Before Max Headroom shilled for Coke and collaborated with the Art of Noise (below), he starred in this fantastic and prescient 1985 UK TV movie about a dystopic future. This brilliant bit of cyberpunk science fiction feels even more relevant today than it did back then.
Previously: "Max Headroom, the full story"
Every year, Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky take to The Well and conduct a weeks-long, wide-ranging "state of the world" discussion, trying to dig through to the zeitgeist's bedrock, taking questions from all comers (you don't need to be a WELL member to read, and you can send your questions in to Jonl). Read the rest
Game designer Chad Walker is crowdfunding his latest game: SIGMATA: This Signal Kills Fascists, shooting for USD10,000 in pre-orders to produce "a cyberpunk tabletop role-playing game about ethical insurgency against a fascist regime, taking place in a dystopian vision of 1980's America." Read the rest
In 1987, Jim Henson produced and directed this pitch reel for Inner Tube (aka IN-TV), a cyberpunk, culture-jamming series that just wasn't meant to be but did inform The Jim Henson Hour's MuppeTelevision segments. From Jim Henson: The Biography:
(Muppet Wiki and r/ObscureMedia)
At the heart of IN-TV was a clever concept; each week, a live guest star would get sucked into the television set and would have to work his way back out again, usually by moving from one bad television channel to another. It was a fun idea, giving Jim an opportunity to satirize the seemingly endless parade of upstart cable channels and lame public access shows that were common in the early days of cable.
Cyberpunk dystopia lifts from the reality and fantasy of contemporary Asian cities and cultures, but rarely reflects these sources in its human inventory. Sarah Emerson writes about the genre's fetish for Asia without the Asians, most recently on display in the curiously whitebread future of Blade Runner 2049.
neon kanji billboards. Neander Wallace's yukata, and Joi's cheongsam. The busy Chinatown. The interactive wall of anime apps. K's rice-filled bento box. The dual Japanese-English text on everything. All signs that point to a vibrant, multicultural city, but somehow devoid of non-white characters.
If Asians shaped this cyberpunk future, where are they?
Blade Runner and 2049 are like Orientalist art. Gorgeous, albeit skewed, depictions of "other" cultures meant to justify colonialism with their backwardness.
The people making the mistakes seem completely oblivious. They can pretend to get it when something egregious blows up, but then soon coast's clear they go back to casting Robert Downey Jr as Indira Gandhi or some other nonsense. Even when they do hire Asian actors for their exotic Asian hellscapes, they're liable to mess it up! Remember Cloud Atlas? About four fifths of it was brilliant, but the remainder was so hard to look at that the movie left my head the moment I left the theater.
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. Read the rest
With pre-orders open for the graphic novel collecting William Gibson's amazing comic book Archangel, and a linked novel on the way that ties the 2016 election to the world of The Peripheral, William Gibson has conducted a fascinating interview with Vulture on the surge in popularity in dystopian literature. Read the rest
Here's a 30-minute keynote that Bruce Sterling gave in 1994 to the ICA's "Towards the Aesthetics of the Future" VR conference in London. You should watch it, if only for the insight it gives into the early years of today's most contested technology questions. Read the rest
ENERGEIA FILMS is proud to be a part of the launch campaign for NOIR Systems's latest entry in the field of VR-enhanced rehabilitation -- the NSYS-EX. As seen in the new short film, HARSH REALITY!
What happens when the technology designed to help us is turned against us? Please help fund HARSH REALITY so you can find out!
VR dystopias are usually posed as an assault on our senses, on our privacy, our sense of self. But honoring the utopian viewpoint--VR as a manifestation of everything we want to see and become, an unfettered self--always held more power for me, especially as prelude to dystopia. The 1988(!) Red Dwarf episode Better Than Life, wherein fully-immersive VR is revealed as a way to completely idealize one's everyday personal flaws, remains my favorite! Read the rest
Hainan Island will be designated a special economic zone for "medical tourism," where foreigners will be able to fly to get cheap health care (similar to how offshore entities can go to Guandong Province to have cheap electronics manufactured) Read the rest
NSFW: Tomorrow Calling (1993) is a short film adaptation for television of William Gibson's 1981 short story "The Gernsback Continuum," from the seminal cyberpunk anthology Mirrorshades (1986), edited by Bruce Sterling, and Gibson's own Burning Chrome (1986) collection. Directed by Tim Leandro, Tomorrow Calling was first shown on Channel 4 in the UK.
Old-school bOING bOING editor Jon Lebkowsky invites everyone to Cyberpunk2017, the Annual EFF/EFF-Austin SXSW Afterparty in Austin, Texas, Saturday, March 11, 2017, from 5pm to 1am! It's free!
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Our latest EFF/EFF-Austin event takes a cyberpunk perspective on 2017, exploring how our vision of the future has changed over the last forty years of science-fiction made real, and considering this year as a turning point in the way we live our lives and participate in our society, as well as our sense of personal autonomy.
Cyberpunk imagined a world where the average person’s autonomy and privacy is commoditized and exploited by the shadowy machinations of global forces beyond our comprehension. “Information wants to be free,” and when a person’s image, voice, and words all manifest as data, their personal identity is potentially free for the taking.
In a world where dead actors are resurrected as data objects in major motion picture blockbusters, where a billion people’s account data can be stolen by a few rogue hackers, where software can edit video to show a person doing and saying things they never actually did or said, where services are free because users are the product, where truth is secondary to narrative, how can we hope to ensure that privacy and the right to one’s data and representation remains a fundamental, enshrined, and preserved right?
Taking place at The Butterfly Bar/The Vortex on Saturday, March 11th from 5:00pm-1:00am, there will be free drinks for our supporters who register in advance as well as illuminating talks from a variety of speakers including Cory Doctorow, Jon Lebkowsky, David DeMaris, Todd Manning, Jonathan Morgan, Owen McNally, and others.