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Jeremy Denny
Posted on Friday, August 18, 2006 - 01:36 am:   

Mr Morgan.
Trawling around the Forbidden Planet I came across this, Now I'm pretty cynical I checked the back cover blurb. and we have the expected stuff, corporate shenanigans, computer hacking violence. More significant was when, this is a recently published book. And when I checked the inside I found an endorsement from guess who ...?

Now I am not going to ask if you meant every thing you wrote . That would not be polite. I will say that I will buy this. Goodness knows there is so little else to read.

But is there a cyberpunk revival. Boing Boing is touting Chris Nakashima-Brown. . Mark Budz. is looking quite interesting. Is this all normal activity, or the beginning of a New wave of eighties cyberpunk (NWOEC)?
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richard morgan
Posted on Friday, August 18, 2006 - 05:44 am:   

Jeremy - I don't allow people to print quotes from me that I don't mean. Yes, as you can probably imagine, there is an uncomfortable amount of pressure to make nice in these cases, but I still refuse to blurb if I really don't like a book I'm asked to read. Conversely if I love a book unconditionally, I'll usually say so.

If, as is the case far more often, the book has (from my own personally prejudiced pov) strengths and weaknesses, then I'll stick to the strengths - say what I liked, and leave it at that. Partly this is because I feel it's incumbent on me to be honestly positive where there are grounds for it, but mostly it's because there is a wide spectrum of reader taste out there and while something may only partially light my fire, that doesn't mean it won't be a kick-ass read for someone else. What I try to do is highlight any common ground there may be between what I like about a book and what someone who likes my books may also like.

To be honest, I don't recall what I wrote about Hammerjack, but I do remember thinking it was fast moving and glitzy, full of cool stuff, nasty violence and some good plot twists, and that there was this one female character that I really wished I'd invented myself. Chances are that's what you found in the quote on the cover. Did I think Hammerjack was the finest cyberpunk novel I'd read that year? No. Did I say that. No. I gave the book the due I felt it deserved, which was to point up what I'd enjoyed about it. (And, for what it's worth, I think Marc Giller is a writer to watch).

By contrast, did I think Steph Swainston's Year of Our War was the finest fantasy novel I'd read that year. Yes, and I think the quote I gave reflected that. Do I think Hal Duncan's Vellum is the finest fantasy novel I've read this year. Yes, and again that extreme enthusiasm can be found in how I blurbed it. I really do have quite a high regard for the truth generally, but the fact my name is on the back cover of a book can mean a (narrow) variety of things, and it's incumbent on the prospective buyer to read the quote with care to find out where on the spectrum I happen to stand in each case.
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richard morgan
Posted on Friday, August 18, 2006 - 06:19 am:   

As regards the query about a cyberpunk revival, I'm not entirely sure I'm qualified to judge. I'm always slightly uneasy about my own novels being characterised with the CP label, because although Gibson and his crew were a major influence on me, there are some equally major differences in our approach and subject matter. The CP umbrella has in fact been unmercifully stretched to cover a multitude of sins.

What I tend to think is that during the cyberpunk era, Gibson et al provided SF with a new toolkit (itself loosely borrowed and re-tooled from other non-SF people's toolboxes) which had a wide spectrum of application and that we are all, post-Gibson, making use of that toolbox to a greater or lesser extent. Other movements have provided other toolkits in much the same way. After all, the fact that an SF novel contains weird or transgressive sex does not per se make it a neo-New Wave novel, for all that the New Wave is where that particular tool first flowered (ugh, now there's a Jeff Noon metaphor). The fact a story contains a faster than light stardrive does not signify a Golden Age revival, or even necessarily make the book a Space Opera novel for that matter. Thus, books involving biotech interfaces and consumer cultures need not per se be Cyberpunk. They owe CP for the texture, maybe, but that's a very different thing.

So, the short answer to your question is, I think: Yes, this is all normal activity. I don't think there's any kind of revival going on, and I think, to be honest, that neo-cyberpunk is really just a little bit unimaginative as an attempt at naming. Cyberpunk came and went, just like the Golden Age, just like the New Wave, and we are living and working with its legacy. Let's try to look forward rather than back, maybe stretch our imaginative capacity a bit, and find fresh names for what new writers are doing.

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