Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century

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9780802135209: Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century

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of the high-tech subcultures that both celebrate and critique our wired world: would-be cyborgs who believe the body is obsolete and dream of downloading their minds into computers, cyber-hippies who boost their brainpower with smart drugs and mind machines, on-line swingers seeking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.

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Review:

A high-speed tour through the high-tech underground and its denizens. Dery introduces us to those who embrace computer technology, figuratively and literally -- cyberpunks, cyberhippies, cybersexers, and would-be cyborgs who believe the body is mere meat, and await the day when man-machine union is much more than mere science fiction. Dery draws heavily on academic theorists such as Bataille, Foucault, Baudrillard and McLuhan, yet his writing style makes for a highly accessible book.

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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