Criticism: History And Cyberpunk - Essay

Ruth Curl (essay date 1992)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Metaphors of Cyberpunk: Ontology, Epistemology, and Science Fiction,” in Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative, edited by George Slusser and Tom Shippey, The University of Georgia Press, 1992, pp. 230-45.

[In the following essay, Curl explains the historical metaphors of science that led to the development of science fiction and cyberpunk.]

Science is not generally considered metaphoric. Rather, metaphor has been more or less consigned to the nonscientific realm, and more particularly to the literary sphere. A dichotomy has been established in which an either-or-proposition is expressed: if it is scientific it is not metaphor, and vice...

(The entire section is 6150 words.)

Erik Davis (essay date 1993)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Techgnosis: Magic, Memory, and the Angels of Information,” in South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. 92, No. 4, Fall, 1993, pp. 585-616.

[In the following essay, Davis analyzes the place of historical gnosticism and allegory in cyberpunk fiction.]

One of the most compelling snares is the use of the term metaphor to describe a correspondence between what the users see on the screen and how they should think about what they are manipulating. … There are clear connotations to the stage, theatrics, magic—all of which give much stronger hints as to the direction to be followed. For example, the screen as “paper to be marked on” is a...

(The entire section is 10915 words.)

Herbet Sussman (essay date 1994)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Cyberpunk Meets Charles Babbage: The Difference Engine as Alternative Victorian History,” in Victorian Studies, Vol. 38, No. 1, Autumn, 1994, pp. 1-23.

[In the following essay, Sussman discusses the cyberpunk reinterpretation of Victorian history in The Difference Engine.]

Taking responsibility for the social relations of science and technology means refusing an anti-science metaphysics, a demonology of technology, and so means embracing the skilful task of reconstructing the boundaries of daily life, in partial connection with others, in communication with all of our parts. It is not just that science and technology are possible...

(The entire section is 9011 words.)

Christine Kenyon Jones (essay date 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “SF and Romantic Biofictions: Aldiss, Gibson, Sterling, Powers,” in Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1, March, 1997, pp. 47-56.

[In the following essay, Jones finds similarities between cyberpunk and the period of English Romanticism.]

When St Paul's and Westminster Abbey shall stand, shapeless and nameless ruins, in the midst of an unpeopled marsh; when the piers of Waterloo Bridge shall become the nuclei of islets of reeds and osiers and cast the jagged shadows of their broken arches on the solitary stream, some transatlantic commentator will be weighing in the scales of some new and now unimagined system of criticism, the...

(The entire section is 4974 words.)

Steffen Hantke (essay date 1999)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Difference Engines and Other Infernal Devices: History According to Steampunk,” in Extrapolation, Vol. 40, No. 3, Fall, 1999, pp. 244-54.

[In the following essay, Hantke examines a subgenre of science fiction called “steampunk,” which rewrites and reinterprets events in the Victorian period.]

In the introduction to The Other Victorians, Steven Marcus states that “as we try to understand the past we try to understand ourselves in relation to the past” (xix). Marcus's words, as much as they provide a rationale for historiography in general, are particularly pertinent to the fascination that the Victorian period has for contemporary audiences....

(The entire section is 5431 words.)