Copyright 2010 Artyfax Creative
The book that spawned an entirely new subculture..
writer, and one-time draft dodger and current Vancouver resident, William Gibson.
The South Carolinian-turned Vancouverite, prolific writer and “noir prophet” extraordinaire is unarguably the creative genius (and true genesis) of not one, but two long-term “subgenres” found withinthe wildly-popular Science Fiction literary universe: Steampunk (The Difference Engine, an alternative-history novel produced in 1990, is considered the true ‘root work’), and the older, much-more evolved “high tech and low life” Cyberpunk movement. It was William Gibson, after all, who introduced us to the revered term cyberspace in one of his seminal short stories, Burning Chrome, and who later elevated the term to acceptable mainstream heights by popularizing the concept in his critically-acclaimed, landmark novel Neuromancer (1984). Gibson is also the creative muse that created a character named Johnny Mnemonic, one of the most popular cybernetic film characters, as portrayed by fellow Canadian Keanu Reeves in 1995.
The aesthetic commonly known as Steampunk is a relatively new phenomenon to literary and popular culture circles. While it is certainly true that H.G. Wells and Jules Verne in particular could be truly considered the “fathers” of all things that would, in the future, be associated with Steampunk, it wasn’t until Gibson wrote The Difference Engine that entire communities of admirers and enthusiasts began to spring up and start populating various costume, comic book and film conventions.
But there is still that old-world connection to the Victorian-era fascination and dependency on instant industrialization through steam-power, and therefore William Gibson’s “claim” (and one it must be pointed out that Gibson himself has never publicly made) to being the originator of Steampunk is somewhat flawed, and derivative, at best. This takes nothing away from the power of the man’s work: quite frankly, were it not for William Gibson, our Steampunk enthusiast brothers and sisters most assuredly would not have had such visual delights to enjoy over the past two decades at their comic book and sci-fi conventions, or within some of our movie theatres.
But the Cyberpunk realm: that is a diode made of an entirely different matter.
In fairness, post-apocalyptic story-telling and depressingly stark descriptions of simple, efficient trappings and surroundings first came to the fore of the public imagination when George Orwell unleashed his despicably delicious, modern cautionary parable Nineteen-Eighty-Four upon us a few short years after the end of the Second World War (1948). The world of Winston Smith is almost certainly a prototypical mental model of the worlds which followed a few decades later.One of these later efforts, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, by a nearly-forgotten but truly-ahead-of-his-time brilliant author by the name of Philip K. Dick, formed the basis for what is widely considered the absolute pinnacle of futuristic technological expression through cinematic excellence: the Ridley Scott-directed cult classic, Blade Runner. Philip K. was also the literary maestro behind similar “oppressive but with a ray of hope” hi-tech science fiction classics called Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, and Minority Report (all of which were made
(- Toronto, Canada -) How incredibly cool life must be, if you are
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