Mirrorshades Postmodern Archive

Written by
Bruce Sterling

Schismatrix Plus

The Difference Engine, with William Gibson

Mirrorshades is currently out of print, but Amazon will try to find it for you.

Islands in the Net


Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier

Bruce Sterling's Picks!

The Watchman : The Twisted Life and Crimes of Serial Hacker Kevin Poulsen by Jonathan Littman
We should note that when not cleverly appropriating cars from gullible radio stations, Mr Poulsen is also a journalist of some note. How twisted can one man get?

The Fugitive Game : Online With Kevin Mitnick by Jonathan Littman
Spend more time with legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick than even his best friends can endure!

The Hacker Crackdown : Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier by Bruce Sterling
People always ask me if I plan to do another of these books. Forget about it. Bookstore owners have been known to panic when I publicly give this book away on floppy disks.

Cyberpunk : Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier by Katie Hafner and John Markoff
One of the rare works of hacker coverage that contains real interviews, verifiable citations, and extensive footnotes!

Takedown : The Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America's Most Wanted Computer Outlaw-By the Man Who Did It by John Markoff and Tsutomu Shimomura
I once saw this Shimomura character publicly fingerhack an AT&T cellphone in front of a Congressional committee. Shimomura was wearing Birkenstocks, ragged gray shorts and a wifebeater shirt, in public, in the hallowed halls of Washington DC. Listen to me hackerboy: don't annoy Shimomura, and if you do, don't come whining to the rest of us when you're a smoking heap of ruination afterwards.

Where Wizards Stay Up Late : The Origins of the Internet by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon
Every word is true! Not half as exciting as the urban legends about the Internet, but, well, it's true.

At Large : The Strange Case of the World's Biggest Internet Invasion by David Freedman and Charles Mann
They caught this super-fanatic hacker kid who'd got root on every machine imaginable. In real-life, he smelled really bad, and he had palsy, and could barely see, and his little deck-punching mitts were all crippled-up with carpal-tunnel, and was basically such a sickening geek creature that they didn't have the heart to prosecute him.

Masters of Deception : The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace by Michele Slatalla, Joshua Quittner
"Ruling Cyberspace" is really much, much less exciting than you imagine, unless it involves truckloads of IPO money, in which case it's still pretty boring, but at least you're rich.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and Peter Nicholls
This is far and away the best science fiction reference book ever written. You get this book and the St James TWENTIETH CENTURY SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS, and you pretty well got the genre covered.

Out of Control by Kevin Kelly
I read this thing in manuscript. It's just a great, visionary book, a unique and astonishing thing. Makes you believe that there really are ascended gurus in California.

Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition by Ed Regis
I'm pretty well convinced that the human race won't be strictly human much longer, but the kicker is that we'll be even more absurd, goofy and gullible than we are already. This book describes what happens when guys with degrees and research grants read way too much out-there sci-fi.

Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction by Scott Bukatman>
Postmodern theory weirdness is the great unrecognized science fiction subgenre. If you insist on reading stuff like this, you ought to read Scott Bukatman. He's much smarter and funnier than most of his theory-surfing colleagues.

Across the Wounded Galaxies : Interviews With Contemporary American Science Fiction Writers by Larry McCaffery (Editor)
Some really good behind-the-scenes insights here. Comes pretty close to revealing why science fiction writers think and behave the way they do.

Storming the Reality Studio : A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction Larry McCaffery (Editor)
If your lit professor looks down on your declasse' infatuation with sci-fi, you can brandish this thing in class and he's guaranteed to get all buffaloed and intimidated.

Also Recommended

Jon Lebkowsky's Picks

Happy Mutant Handbook
Whacked-out DIY pop culture handbook created by the editors of bOING-bOING.

Pioneer of Inner Space: The Life of Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Hasheesh Eater by Donald P. Dulchinos
"Drinking buddy of Whitman and Twain, New York Bohemian of the Sixties (the 1860's that is), pioneer psychedelic psychonaut and frontier Pythagorean, America's first Hasheesh Eater and confessional junky - this is the definitive biography of our psychic great-grandfather - Fitz Hugh Ludlow." - Hakim Bey, author, Temporary Autonomous Zone

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
Classic precursor of cyberpunk fiction. Entropy, cybernetics, and bananas are metaphors for universal forces: god's indifference, free will, and the uniqueness of the human condition as a negentropic (new lingo: extropic) force. Sewers and candy have prominent roles. A must for students of the cyberpunk non-genre.

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me by Richard Fariņa
If you missed the sixties, this is as close as you wanna get. Fariņa was Thomas Pynchon's roommate, and was married to Joan Baez's little sister Mimi. His promising career was nixed the night of the Been Down book launch party, when he was killed in a motorcycle crash. Richard and Mimi also made some fine records in the sixties folk vein...check out their Best of. Been Down lacks the literary substance of Pynchon's work, but it's a great, funny read.

Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by E. F. Schumacher
Schumacher proposes something similar to 'hip capitalism'...fair profitability without greed, an economics that puts people and community first.

Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi
I first encountered this book almost 25 years ago, and I've been reading and rereading it since, as I've tried to understand Buddhism. Suzuki-Roshi was a Soto zen master, which meant that he always stressed practice over theory. Just sit. It might take more than one read to get into his thinking...you can also get the audio cassette recorded by Peter Coyote, if you want to listen over and over again until it sinks in. David Chadwick has written a biography of Suzuki-Roshi called Crooked Cucumber. Incidentally, if you've avoided Buddhism because you think it's some kind of newage religion, forget it. It's a nontheistic practice, not a faith.

Tea from an Empty Cup by Pat Cadigan
Compelling thriller set in an immersive computer-mediated future reality

The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog : Access to Tools & Ideas for the Twenty-First Century by Howard Rheingold
Huge compendium, a postmodern Junior Woodchuck's Guide. Your humble servant edited the consciousness subdomain.

The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age by Allucquere Rosanne Stone>
Allucquere Rosanne "Sandy" Stone is a great whacky transgendered performer-theorist of late-century postmodern academia. I hear she's arm-wrestled Baudrillard and won.

Techgnosis : Myth, Magic, + Mysticism in the Age of Information by Erik Davis
In the lates sixties/early seventies I ran across some computer programmers who were studying occult practices. In their minds there seemed to be a connection between the art of computing and occult mysticism. Erik Davis' work explores this connection.

Transreal! by Rudy Rucker
Whacky-to-profound essays and scribblings by a cyberpunk pioneer.

Lipstick Traces : A Secret History of the 20th Century by Greil Marcus

> An aesthetic history of the punk ethos.
Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture, edited by Mark Dery
Great collection of essays about various aspects of cyberculture including the cyberpunk realm. Originally published as the Fall, 1993 edition of South Atlantic Quarterly.

The Best of Little Nemo in Slumber Land by Winsor McCay, Richard Marschall (Editor)
Forget the Disnified film version, which was good, but too cute. The original Little Nemo comic strips were and are a complete mindfuck. For more info, read my Little Nemo appreciation at boingboing.net.
Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell
Chillin' sci-fi horror story by John W. Campbell (originally written under his pseudonym, Don A. Stuart). Basis for two film versions by Howard Hawks and John Carpenter (the latter was much more faithful to the original story).

Gojiro, by Mark Jacobson
A surreal, funny take on the Godzilla mythos. It was only after reading this book that I appreciated the contemporary significance of the huge lizard (who, incidentally, also makes a cameo appearance in Pynchon's Vineland).

All and Everything : Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson by G. Gurdjieff
Masterwork by Fourth Way guru-scoundrel Gurdjieff. Difficult but rewarding.

Wax - Or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees (1993)
Video. David Blair's surreal vision of the hive. Read my interview with David around the time of Wax' release.

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
Classic sci-fi, considered by many one of the oldest precursors of cyberpunk.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Great sprawling novel about the American way of addiction, video, tennis and... hmm. Read this review

The Dark-Haired Girl by Philip Dick
Philip Dick was incredibly prolific; his science fiction stories set the stage for the "low-life, high tech" aspect of cyberpunk.

See also

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