Joost Raessens (by way of AndreasBroeckmann) on Mon, 31 May 1999 14:07:14 +0200 (CEST)

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nettime-nl: Lezing cyberpunk 1 juni

Georganiseerd door de specialisatie Nieuwe media en digitale cultuur
Instituut Media en Re/presentatie, Universiteit Utrecht
DINSDAG 1 JUNI TRANS 10, ZAAL 2.04, 17.00-19.00 UUR

Change for the machines - uncontrolled technology in cyberpunk
Pavel Frelik
Maria Curie-Sklodowska University, Lublin, Poland

In her "Manifesto for Cyborgs" Donna Haraway writes of the postmodern and
post-industrial reality in which "late twentieth-century machines have made
thoroughly ambiguous the difference between natural and artificial, mind
and body, self-developing and externally designed, and many other
distinctions that used to apply to organisms and machines. Our machines are
frighteningly lively, and we ourselves frighteningly inert." Science
fiction has traditionally been a mode of writing devoted to presenting,
among others, the interaction between man and machine. It is, however,
science fiction's latest development, cyberpunk, which really succeeds in
showing the full implications of such a relationship and envisioning
Haraway's statement. Varied and diverse as they are, most cyberpunk
narratives share the sense of uncontrolled and uncontrollable technology.
During my talk, I first want to characterize briefly the ways in which
cyberpunk is different from other SF forms. The main discussion will cover
four distinct ways in which cyberpunk writers envision technology as
operating in cyberpunk narratives and transcending human control: by
blurring once clear divisions between the organic and the mechanical and
replacing nature as man's natural environment; by invading human body and
becoming an active agent in the process of dehumanization; by achieving
sentience and liberating itself in the form of artificial intelligences;
and finally, by making the human life obsolete as nanotechnology does in
selected narratives. I will also try to account for the reasons of such a
consistent vision, which most of cyberpunk narratives present. The writers
discussed will include William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan,
Kathleen Ann Goonan, Greg Bear, Walter Jon Williams, Michael Swanwick, and

Pavel Frelik is junior lecturer in Department of American Literature and
Culture at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland. He is
currently writing on technophobia in postmodern science fiction. Pavel
Frelik is an author of a number of articles on postmodern American fiction
and science fiction.  He has also translated several pieces of what he
academically preaches into Polish. Last year, he was a fellow in Summer
Institute for American Literature at UC at Santa Barbara.

Joost Raessens
Nieuwe media en digitale cultuur
Universiteit Utrecht
Faculteit der Letteren
Instituut Media en Re/presentatie
Kromme Nieuwegracht 29
3512 HD Utrecht
Tel. 030-2536270/6125

Piersonstraat 73
6511 GK Nijmegen
Tel. 024-3606198

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