cyberpunk and cyberculture by Dani Cavallaro (book review)

Happy Monday!


I was at the library a few weeks ago and I found this book and was sold from the colourful cover and funky title “cyberpunk and cyberculture”(picture of book).  As per the back cover, “Dani Cavallaro is a researcher at the University of Westminster and a freelance writer specalising in contemporary Literature, aesthetics and critical theory.”  

cyberpunk and cyberculture is a literary analysis on science fiction and the first six cyberpunk and culturebooks of William Gibson including, Neromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988), The Difference Engine (1990), Virtual Light (1993), and Idoru (1996).  



Davallaro explores the motifs of SF lit and the subgenre cyberpunk in a variety of different respects rooting the genres in mythology, explores how the cyberbody is presented in the works and how it relates to contemporary issues pertaining to the body, gender and sexuality.  Most interesting and surprising to me is the convincing arguments Davallaro makes linking the genres SF lit and cyberpunk to the gothic, modifying my understanding of the gothic from a genre in itself to more of a meta-tag genre that can be used to better understand the place of SF lit in cannon.  



FULL DISCLOSURE: I haven’t read any William Gibson.  Sorry, please don’t shoot me! Neromancer has been on my list for almost 10 years and I didn’t realise this book was about those works when I got it and now it’s been moved up near the top of my “to read list”.


However, that being said, if you have an interest in Gibson’s books or an interest in lit crit I cannot recommend it enough. As a reader it has given me an additional lens not only to dissect my favourite genre but also a framework to approach troubling questions that are becoming increasingly hard to not consider in our changing society.   




Genres: Cultural Studies, Literature, Media Studies, sociology, science fiction


Favourite Quotes/Scenes:

  1. “In cyberculture, we encounter an eminently postmodern culturescape wherein technoscience challenges the western tendency to conceive of the real as fixed and of science as the means of quantifying and representing it. The real is now liable to be remade over and over. Science does not reflect the real but produces it according to human perceptions and projections. It is no longer a matter of adapting the ideal to the real but rather of making the real conform to the ideal. Neither is reality reliable nor is any available epistemology trusted with the power to grasp its essence.  Reality is a hall of mirrors. We may bring it to us in the virtually any guise we fancy and what we fancy may, paradoxically, coincide with what we most deeply abhor.”
    Page 36  
  2. “In Count Zero, voodoo is described as a ‘structure’ that ‘isn’t concerned with notions of salvation and transcendence’ but rather with ‘getting things done’ by recourse to many gods, spirits’.  Voodoo does not constitute a religion, mythology or mystical system so much as a business: it is an eminently ‘professional priesthood’.”
    Page 54
  3. “Building walls and declaring boundaries…creates both the possibility – and the desire – to transgress any or all of them…. A house makes secrets in merely being itself, for the function is to enclose spaces. And the larger, older, and more complex the structure becomes, the more likely it is to have secret or forgotten rooms.”
    Page 178, originally from A. Williams, Art of Darkness, p. 44 (see note 1)


Take away:

Without having read the works of William Gibson I do feel like I could have appreciated the book much more however as stated before it stands on its own for me and was a rather serendipitous find since I took both a SF lit and a Victorian Gothic lit class this year at Lancaster.  Also this book has provided me a framework to approach some subjects I’ve been researching for future essays on eco-activism with regard to gender, appropriation mania, and how virtual reality interacts with/shapes identity.  I plan to purchase a copy of this book for my personal library (which is the highest of honours I can offer a book since I don’t have an e-reader and try to keep my library relatively focused) for future reference.        


2 thoughts on “cyberpunk and cyberculture by Dani Cavallaro (book review)

  1. Pingback: The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (book review) | offbeat, on point

  2. Pingback: In the cold void of space no one can hear you GIVE A FUUUCK!!! (Cyberpunk Playlist) | offbeat, on point

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