Friday, February 3, 2012

The Idea Man

This is the face of cyberpunk.

For reals.

Meet Vernor Vinge.

Few people associate Vernor with cyberpunk because his work reads like straight "hard" sf (with a cybernetics focus). There are no strung-out data cowboys wandering through a Megalopolis; no one gets high on exotic mil-spec drugs smuggled out of the decaying warehouses of the Russian army; the future isn't particularly grimy, and no one wears mirror shades at night.

But it was Vinge who used cyberspace in a short story called  True Names, three years before the publication of Neuromancer, and a year before William Gibson coined the term.

In his novella The Ungoverned, Vinge outlined how an anarchist/libertarian society might function, with the traditional roles of government - defense, justice, and other "monopolies of legitimate violence"- provided as services by private companies. This was 1985. It anticipated the "franchise governments" of Snowcrash and The Diamond Age by seven years.

And it's Vinge - yes, Vinge - who posited the Singularity and "technological runaway," unintentionally creating Transhumanism, a movement that is, for all intents and purposes, a techno-religion.

I like him.

No comments:

Post a Comment