Many Former Cyberpunk Authors Now Write Fantasy
Cyberpunk has fallen from its peak in the 1980s and early 1990s, but the great cyberpunk authors are still writing. And many of them have turned to fantasy. Why is this?
What is it about fantasy that appeals to many of the greatest cyberpunk authors? We asked the authors themselves and also cooked up some theories of our own.
Rudy Rucker, author of the Ware tetralogy and Postsingular, among many others, has described his new novel Jim and the Flims as being akin to fantasy. Also, Black Glass author John Shirley published the mystical Bleak History in 2009.
Metrophage author Richard Kadrey has gained a huge following for his Sandman Slim novels — the third one, Aloha from Hell, is coming October 18. Richard K. Morgan, author of the cyberpunk Takeshi Kovacs novels, has written a bloody fantasy, The Steel Remains, with the sequel, The Cold Commands (or The Dark Commands), coming October 11. Meanwhile, some of Synners author Pat Cadigan’s recent stories have seemed much more fantasy-oriented.
What’s going on here?
io9: Why do so many former cyberpunk authors now write dark fantasy?
I’m partial to the “Cyberpunk has come true” explanation.
I hadn’t even realized this was going on, but it makes sense. Fantasy hasn’t held my interest since adolescence (I’m sure there’s good stuff out there, I just haven’t seen enough of it). But I’ve been thinking about the idea of fantasy a lot lately. It sounds like an interesting genre to explore, but starting with Gilgamesh, it’s the oldest genre out there. Seems like it would be hard to get new ideas out of it.
Map of the History of Fantasy and Science Fiction, From Gilgamesh to Battlestar Gallactica
Full sized image
Amazing map of the history of science fiction, from its fantasy origins in Gilgamesh to modern mainstream television with stops along the way for gothic novels, Frankenstein, H.G. Wells, Olaf Stapledon, cyberpunk and so much more.
This comes from the Mapping Science website, but I haven’t been able to find an entry for it there.
(I saw this all over the place, but special thanks to Ian for finally getting me to take a look)
Long, New Interview with Michael Moorcock
In contrast to the rural decencies of Tolkien, Moorcock’s writing belongs to an urban tradition, which celebrates the fantastical city as a place of chance and mystery. The wondrous spaces of M John Harrison, China Miéville, Fritz Leiber, Gene Wolfe and Alan Moore are all part of this, as are Iain Sinclair’s London, Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One, the part-virtual cyberpunk mazes of William Gibson and the decadent Paris of the Baudelarian flâneur. Like these other urban fantasists, Moorcock delights in a kind of sublime palimpsest, in imagining an environment that through size, age, scale or complexity exceeds our comprehension, producing fear and awe. Crucially, the city isn’t a place of moral clarity.
Moorcock’s dislike of authoritarian sentiment has led him in many directions: Jerry Cornelius’s ambiguity is sexual, social and even ontological; one of Moorcock’s most popular heroes, Elric, was written as a rebuke to the bluff, muscular goody-goodies that populate so much fantasy fiction. Elric, a decadent albino weakling, is amoral, perhaps even evil. As a not-so-metaphorical junkie, Elric allowed Moorcock to revel in unwholesomeness, and helped return fantasy to its roots in the late romanticism of the decadents, a literary school close to Moorcock’s heart. In a recent introduction to The Dancers at the End of Time, which is set in a decadent far future, Moorcock claims to have sported Wildean green carnations as a teenager, not to mention “the first pair of Edwardian flared trousers (made by Burton) as well as the first high-button frock coat to be seen in London since 1910″. Elric, much less robust than his creator, who admits his dandyish threads gave him “the bluff domestic air of a Hamburg Zeppelin commander”, is part Maldoror, part Yellow Book poseur and part William Burroughs; within a few years of his first appearance in 1961, British culture suddenly seemed to be producing real-life Elrics by the dozen, as Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and others defined an image of the English rock star as an effeminate, velvet-clad lotus-eater. Moorcock was very popular among musicians, and it’s tempting to see him as co-creator of the butterfly-on-a-wheel character, which still wanders the halls of English culture in guises ranging from Sebastian Horsley to Russell Brand. I ask him whether he felt at the time that the 60s rockers were living out a role he’d imagined. He’s too modest to agree, but tells an anecdote that seems to sum up psychedelic London’s openness to fantasy of all kinds. “I’m in the Mountain grill on the Portobello Road, where everyone used to meet to get on the tour buses. I’m sitting there, and this bloke called Geronimo is trying to sell me some dope. He says ‘have you heard about the tunnel under Ladbroke Grove?’. He starts to elaborate, about how it’s under the Poor Clares nunnery, and you can go into that and come out in an entirely different world. I said to him, ‘Geronimo, I think I wrote that’. It didn’t seem to bother him much.”
The Guardian: When Hari Kunzru met Michael Moorcock
RIP Frank Frazetta
Frazetta’s agent has confirmed that the artist passed away today.
Comics Beat: Frank Frazetta 1928-2010
Update: Check out this obit from Coilhouse – not safe for work.
Kyle Newman: Fanboys
“With the Star Wars saga officially wrapped up with Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, fans will seek out any remaining sliver of that galaxy far, far away on screen. The Clone Wars animated movie gave them a little bit of light drone lasering action, but what really caught their attention was Kyle Newman’s Fanboys.
Set in 1998, the film tells the story of four friends who learn that one of their number has terminal cancer, and will die before he gets to see the long-awaited Star Wars prequel, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Thus the gang scheme to break into Skywalker Ranch and steal a rough cut. This celluloid tribute to Star Wars fandom was supposed to hit theaters in August 2007, but distributor The Weinstein Company thought they could turn it into a bigger event. They hired Steven Brill to reshoot scenes with more dirty jokes and nudity, and removed that downer cancer bit. After news of the new version leaked, a grassroots online rebellion was mounted, spearheaded by a group called Stop Darth Weinstein who helped get Newman reinstated to deliver his version of the film, albeit two years later.
The saga wasn’t all bad for Newman. He met his wife, Jaime King, on the film. She plays a Las Vegas escort who plays Jedi mind tricks with one of the boys. The online support from fans who just wanted to see the original version also warmed his heart. However, the morning of his press junket in Beverly Hills, Newman was already visibly exhausted. The day was just beginning, but the journey to bring Fanboys to the screen was nearly over. All he had to do was keep his posture up on the sofa and answer questions about Weinstein as diplomatically as possible.”
(via Suicide Girls. Thanks Nicole!)
Ten Lessons Spider-Man Can Teach Our First Nerd President
“President Barack Obama is a nerd. A geek. A dork.
Last March, he said:
I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier.
Obama fulfilled the fanboy fantasy of flashing Leonard Nimoy the Vulcan salute, and on his now defunct official Senate web page, he posted an image of himself posing with the statue of Superman in Metropolis, Illinois. As a kid, he copied pictures of Spider-Man and Batman out of a friend’s comic books and he even uses geek speak while decked out in formalwear. Obama’s such a Spider-Man fandork that Marvel Comics made him a character this month in Amazing Spider-Man # 583. Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada said: “A Spider-Man fan moving into the Oval Office is an event that must be commemorated in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.”
So, at the dawn of his presidency, SG would like to offer Mr. Obama a few important political lessons that can be learned from the adventures of everyone’s favorite wall-crawler.”
(via Suicide Girls)
Sir Terry Pratchett trials revolutionary light helmet that promises to slow Alzheimer’s
“Sir Terry Pratchett has been trialling a revolutionary new device that claims to slow, and even reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s. The award-winning author, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2007, is one of the first patients in the UK to try the anti-dementia helmet. The device sends intense bursts of light at a particular wavelength the a patient’s skull.
The helmet’s designer, Dr Gordon Dougal is convinced the device could transform the lives of thousands of people with Alzheimer’s, which currently affects 700,000 people in the UK. The Discworld author, who has donated over £500,000 to the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, first contacted Dr Dougal about his invention last year. The County Durham-based GP said: ‘When Sir Terry’s people contacted me I was very happy to help. We made another prototype helmet and he has had that since last August.’
A custom-built helmet was made from a cast of Mr Pratchett’s head. It was then attached to the back of an armchair at the writer’s home in order that he could use it for the recommended six minutes each day. Mr Pratchett’s progress was assessed by a computer, which showed a small, but measurable, improvement in his condition after three months. More importantly, said Dr Dougal, the computer could find no signs of further deterioration during this period.”
(via The Daily Mail)
George Lucas to Put Star Wars on at London Stadium
“Just when it appeared that George Lucas had finally laid to rest his epic saga of Jedis, Wookies and Ewoks, he has announced that Star Wars will return as a stadium experience. The Times has learnt that Lucasfilm has authorised Star Wars: A Musical Journey, a retelling of the story that will combine excerpts of the film with live orchestral accompaniment. Diehard fans may dream of Jedi Knights serenading Jabba the Hutt and C-3PO singing “Don’t cry for me, R2-D2” but they are likely to be disappointed. Producers for the show, which will have its world premiere in Britain, emphasised that although actors would be used to narrate the story, it would not be a stage musical.
The production, which condenses more than 13 hours of film into 90 minutes, will be more like a classical music concert performed in front of a cinema screen, 27m (90ft) wide. The audience at the 17,000-seat O2 Arena in southeast London will watch key scenes from the film as 86 musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play extracts from John Williams’s score. The composer has reworked the music for the show, which will take place on April 10. Other shows may follow, depending on demand.”
(via The TimesOnline)