Defining the Reality Hackers

 Wp-Content Uploads 2012 07 Rea2-2

In the cyberdelic lineage of RU Sirius's publishing efforts, the 1980s 'zine High Frontiers morphed into Reality Hackers which eventually evolved into the massively-influential Mondo 2000. The transition from a "psychedelic magazine with a tech gloss" to a "tech magazine with a psychedelic gloss" was spurred primarily by its editors' growing interest in cyberpunk, virtual reality, smart drugs, and weird science. But as RU writes in a new essay from the Mondo 2000 History Project, he also hoped to turn the 'zine into a commercially-sustainable venture supported in part by tech company ads. After all, "acid dealers didn't advertise." During the 1988 birth of Reality Hackers, RU came up with a description of the emerging subculture:

What Are The Reality Hackers Doing

1: Using high technology for a life beyond limits

2: Expanding the effectiveness and enjoyment of the human brain, mind, nervous system and senses

3: Blurring the distinction between science fiction and reality

4: Making big bureaucracy impossible

5: Entertaining any notion — using what works

6: Infusing new energy into postmodern culture

7: Using hardcore anthropology to understand human evolution

8: Using media to send out mutational memes (thought viruses)

9: Blurring the distinctions between high technology and magic

10: Replacing nerd mythology with sexy, healthy, aesthetic, & artful techno-magicians of both genders.

"From Psychedelic Magazine With A Tech Gloss To Tech Magazine With A Psychedelic Gloss (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #23)"


  1. I’ve never seen that cover before.  It’s an awesome homage to the Meko – Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk LP.

        1. @boingboing-e2c5182d1b95fa116e841650b6b426cc:disqus  Look closely, the artist’s signature says “RODRIGUEZ”.

          1. I recognized the space booty bumpers, too…I believe I bought that record at a garage sale or thrift store 10-15 years ago and should still have it now! It’s kind of hard to get at my records since they’re in storage as we do some work in our basement, but I’d really like to see if I was wise enough to hold onto this. 

            In the meantime, I get to free my galactic mind and ass, thanks to niktemadur!

  2. 22 years later, this magazine spawned a Trinity University lecture series titled “Reality Hackers: The Next Wave of Media Revolutionaries.” R.U. Sirius was one of the guest speakers. You can find a free copy of the anthology linked to the series posted to:

    You can also see a video of his lecture posted here:

    Though the ideas in Reality Hackers seemed far-fetched in 1988, Sirius clearly anticipated the “information revolution” of the 90s and 00s. If just a fraction of his most recent predictions turn out to be true, we are in for a wild ride during the years ahead. 

    Aaron Delwiche

  3. What happened to smart drugs? I wonder if anybody has been taking them continuously since the ’80’s with no ill effects?

  4. I salute my ideological ancestors. It is a tribute to their ideas that they can resonate with the mind of a youngster in a tropical country with no cable or Internet, but access to faded echoes of their thoughts and lots of science fiction.

    (And I condemn some of their crank ideas, I read Rushkoff’s Cyberia and I want to take my eyes off).

  5. This attempted transformation and the way it was leapfrogged by Wired was a minor plot in Douglas Rushkoff’s book Ecstasy Club. Does anyone know just how close to actual events that book was?

  6. Please tell me that I am not the only one who thought that space couple was doing something besides dancing.  And yes, I know the position isn’t exactly right, but it’s the FUTURE . . .

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