WorldCon 2016: Is cyberpunk still a thing?

Disclaimer: I am not perfect and neither are my notes. If you notice anything that requires clarification or correction, please email me at melanie (dot) marttila (at) gmail (dot) com and I will fix things post-hasty.

Panellists: Cory Doctorow (moderator), Matt Jacobson, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, James Patrick Kelly, Pat Cadigan

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Joined in progress . . .

PNH: Cyberpunk is a course correction.

MJ: I think of cyberpunk in terms of the Max Headroom tagline: fifteen minutes into the future.

CD: The first generation/layer was written by people who were not computer professionals. The second focused on current technology and near future extrapolation. The third layer is an aesthetic.

PC: The first generation of cyberpunk writers was the first to grow up with mass media (television, radio, etc.). The Vietnam War was the first to be televised. They wrote about the influence of media and extrapolated what the influence of mass media might be in the future.

CD: In the 1980’s, money had a huge influence on the political process.

PNH: An aesthetic is a number of people who have similar intuitions about the world. It’s deliberately referencial.

JPK: Bruce Stirling tried to “end” cyberpunk, but the readers weren’t listening.

MJ: A thing would be whatever catches people’s attention.

PC: Cordwainer Smith and Alfred Bester were influences on cyberpunk.

PNH: Science fiction is one big conversation.

MJ: Cyberpunk has been taken over by tech noir. Shows like Mr. Robot and Person of Interest.

JPK: Cyberpunk emerged pre-Apple. For most users, a computer is indistinguishable from magic.

CD: The whole point of Mr. Robot is to strongly distinguish technology from magic.

MJ: Pokemon Go demonstrates just how easy it is to know where anyone is, anywhere in the world.

CD: Actually, your device uses the statistics from the game to triangulate your location and reports the information to Nintendo. That’s a lot more scary.

PC: In the early days of the internet, there were the BBS’s, the bulletin board services. Genie—the conversation never ends. Now mass media is to ambient, we’ve stopped seeing it. Information (and misinformation) is ubiquitous.

PNH: Science fiction has been doing the virtual presence thing since 1929 with the fanzines.

MJ: Cyberpunk intersects with maker culture. High tech is repurposed.

CD: The liminal moment was a queer programmer, Jennings. Cyberpunk concerns itself with the frontier of self and interrelatedness.

And that was time.

Next week: science fiction as epic.

And, of course, in the meantime, I’ll be curating Tipsday and Thoughty Thursday for you.

Be well. Stay safe. Love unconditionally.

That is all.

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Nov 22-28, 2015

We’re back on track and heading full steam ahead 🙂

K.M. Weiland shares more lessons she learned from writing Storming: How to write multiple antagonists.

And: Seven easy ways to research an historical novel.

Veronica Sicoe is sharing some of the lessons she’s learned from writing The Deep Link and The Prime Rift. Writing out of sequence is the best way to draft.

How to get comfortable with the f-word. Vaughan Roycroft for Writer Unboxed.

Brunonia Barry asks, are you writing for love or money? Writer Unboxed.

Julie Glover guests posts on Jami Gold’s blog about how grammar can strengthen our writing voice.

Angela Ackerman writes about creating characters that readers trust, but shouldn’t. Writers Helping Writers.

Chris Winkle shows us how to write a riveting fight scene. Mythcreants.

Chuck Wendig considers privilege.

The two posts mentioned in Chuck’s:

Further linkage to be clicked.

C.S. Lakin wonders, is backstory killing your books plot? The Write Life.

Shad interviews Nalo Hopkinson on diversity in science fiction for CBC’s Q.

NPR talks to Ta-Nehisi Coates about his work and the painful process of becoming conscious.

Martha Nussbaum explores how storytelling rewires us and why we have to befriend our neediness to be happy. BrainPickings.

Waterstones prepares for a new chapter as the chain returns to profitability. The Guardian.

Damien Walter writes about the genre versus literary debate. It’s a battle in which both side lose. The Guardian.

The BookBaby blog suggests you focus on your book’s back cover copy.

If you’ve enjoyed a good book and you’re a woman, the critics think you’re wrong. The Guardian.

How a Finnish librarian decoded the world’s folklore. Timeline.

The Best Sci-Fi Books presents its list of the 23 best cyberpunk novels.

Be well until Thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 21-27, 2015

W00t! You wanted moar writerly goodness? Well, here it is!

In local publishing news, Latitude 46 moves into the void left by Your Scrivener Press. The Northern Life.

Listen to K.M. Weiland’s weekly podcast (and subscribe) or read her companion post. Last week’s offering: What every writer ought to know about omniscient point of view (POV).

How to make your secondary characters truly memorable. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Will readers find you protagonist worthy? Angela Ackerman on Writers Helping Writers.

The bigger the dream, the greater the resistance. When resistance pays you a compliment. Steven Pressfield.

The four dangers of writing and critique groups. The title says ‘hidden dangers,’ but they’re not really hidden. First-timers and eternal optimists might be blind to them, though. Jennie Nash on Jane Friedman’s blog.

How to write about guns without sounding like a doorknob. Benjamin Sobieck (who was much more polite about it that I was) guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog.

The Listen Inside podcast from Readers in the Know features chapter 2 from Veronica Sicoe’s The Deep Link.

The ten best literary love songs brought to you by Quirk Books.

BuzzFeed compiles their list of the 53 best opening lines in literature.

Not to be outdone, Penguin Random House offered its list of captivating first lines.

In case you weren’t already crushed by the weight of your unread book stack, BuzzFeed compiles this list of ALL 339 books referenced in Gilmour Girls.

i09 lists its essential cyberpunk reads.

ZDNet shares their list of 26 essential science fiction novels that will help you prepare for the future.

Where Japanese science fiction has been and where it’s going. Japanese Times.

The 2015 Sunburst Awards finalists announced on the CBC.

And here’s Quill & Quire’s piece on the awards.

The brilliant ideas that didn’t make it into Pixar’s Inside Out. i09.

I must say that Phil and I are enjoying Sense8 quite a bit. Then again, we love well-developed character and story. The slow burn is just fine with us. Here’s Bram E. Geiben’s take on season 1 for i09.

Moar season 2 fodder for your Droughtlander jonesing. Carter Matt.

See you on Thoughty Thursday!

Tipsday

Ad Astra 2015 day 2: What’s your punk?

Panellists: Ian Keeling, Angela Keeley, Gemma Files

What's your punk? panel

AK: What is a –punk?

IK: Punk, to me, is an attitude. Skate punk, for instance. It’s anti-authoritarian. You find it in video games and anime.

GF: When you punk a genre, you’re deconstructing it.

AK: Punk comes from the music of the same name but is most closely identified with industrial and Goth sub-cultures. It’s an aesthetic. You can have diesel punk, steam punk, and desert punk (think Tank Girl or Mad Max).

GF: It can also transfer from fashion into fiction. “I’ve made this persona and I want a story that this persona can exist in.”

Q: How do you world build in a punk setting?

GF: There’s an element of alternative history. What if the industrial revolution had gotten stuck in the steam age? You look to the relevant historical period and research.

IK: You have to do enough research to make your world feel authentic.

AK: It’s retro-futurism. In fiction, look to H.G. Wells, Mary Shelley (Frankenstein), and Marlowe (Faust).

Q: I’d like to write in a(n) (Art) Deco punk setting. What should I aim for in terms of aesthetic?

GF: The aesthetic of an age is always attached to other things.

AK: Think of Gotham in Tim Burton’s Batman. The tortured but beautiful body was a fascination of the age. The 20’s were glittery and then the Great Depression happened.

Q: We haven’t mentioned cyberpunk yet. What about The Difference Engine?

AK: Charles Babbage was the inventor of the Babbage Engine, or the difference engine. In fiction the invention/thing itself is aware.

Q: Are there any contemporary punks?

AK: It’s hard to write an alternative history about now.

GF: Karl Schrader is a futurist, or rather an “ambiguist.” His question is, how do we make complicated ideas simple/accessible through story? The future is the only period that is wholly ambiguous.

AK: Colonialism belongs in this conversation. It has the transgressive and rebellious aspects required for a punk. Punk is always dystopian. Otherwise it’s gaslight fantasy. The prevailing mood of a dystopia is distrust of government.

IK: I’d argue that we live in a flawed society, not a dystopia.

GF: The horror iteration is splatter punk. It’s extreme in everything. It’s a response to mainstream horror authors like Stephen King, whom some people view as “tame.”

IK: Has punk lost its meaning?

AK: I don’t think so. Look at A Knight’s Tale. That’s medieval punk.

GF: Punk is intended to be offensive and in your face.

IK: Chaucer was a rowdy, irreverent writer. Was he punk, or meta? Is postmodernism the original punk?

GF: The Dadaists, maybe.

AK: Punk lacks the self-awareness of meta or postmodernism. A Clockwork Orange was not punk. It was a visceral reaction to the direction Burgess saw society heading in.

Q: Can you punk gender? How do you write a gender neutral being?

IK: Choose a pronoun/word and use it consistently, but realize that it will make your book more obscure/niche.

And that was time.

This was one of the most interesting panels I attended. It had a distinctively academic/intellectual bent that I kind of appreciated.

Tomorrow: How to get published with M.H. Callway, and Wordstock Sudbury. And things might get a little miscellaneous 😉