A few years ago, I started seeing evidence of the beginning swells of a nostalgia wave for the iconic 90s "cyberdelic" magazine Mondo 2000 and all things early 90s cyberpunk/cyberculture. One person on Facebook unearthed an old copy of Mondo, photographed it, and gushed all over it in a post. They asked (something like): "What could be cooler than a slick art magazine about virtual reality and cyberpunk, hacking, drugs and mind-alteration, weird art and high-weirdness?" I loved being able to respond: "Writing for it."
I also noticed, in 2014, when I published my writing collection, Borg Like Me, a lot of the focus in reviews was on the pieces reprinted from that era, from Mondo, bOING bOING (print), and my own zine, Going Gaga. People waxed nostalgic about that birth-of-cyberculture era, the creativity and promise that infused it, and the revolutionary dreams it inspired. Several reviews said: We need to bring some of this back. Stat!
It is perhaps that rising sentiment that has prompted Mondo's equally iconoclastic creator, RU Sirius, to resurface Mondo 2000 as an online blogazine. RU tells Boing Boing about the launch:
It seemed like time. What the world needs now is MONDO sweet Mondo. I mean, it's the only thing that there's just too little of…. aside from wealth distribution, attention spans, and lots of other stuff.
So far, I've found what RU has posted a surprisingly satisfying mix of reprints of old magazine content, summaries/commentaries on the print magazine (and its predecessors, High Frontiers and Reality Hacker), and new content, including new music from RU Sirius and friends. I'm really interested to see where he takes it. He's not able to pay for contributions at this time, but so far, the response of interest to get involved, to write for it, seems high.
Some of the new content includes "cyberpunk patient zero" (as William Gibson once called him) John Shirley, on how we may have to figure out a way to regulate the web after all, an appreciation for Tina Fey's controversial post-Charlottesville sheet cake bit on SNL, and a conversation between Doug Rushkoff and RU Sirius on the early potential and promises of the network revolution and how the bad guys figured out how to hack reality first.
The online premier of Mondo featured a pretty funny annotated editorial from the first issue of the magazine:
MONDO 2000 is here to cover the leading edge in hyperculture. We'll bring you the latest in human/technological interactive mutational forms as they happen. (COULD PROBABLY RERUN SOME TECH ARTICLES FROM MONDO 2000 MAGAZINE HERE SINCE MOST OF THE THINGS THAT WERE GONNA HAPPEN IN FIVE YEARS ARE STILL GONNA HAPPEN… IN 5 YEARS)
We're talking Cyber-Chautauqua: bringing cyberculture to the people! Artificial awareness modules. (THE GREAT THING ABOUT 1989 IS THAT YOU COULD JUST SAY STUFF THAT SOUNDS COOL… BECAUSE NOBODY KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT ANY OF THIS SORT OF SHIT) Visual music. Vidscan Magazines. (SOME PROJECT OF ALLAN LUNDELL & TAYLOR BARCROFT ANNOUNCED IN THIS FIRST MONDO ISSUE… IT DIDN'T MAKE IT TO ISSUE #2 … IT'S MEMORIALIZED IN DEAD MEDIA NOW) Brain-boosting technologies. (WELL, HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL FOR THINGS LIKE TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION — I'D LIKE TO TRY IT!) William Gibson's Cyberspace Matrix — fully realized! (SPEAKING OF BILL GIBSON, HIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS INTELLIGENCE INCREASE THROUGH DRUGS AND TECHNOLOGY IS THAT (PARAPHRASING) UNTIL HE SEES SOME IDIOT SUDDENLY WALKING AROUND BEING A GENIUS, HE'S NOT TOO INTERESTED… WHICH REMINDS ME OF LAWNMOWER MAN)
Sci-fi author and mathnaut Rudy Rucker has contributed a new cyberpunk short story, Fat Stream. It's always a trip and a treat to mainline Rudy Rucker's imagination for a while:
It's three am, and Zik is vamping a torch song, winding things down. The kazoo raver morphs his razz into big-band swing. The surfer is sculpting cold-light waves. Szex in the boots and gown is doing tai-chi moves. Fine, phine, phyne, vyne. But then Jumpy points his finger at me and — oopsy daisy — I'm screaming. I'm not in control. I've been pwned. My voice has rhythms like sentences — but none of the words sounds familiar. My visual field is sweeping in a circle. I see an old-world city. I'm hearing bells.
For you devout post-literate types, you can hear Rudy reading "Fat Stream" on his blog here.
The snark, the high-weirdness, the viewing of things from oddly askew angles, it's all here. I'm sure the singular yippie showmanship of RU Sirius will fully reveal itself too as the new publication accelerates to speed.
I asked RU what sorts of things he has in store for the future of this new incarnation of his beloved brand:
I'd like to do some rematches. People doing the same conversations with the same people these many years later. J.P. Barlow and Jaron Lanier? I'll see if I can make some of thes happen. Maybe you could re-interview Trent! [I interviewed Trent Reznor from the first Lollapalooza for Mondo No. 5]
Somebody has offered to work on some Mondo VR. That'd be appropriate. May take a bit to get around to that.
I honestly have to say, when I first saw the launch, I thought it might be a simple exercise in nostalgia (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). But this looks far more promising than that. I love hearing these old voices from the magazine again, filtered through Sirius's unique editorial eye. So far, it's been a fun "Where are they now?" (or more accurately, "What are they thinking now?"). I do hope that the contributor's roster expands to include younger, more contemporary voices. It's a fun exercise to think what a publication with the "pirate mind station" mentality of 90s Mondo would look like today. Hopefully, we're about to find out.