Come On, Let's Go.
12Sep/111

Dream Wave

I watched the hell out of PBS's Ghostwriter as a kid, and I saw this episode below long before I knew who William Gibson (or, for that matter, Julia Stiles) was. Coming back to it, I find it a little weird that a kids' show would have a pre-teen character mentioning that she read Neuromancer. Yeah, the episode was the Internet Special of the series and she's supposed to be a bit of a delinquent -- can you guess who turns out to be the hacker? -- but that book is a chorus line of sex, drugs and violence. I wonder if this is one of those cases wherein whoever was supposed to check these things probably thought it was just some run-of-the-mill/made-up SF novel and let it slide. Either way, damn if I don't wish I had paid more attention and picked up the book when I was nine rather than nineteen. I'd be a millionaire by now. Or in a Turkish prison. Maybe both.

9Dec/102

Dead Channel

In February 1986, William Gibson sold the film rights to Neuromancer to Cabana Boys Production for $100,000 (if I remember correctly from a blog entry I can no longer locate and/or may be fabricating, he bought himself a new kitchen.) The rest of the story lays in this tax court document:

The company name was based on the fact that it was started by Ashley Tyler and Jeffrey Kinart, a pair of honest-to-goodness Beverly Hills cabana boys. The money came from the coffers of Mrs. Deborah Rosenberg (via her husband, renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Victor Rosenberg,) who the cabana boys met during the couple's stay at the Beverly Hills Hotel. They secured Timothy Leary and William Gibson himself as consultants and the film was to be written by Earl Mac Rauch, who previously penned the 1984 Peter Weller/John Lithgow postmodern pulp film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. The Cabana Boys Production of Neuromancer became the first failed production of the novel in what would eventually be a long line of failed attempts at adaptation. All that remains is this pre-pre-production promo featuring all the players mentioned above:

6Jan/101

The Gernsback Singularity

Like a vintage wine, the near future of the mid-1980s only grows finer with age.


Phantasia Press hardcover art. Artist unknown. Click for the king-size version.

4Nov/093

Tuned to a Dead Channel

Patrick Farley wrote and drew The Guy I Almost Was in 1998. Webcomics were still fetal then; it was long before the medium could sustain giant charity cons and make Time Magazine. I don't remember the first time I encountered the comic, although it must have been at least five or six years after being published. I was, at the time, younger than the protagonist and safe in my own dreams about how Fucking Awesome the future is going to be.


Click to read

I clearly remember reading William Gibson's seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer for the first time. I downloaded a copy off IRC, stuck it on my Palm Pilot and read a few chunks during one particular cybergoth night at the Pyramid. It was too early for the crowd, so we were just lounging around, all blaring music and club-smoke on an empty dancefloor. It was great – reading about the Panther Modern punks while intermittently peeking up to see if anyone interesting had showed up. My hearing was probably as bad then as it is now, so having a conversation with my friends without screaming “WHAT?!” every few seconds did not enthuse me. I'd play game after game of Yar's Revenge on the all-in-the-joystick Atari console at the bar (not being old enough to drink or slick enough to chalk my ID yet) and eventually, enough people would make the dancefloor tolerable and I'd finally hit it, grooving to the sweet sounds of And One and Wolfsheim. It was the closest to /feeling/ cyberpunk I'd ever encountered in my life. Whether the inherent isolation (reading books and playing video games at a nightclub) reflects poorer on my life or the concept itself is up for decision. I had fun.

Anyhow, back to the comic. TGIAW isn't just about cyberpunk, or a simple indictment of it. It's a personal story, kicked off by the protagonist's fleeing some angry housemates:

When school ended last month, I had to live somewhere. Of course, with a terrible credit rating like mine, (that trail of busted credit cards littering my passage through an "academic career") and no money for a deposit, it wouldn't be easy to find a place. My current housemates, fortunately, didn't check my credit or ask for anything upfront... they naively assumed that since I was in college, I must be a solvent young bourgeois like themselves.

I did nothing to disabuse them of this illusion.

It is about failed escapism from the dregs of being 20-something and not having a god damned clue. About the realization that people who share your dreams and fantasies aren't necessarily going to be your best buddies, or even tolerable human beings, for that matter. There's even a few dense pages of counterculture/media-theory rambling in there, but hell if it wasn't planted with the seeds of truth. And who can't love the irony of not having enough money to fund a neo-luddite lifestyle?

Anyhow, just read the damn comic. The illustration is a bit rough, but keep in mind this guy was carving out new territory as he was writing and drawing it. If you like it, make sure the give the author a shout.

(Thanks to Francis for reminding me it existed.)

   

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