Monday 25 June 2012

Getting yo' mirrorshades rewired

I've recently taken the time to meander through the thoughtfully compiled Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, which is meant to chronicle those steps being taken to move us away from the near future menagerie of zaibatsu assassins and keyboard cowboys that cyberpunk established in the early eighties.

Though its editors previously rolled out the Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology this book emerged from and stills stands ass deep in the reproductive juices of Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, which was seminal in shaping the man who writes this blog.

Cyberpunk, as the name implies, is a species of postmodern science fiction that started to appear in the late seventies and began to find its feet in the early eighties. Like postmodernism it was a thing that was always going to happen. Its DNA was shaped and prepared in the opening salvos of the industrial revolution, and by the same token it was always going to produce its own progeny that carried with them the family resemblance in their tropes and the way that they swaggered.

There is a problem with what they are trying to establish here. While at its most axiomatic cyberpunk is about the keyboard rebellion, the traits and tropes that it has laid exclusive claim to can be found in less trendy science fiction as far back as the twenties, and in usage is a much broader term with a similar policy for rigidly acknowledging its borders as the People's Republic of China. There is no room for post-cyberpunk to lurk in its wake. The stories in Rewired are standing too close.

Kelly and Kessel are participating in an increasingly obsessive trend towards a fractal model when talking about genres and sub-genres in a fool's errand to hit the nail on the head. This is part of a bigger conversation about how and why we engage with all mediums of media and the degrees of meaningfulness of the categories we use to keep them separated. It is also part of a conversation about the contemporaneous use of categories that are defined by what they are not.

As a compilation of reasonably contemporary postmodern science fiction highlights covering a decade from 1996 to 2005 Rewired rolls with the big boys. It concisely packages the major tropes in chronological order, explored by only the most talented pens. It is especially interesting if you can get your hands on a copy of Mirrorshades.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Prometheus has broken my eyes and the way that I sleep

Look, yesterday I did manage to see Prometheus.

I saw it with a man I know. I'm not sure how he is feeling right now, but the new thing that Ridley has made permeated me in a way that I thought didn't happen anymore. Some part of it took up residence inside me, which is what the original film did to me, and I'm not yet at a stage where I can comment confidently on whether or not I actually liked it. I can tell you that I got home and lay face down on my bed for an hour to process.

This thing that I have witnessed is far closer to Alien in concept and intent than anything that has occupied the temporal space between them. In many ways I feel vindicated, as assumptions that I made about the mythology of the series have been confirmed, but at the same time it has started something new that affects the way I see people as they pass by me in the street.

I've had conversations with people about the film since I saw it, and I'm not sure I can see the same borehole in their psyche that I seem to have come away with. It has invaded my dreams, and they are now far less welcoming.

Monday 18 June 2012


I will be seeing Prometheus tomorrow.

To say that I have waited a long time for the release of a film that is related to Alien without being about Ripley would be an understatement. It has been a long time since I was amazed by Aliens.

I wasn't even a third of the way through Alien by the the time I had seen more in it than is in the entirety of everything that followed. I'm not aware of many people in my life who agree with me.

From the first film alone we take away so many questions. Where is the other ship from? Why are the eggs on board? What senses does the alien possess for processing the environment around it? How did 'the company' know there was something there to be found in the first place? Were the aliens engineered as a kind of tool for genocide, used to prepare planets by clearing all indigenous populations before returning to dormancy? Does the alien use the DNA from its host to help it adapt to its new environment? Can the alien survive in the vacuum of space?

No other film in the series really elicits this response. Worse than that, they drift further and further from any of the questions that were worth asking or answering with each sequel. Everything that gave the first film depth is destroyed or abandoned to follow a story about Ripley.

Prometheus is the sequel (or prequel) to Alien that I have always wanted.