Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Cyberpunk is a Literary Light?

zuzu has a new article over at Feministe that links to a list from LitLine of the "100 best first lines from novels"

I don't know the parameters used by LitLIne to select the novels to include (Novels with great first lines? First lines from great novels? Great Novels with great first lines?).

One of the listed entries is the opening line from Bill Gibson's novel Neuromancer, which has sometimes been described at the first in the "cyberpunk" genre (even though Bruce Bethke coined the term earlier in 1980). Someone in the comments section over at Feministe seemed surprised that something that was modern Science Fiction was included in a "literature" list.

There are a slew of "academics" who don't regard Gibson's Sprawl cycle as "Science Fiction." They can point to the fact that he didn't own a computer until after Neuromancer was successful and that he had typed the manuscript using manual typewriter.

Maybe they consider those works as "futurist magical realism," I suppose.

When I asked him about it during a convention he thought that those who claimed *he* didn't think of it as SF were full of themselves.

The interview/Q&A session was actually somewhat surreal.

Gibson had been slated to be the Writer Guest of Honor (GOH) at the con, but bailed at the last minute because his father-in-law suddenly passed on, so instead of being in a hotel in suburban Boston, he was in Texas. (Readercon 8, 1996)

The GOH interview was conducted in the ballroom, and the GOH's virtual presence was accommodated by the consensual reality via a fax machine, whereby the questions and answers were communicated from the assembled multitude.

Bear in mind that was much before the advent of personal, casual access to anything like high-speed access, so this was a "cutting edge" endeavor.

This same stratagem was used during a panel discussion, where someone was delegated to fax the panel discussion to Texas, and then read the resulting comments aloud. This resulted in some significant propagation delay, comparable to, say, Pluto (as characterized by one audience member)

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