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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Siliconpunk": the name itself is already obsolete

A discussion with Mr. Moles:

chrononaut: Somebody appears to think the stuff about filters and strategies in "True Names" wasn't meant to be taken literally.

plausible-fabulist: You mean "that computer stuff works as an sfnal metaphor"?

"Metaphor" may not be the right word, but I see where he's coming from. It's not really a 2009-era computer with processes, threads, a stack, a heap, etc.

chrononaut: Hey, it might be! That's as plausible as a 25th-century spaceship having thrusters, airlocks, ventilation ducts, a life support system... :)

plausible-fabulist: What do we call steampunk in which the archaic technology which is whimsically given the job of implementing far greater functionality than it could actually support is 21st rather than 19th c.?

chrononaut: I think between "True Names" and "Down and Out" we may have just invented siliconpunk. :)

plausible-fabulist: This email exchange needs to be blogged.

Update: On further reflection, David and I are of the opinion that "siliconpunk" sounds hoary: a beige, late-70s, early-80s flavor, the fairchild semiconductor era; the imagined future of computer nerds (not geeks, 'cause geeks didn't exist yet) before cyberpunk and the internet.

The actual extrapolation-of-now literature would be twitterpunk, but we are not hip enough to write that. Paging Alice Kim.

Posted by benrosen at June 9, 2009 02:38 PM | Up to blog

Wouldn't Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep also qualify, with its galaxy spanning newsgroups?

Posted by: Ted at June 10, 2009 08:25 AM

Oh, clearly. Now I want to come up with more examples -- but I don't think anyone will top "galaxy-spanning newsgroups."

I nominate Cryptonomicon as the distilled essence of siliconpunk. Apart from the actual plot points (encrypted data storage will save the world, re-inventing the digital computer, etc.), I submit, in evidence, a main character surnamed "Root" just so that their email can come from root@[domain] and cause the recipient of said email to think highly of the sender. (Instead of mocking them for sending mail while logged in as root? Whatevs.)

Posted by: Dan at June 11, 2009 07:31 PM

Although Cryptonimicon is near-future/alt-present SF, not far-future -- does this disqualify it from the siliconpunk category?

Posted by: Dan at June 11, 2009 07:32 PM

I think the proper siliconpunk aesthetic is pre-web. The later aesthetic of the dot-com era is something different (fiberpunk?) -- the retro-pulp to siliconpunk's retro-penny-dreadful.

Posted by: David Moles at June 11, 2009 09:25 PM

Fiberpunk sounds too much like something healthily dietetic -- evocative of Kellogg's fanfic like "The Road to Wellville"

Posted by: Benjamin Rosenbaum at June 19, 2009 02:23 PM

I like entropy-punk as a label for True Names ...

What we might label Silicon-Punk will eventually be dominated by other materials ... we could choose one like Silicon Carbide (SiC-Punk?) or we could refer slightly to the process, doping a material.


Posted by: Steven Klotz at July 11, 2009 03:23 AM
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