Boundaries in cyberpunk fiction : William Gibson's Neuromancer trilogy, Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix, and Neal Stephenson's Snow crash

Toerien, Michelle (2000-03)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Cyberpunk literature explores the effects that developments in technology will have on the lives of individuals in the future. Technology is seen as having the potential to be of benefit to society, but it is also seen as a dangerous tool that can be used to severely limit humanity's freedom. Most of the characters in the texts I examine wish to perpetuate the boundaries that contain them in a desperate search for stability. Only a few individuals manage to move beyond the boundaries created by multinational corporations that use technology, drugs or religion for their own benefit. This thesis will provide a definition of cyberpunk and explore its development from science fiction and postmodern writing. The influence of postmodern thinking on cyberpunk literature can be seen in its move from stability to fluidity, and in its insistence on the impossibility of creating fixed boundaries. Cyberpunk does not see the future of humanity as stable, and argues that it will be necessary for humanity to move beyond the boundaries that contain it. The novels I discuss present different views concerning the nature of humanity's merging with technology. One view is that humanity is moving towards a posthuman future, while some argue that humanity is not discarded, but that these characters have merely evolved to the next step in the natural development of humankind. Both these views deal with constant change, a notion advocated by both postmodernism and cyberpunk.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: "Cyberpunk" literatuur ondersoek die uitwerking wat tegnologiese ontwikkeling in die toekoms op die lewens van individue sal hê. Tegnologie word gesien as tot moontlike voordeel vir die samelewing, maar dit kan ook 'n gevaarlike wapen wees wat gebruik kan word om die mens se vryheid in te perk. Die meerderheid van die karakters in die romans wat ek bespreek verkies om die grense wat hulle inperk te handhaaf in 'n desperate strewe na stabiliteit. Slegs 'n paar individue kry dit wel reg om verby die grense te breek wat deur multinasionale organisasies geskep word vir hul eie gewin. In hierdie tesis kyk ek na 'n definisie van "cyberpunk" en ek ondersoek die invloed van wetenskapsfiksie en postmodernisme op die ontwikkeling van die beweging. Die invloed van postmodernistiese denke kan gesien word in "cyberpunk" se fokus op veranderlikheid eerder as stabiliteit. "Cyberpunk" sien nie die toekoms van die mens as stabiel nie, en die argument is dat dit nodig is vir die mens om verby die grense te beweeg wat vryheid inperk. Die romans wat ek bespreek bevat verskillende sieninge oor die tipe samesmelting wat die mens en tegnologie sal hê. Sommige voel dat die kategorie "mens" permanent agterlaat gaan word, terwyl ander argumenteer dat individue slegs sal ontwikkel tot die volgende stap in die natuurlike ontwikkeling van die mens. Voortdurende verandering is die fokus van beide hierdie standpunte, en dit is ook die belangrikste fokus van beide "cyberpunk" en postmodernisme.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/51639
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