Taking Notes of Bruce Sterling, "Historypunk and Futuritypunk" (2010)

很久沒有作科幻研究閱讀筆記了,這篇也不算收錄在研究專書裡面,而是今年九月號 Locus 的 "Steampunk Unpacked" 專題第一篇。Bruce Sterling 當年為 Mirrorshades 寫序,可謂替 cyberpunk 奠定開宗明義的立論基礎(筆記在此)。此番再戰江湖,同樣為 steampunk 另立標竿,足見他對科幻(次)文類歷史分析仍有獨到的見地。

Bruce Sterling, "Historypunk and Futuritypunk" in Locus #596 (Sep 2010), p. 32.

首先正本清源,steampunk 一詞正是來自於 1987 年四月,K. W. Jeter 寫給 Locus 的投書:
Google did not inform me that the neologism "steampunk" first appeared in Locus magazine in April 1987.  Although it did.  Way back in the letter-column.  From K. W. Jeter.
No Locus, no steampunk.  That simple.(Jeter 投書全文見同頁右下角方塊。)
接下來試圖解釋當時 steampunk 開始有作品(Jeter、Blaylock、Powers),卻無法興盛(亦即傳統科幻 fandom 沒辦法承載 steampunk),得等到網路時代的原因:
......  Steampunk is not inherently literary.  It's native to network cyberculture.  Steampunk direly needed broadband and social media in order to thrive.  Steampunk was never about ink on paper.
Traditional sci-fi fandom, which came out of radio parts catalogs and drifted into paper fanzines and conventions, could not support steampunk.  The media economics were hostile, the barriers-to-entry were too high, and the search costs were prohibitive.  Given Internet, though, steampunk fans could aggregate into a critical mass.
接著探討其興起從何而來。是 Sterling 和 Gibson 合著的 The Difference Engine (1990),還是 BoingBoing 的倡導?Sterling 從科幻對未來和歷史的觀照提出他的看法,並力主 steampunk 和 cyberpunk 的相對性並不存在:
Science fiction is about futurity, they say, while history is about the past.  Steampunk, by ominous contrast, is a cybercultural, countercultural venture whose reason for being is to blur, subvert, erase or transcend those temporal differences.  In practice, it's a teenage  fangirl in a Gothic corset, a naive protagonist carrying tomorrow on her back.  At its high end, steampunk is a twenty-first century cultural space where the strictures of analog text can no longer define our relationship to the passage of time.
In other words -- in the words of Locus -- it's all about 1987, when the schools of "steampunk" and "cyberpunk" were in supposed opposition.  That opposition didn't exist.  Steampunks and cyberpunks were collegial artist working on the same conceptual problems.

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