was spurred on within genre
SF
by the "cyber-
punk controversy" during the 1980s. Sparked initially by the publi-
cation of William Gibson's Neuromancer in 1984, this controversy
spawned numerous critical debates in
SF
fanzines and at
SF
con-
ferences and ultimately had the effect of opening up a dialogue within
the field that encouraged even cyberpunk's most hardened opponents
to examine the nature and roles of the genre, especially as these have
been changing in response to postmodern culture. Equally significant
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