Richard Kadrey
&
Larry McCaffery
Cyberpunk 101:
A Schematic Guide
to
Stonning the
Reality Studio
A quick list of the cultural artifacts that helped to shape
cyberpunk ideology and aesthetics, along with books by the
cyberpunks themselves, in roughly chronological order.
Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1989 [1818], Penguin). The recycling of
body parts, the creation of life (or monster making), murder, sex,
revenge, the epic chase, the brilliant scientist working outside the law,
a brooding, romantic atmosphere-this book is a veritable sourcebook
for
SF
motifs and cliches.
It
also created the first great myth of the
industrial revolution, and reflects the deeply schizophrenic attitude
toward science so evident in postmodern culture and in the fiction
emerging from this culture.
Red Harvest (Dashiell Hammett, 1929, Vintage). Established the basic
template for the hard-boiled detective format. The tough guy-loner
confronting a vast system of corruption with his own private code of
ethics, the vividly drawn underworld populated by sleazy criminal
types, the richly idiosyncratic lingoes, the violence and surrealism of
urban life-these motifs proved readily transferable to cyberpunk's
portrayal of survival in a multinational version of street life.
Last and First Men (Olaf Stapledon, 1937, Dover). Hardly a novel at
all. More like a long, brilliant encyclopedic essay on the next million-
or-so years of human evolution.
The Big Sleep (Raymond Chandler, 1939, Random House). Chandler's
smooth, polychromatic prose style and vision of the detective as knight-
errant has influenced more than one cyberpunk.
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