Somebody’s Watching Me: Cyberpunk 30 Years On, and the Warnings We Didn’t Heed
Brian Chidester, Paste Magazine, November 18, 2014
“In the pre-internet days, cyberpunk titillated readers with its underworld of hackers, anarchists and punks hell-bent on disrupting an autocracy of anonymous oppressors. Others, like Bruce Sterling and Neil Stevenson, followed Gibson’s lead, releasing tomes that had critics and academics taking sci-fi seriously for the first time. Thirty years after they party-crashed the literary scene—with the internet now in roughly 75 percent of American homes, 40 percent worldwide—cyberpunk is largely forgotten. Many of their predictions, however, quietly came to pass.
Gibson first coined the term “cyberspace” in a 1982 short story titled “Burning Chrome.” His landmark debut novel, Neuromancer (1984), further conceptualized the virtual network that Gibson described as “a consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators in every nation.” Author Jack Womack said Neuromancer was less about predicting the future and more about affecting its lexicon. Though Gibson once saw them as “fantasies of anxiety,” today (like everyone), he’s an avid internet user. In just the past month, he’s tweeted nearly a thousand times.”