hold off Death

March 4, 2020

Out of the dark we came, into the dark we go. Like a storm-driven bird at night we fly out of the Nowhere; for a moment our wings are seen in the light of the fire, and, lo! we are gone again into the Nowhere. Life is nothing. Life is all. It is the Hand with which we hold off Death. It is the glow-worm that shines in the night-time and is black in the morning; it is the white breath of the oxen in winter; it is the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself at sunset.

H. Rider Haggard

King Solomon’s Mines

In spite of cyberpunk’s dominance within SF during the 1980s, the consensus among both SF writers and critics is that cyberpunk as a movement is essentially over. Many of the central core of cyberpunk authors, including William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Lewis Shiner, John Shirley, and Bruce Sterling, have turned to other projects. At the same time, although cyberpunk is still being written here and there, it is difficult to detect anything like a coherent group of second-generation cyberpunk writers. Nevertheless, however passé it may be as a self-conscious literary movement, cyberpunk continues to exert considerable influence on science-fiction writers, though in diffuse and often contradictory ways. At one extreme, cyberpunk has begun to function as an excluded “Other” against which many writers shape their fiction. Such is the case with such popular writers as Kim Stanley Robinson, Sheri Tepper, Connie Willis, and Pat Murphy, who, consciously or unconsciously, write against the grain of cyberpunk and in some cases seemingly in direct opposition to it. At the other extreme stand writers like George Alec Effinger, K.W. Jeter, Pat Cadigan, and Emma Bull, who persist in finding the themes and images of cyberpunk vital imaginative terrain, however cliched, or downright repugnant, those themes and images may now appear to others.

Claire Sponsler
Beyond the Ruins: The Geopolitics of Urban Decay and Cybernetic Play


March 4, 2020

Who anyone is or I am is nothing to the work. The writer
properly should be the last person that the reader or the listener need think about

yet the poet with her signature stands up trembling, grateful, mortally embarrassed

and especially embarrassing to herself, patting her hair and twittering If, if only

I need not have a physical appearance! To be sheer air, and mousseline!

and as she frets the minute wars scorch on through paranoias of the unreviewed

herded against a cold that drives us in together – then pat me more, Coventry

to fall from Anglo-Catholic clouds of drifting we’s high tones of feeling down
to microscopic horror scans of tiny shiny surfaces rammed up against the nose

cascading on Niagara, bobbed and jostled, racing rusted cans of Joseph Cotten reels

charmed with his decent gleam: once we as incense-shrouded ectoplasm gets blown

fresh drenched and scattered units pull on gloss coats to preen in their own polymer:

still it’s not right to flare and quiver at some fictive ‘worldly boredom of the young’

through middle-aged hormonal pride of Madame, one must bleed; it’s necessary . . .

Mop mop georgette. The only point of holding up my blood is if you’d think So what?

We’ve all got some of that: since then you’d each feel better; less apart. – Hardly:

it’s more for me to know that I have got some, like a textbook sexual anxiety
while the social-worker poet in me would like her revenge for having been born and left.

What forces the lyric person to put itself on trial though it must stay rigorously uninteresting?

Does it count on its dullness to seem human and strongly lovable; a veil for the monomania

which likes to feel itself helpless and touching at times? Or else it backs off to get sassy

since arch isn’t far from desperate: So take me or leave me. No, wait, I didn’t mean leave

me, wait, just don’t – or don’t flick and skim to the foot of a page and then get up to go –

Denise Riley

Today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups… So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.

Philip K. Dick
How To Build A Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later
The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings


March 4, 2020

Do I believe in ghosts?” You know…I’ve had my experiences. After my parents divorced my dad moved into a house where the woman who owned it previously died shortly before. The doors used to slam very loudly. Objects would move when I left the room. Eventually I got fed up and shouted “REALLY?” when I found the remote on top of our fridge.

Despite that though, I’m not sure I believe in ghosts. Maybe not in the sense that horror fiction portrays them. And perhaps because I never saw anything. I heard stuff. But I never saw anything! No apparitions, no wraiths. And now that I say that, I hope I never do. I can’t honestly know how I would handle it.

S.L. Edwards
Whiskey and Other Unusual Ghosts: an interview with S.L. Edwards by William Tea, 16th July 2019

The poet’s role

March 4, 2020

In the internet age, where we are at liberty to download such a plethora of texts – to reproduce them, recycle them, change their appearance by altering font, typeface, spacing, size – context and framing become the key elements. The poet’s role has become, in the literal sense, that of a word processor, finding how best to absorb, recharge and redistribute the language that is already there…

What, in this new poetry, has happened to the authentic voice?…The fabled ‘sensitivity’ of the Creative Writer gives way to a sensitivity to language that is almost like a fever – a sensitivity that has been the distinguishing mark of the poet from the Troubadours to George Herbert…Emily Dickinson…Susan Howe…

Marjorie Perloff

On poetry as the language art – PN Review

write about anything

March 4, 2020

I suppose a poet ought to be an all-rounder and be able to write about anything, but that’s not how I work. I write about what I have to write about, not what I ought to write about. I do hope that my parental themes broach more universal themes, such as: themes of violence and gender issues, and our precarious relationship with the natural world, the exploitation of nature, women, children. I hope one day to write powerfully about the natural world for its own sake, though I have tried. Maybe I’ll write about the nature in my new locale, Cornwall, as I get to know it in some depth, who knows?

Pascale Petit
Interviewed by Antony Huen

Things don’t have purposes, as if the universe were a machine, where every part has a useful function. What’s the function of a galaxy? I don’t know if our life has a purpose and I don’t see that it matters. What does matter is that we’re a part. Like a thread in a cloth or a grass-blade in a field. It is and we are. What we do is like wind blowing on the grass. […] We’re in the world, not against it. […] The world is, no matter how we think it ought to be. You have to be with it. You have to let it be.

 Ursula Le Guin

The Lathe of Heaven