By P. Youngquist
Cyberfiction: After the longer term explores an international the place cybernetics units the phrases for all times and tradition - our international of ubiquitous info-tech, instant capital flows, and immanent disaster. Economics fuses with know-how to create a brand new form of speculative fiction: cyberfiction. Paul Youngquist unearths the ways that J. G. Ballard, Philip ok. Dick, Samuel Delany, Octavia Butler, and William Gibson, between others, map a territory the place info reigns perfect and the long run is changing into a specific thing of the previous.
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Additional info for Cyberfiction After the Future
In Gernsback’s day most of them hawked jobs—futures of a personally improving sort. , self-improvement gives way to self-satisfaction and commodities come to the fore. The June 1938 issue of Amazing Stories carries ads for Ex-Lax, Star razor blades (4 for 10 cents), Cremo Cigars, Yello-bowl pipes, pimple medication, and other goods. The familiar exhortations to careers in bookkeeping, electrical engineering, and automobile repair are still there, but now they accompany full or half page ads for other Ziff-Davis publications, Popular Photography or Popular Aviation.
It would be sentimental from this perspective to believe that society is an exclusively human order. Dogs, cows, cats, plants, computers, automobiles, televisions, and now even toasters all send and receive messages. The interesting question for cybernetics is whether they do so in a way that enhances their persistence. If such entities are, in a sense, the messages they emit, then they are better understood as patterns of information than as organisms in any traditional sense. “Life” is a pattern of information that communicates patterns.
This narrative strategy is not entirely without precedent. Charles Dickens anticipates it in A Christmas Carol (1843) when Ebenezer Scrooge receives his troubling visitations from the spirits of Christmas past, present, and future. It is revealing in this regard that Scrooge’s future involves a vision of enslavement to capital. His old boss Marley remains eternally shackled to the practice of double-entry accounting. Bookkeeping is a bad investment if hoarding specie is its only return. Scrooge returns to his present a changed man ready to defy the logic of accumulation.
Cyberfiction After the Future by P. Youngquist