Argo, a thriller directed by and starring Ben Affleck, dramatizes the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran, during the 1979 hostage crisis. To infiltrate the country and facilitate the diplomats' return, CIA technician Tony Mendez concocts an incredible cover story: they're part of a film crew, scouting out locations in the Islamic republic for an epic science fiction movie. One core prop: a convincing, ready-to-shoot screenplay.
The movie obscures its real-life origins, but it started with one of the 1960s most cutting-edge novels, Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light. Winner of the 1968 Hugo Award, Lord of Light was inspired by Buddhist and Hindu texts and chronicles the lives of people who who have mastered mind-uploading, genetic engineering and bodily transmigration. Zelazny's novel, like many of Philip K. Dick's most hallucinatory narratives, anticipated many of cyberpunk's thematic concerns. (more…)