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kleinbl00  ·  855 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: We’re on the Brink of Cyberpunk

Neither William Gibson nor Bruce Sterling have written a story that doesn't hold, at its very heart, the tension between government and free enterprise. Gibson's stories tend to be about freelancers caught up in the grind betwixt the two. Sterling's tend to be about citizens caught up in the grind betwixt the two. To say that government is absent in cyberpunk is to miss the fucking point (as nearly everyone does): individuals benefit materially from interaction with the corporations until they don't, and then they're fucked. And they suffer materially from interaction with the government until they don't, and then they're saved. The fundamental message in pretty much everything William Gibson has ever written has been "the government will save you when it gets out of its own way and gets around to it so you'd better be resourceful enough to stay alive in the meantime." Interpol is the deus Ex Machina of so much of Gibson's oeuvre that it's kinda painful watching someone paint it into some dumb neolibertarian bullshit paradise.

Islands in the Net is even more on the nose. Corporations fuck around doing corporate stuff and then nation states take over and murder people and then the heroine gets kidnapped by terrorists, escapes with the help of a National Geographic reporter, posts a video from the desert somewhere that rallies everyone's patriotic fee fees such that Uncle Sam whips out his dick and blows up the terrorists on their surplus ex-Soviet nuclear submarine. I mean, there's this whole rant - one of the more interesting parts of the book - where Laura contemplates why her kidnappers are so in love with the '80s, down to their video games, which you have to play and play and play until you die, never able to beat them, never able to achieve anything, just grind away at Centipede or Missile Command or Asteroids until you're wiped out. Sterling goes as far as having her describe it as a Reagan Death Cult.

But I mean it's just noir. Raymond Chandler's heroes were always running afoul between big money and big government. "Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown."

It allowes a debt of gratitude to the attitudes of the '70s. The Prisoner, Rollerball, THX-1138, Logan's Run - they're all about the diffusion of individual liberty in favor of corporations.