Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century

Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century

by Mark Dery
     
 

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An Unforgettable Journey into the Dark Heart of the Information Age

In Escape Velocity Mark Dery takes is on an electrifying tour of the high-tech subcultures that both celebrate and critique our wired world: would-be cyborgs who believe the body is obsolete and dream of downloading their minds into computers, cyber-hippies who boost their brainpower…  See more details below

Overview


An Unforgettable Journey into the Dark Heart of the Information Age

In Escape Velocity Mark Dery takes is on an electrifying tour of the high-tech subcultures that both celebrate and critique our wired world: would-be cyborgs who believe the body is obsolete and dream of downloading their minds into computers, cyber-hippies who boost their brainpower with smart drugs and mind machines, on-line swingers seeking cybersex on electronic bulletin boards, techno-primitives who sport "biomechanical" tattoos of computer circuitry; and cyberpunk roboticists whose Mad Max contraptions duel to the death before howling crowds.

Timely, trenchant, and provocative, Escape Velocity is the first truly critical inquiry into cyberculture-essential reading for everyone interested in computer culture and the shape of things to come.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Freelance cultural critic Dery takes readers on a strange, unsettling, often provocative tour through fringe computer subcultures. We meet cyber-hippies and ``technopagans'' who use the personal computer in New Age mystical rituals via echomail, a technology that links discussion groups into a communal conference. California roboticist Mark Pauline stages spectacles in which robots and humans are menaced by heavy machinery or remote-controlled weaponry, while Chico MacMurtrie's puppet-like robot musicians, acrobats and warriors enact ecotopian dramas. Australian cybernetic body artist Stelarc, plastered with electrodes and trailing wires, embodies the human/machine hybrid all of us are metaphorically becoming. Dery also profiles online swingers hooked on virtual sex, cyberpunk rockers, cyberpunk novelist William Gibson and D.A. Therrien's performance ensemble Comfort/ Control, which dramatizes popular anxieties over the autonomy of intelligent machines and the nightmare of humanity's obsolescence. Dery closes this adventurous inquiry with an appraisal of the ``posthumanist'' visions of novelist William Burroughs, techno-mystical SF author Vernor Vinge and Carnegie-Mellon roboticist Hans Moravec. Illustrated. (Feb.)
George Needham
"Escape velocity" refers to the speed a body must achieve to escape the gravitational pull of Earth. Dery contends that cyberculture--an underground world of high-tech performance artists and philosophers, cyberpunk authors and musicians, and technosex aficionados--is reaching its own escape velocity and will eventually free itself of the gravitational pull of history, tradition, and perhaps even evolution. Drawing his raw material from a wide variety of sources, Dery has produced an exhaustive and exhilarating book. Cyberculture, he demonstrates, threatens to forge a whole new meaning not only for technology but for what it means to be human: he discusses the kinds of music, art, and literature created through computer programs, and he relates experiments in life extension as well as plans to store human consciousness on CD-ROM. Some of this material is not for the squeamish, especially the treatment of "cybernetic body art," which includes putatively artistic self-mutilation, body piercing, and tattooing. Still, for librarians struggling to understand how the Internet will affect their reference departments, this book will be a mind-expanding voyage. For the initiated, it will be a handy travel guide.
Library Journal
04/01/2015
A prime example of avant-garde cyberpunk futurism. Spilling over with the wide-eyed tech enthusiasm common during the early days of the web and virtual reality, Dery presents cultural criticism on some of the more out-there projects that, in some cases, are still being pursued. While some of this work's content may have been superseded, its sociological value persists. (LJ 2/15/96)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802196507
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
12/01/2007
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
File size:
5 MB

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