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Dark Lords of Cyberpunk Sore Vexed At Kessel and Kelly

Yesterday John Shirley and I exchanged some email, sharing our annoyance at being passed over by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly for their anthology, Rewired: The New Cyberpunk Anthology, due out from Tachyon in October, 2007. As if K & K ever really “got” cyberpunk. [Picture below shows me being vexed.]

Suggested alternate title for K & K’s book, were it a music compilation:
Pete Seeger and Mel Torme Present: Woo Hoo! Punk Rock For The 21st Century.

Brooding with Shirley (we’re good at that), the same old feelings that I had in the early 1980s came welling up. Excluded. Defiant. Nobody ever put it better than the Clash in “Garageland.”

Back in the garage with my bullshit detector
Carbon monoxide making sure it’s effective
People ringing up making offers for my life
But I just wanna stay in the garage all night

We’re a garage band
We come from garageland

Meanwhile things are hotting up in the West End alright
Contracts in the offices, groups in the night
My bummin’ slummin’ friends have all got new boots
An’ someone just asked me if the group would wear suits

I don’t wanna hear about what the rich are doing
I don’t wanna go to where the rich are going
They think they’re so clever, they think they’re so right
But the truth is only known by guttersnipes

Enough of that. I actually like Kessel, he’s an old friend, and from the little I’ve seen of Kelly, he’s a good guy, too. Maybe their anthology is great—but if you can’t be unfair and resentful in a blog, then where else? A wheel’s gotta squeak. Maybe some day K & K will edit a Transrealism anthology and if I don’t start bitching right now, they’ll leave me out of that too!

Well, hey, it’s just a story anthology. I can be bigger than that. After all, my cyberpunk novel Postsingular will be coming out in October, 2007, too.

Further consolation: a new issue of FLURB is coming soon. I have some good pieces lined up by John Shirley, Nick Herbert, Kris Saknussem, Mac Tonnies, and Paul DiFilippo. For my own contribution, I might run a little piece about a telepathic stoner gang called The Big Pig Posse, or possibly a story about Alan Turing’s murder by the British Secret Service. Not that there’s anything cyberpunk about that…

22 Responses to “Dark Lords of Cyberpunk Sore Vexed At Kessel and Kelly”

  1. john shirley Says:

    And then there was that slipstream anthology Tachyon did, also edited by K & K, also excluding me and Rudy. I was in some of the first slipstream publications…

    There are four people from Mirrorshades in this “new cyberpunks” anthology. I was not amused.

  2. John Kessel Says:

    What’s the use of doing an anthology if you can’t get someone really mad at you?

    Seriously, I make no claim to being a cp, but I’ve paid attention to it. Does someone who was not in MIRRORSHADES have no right to edit an anthology about cp and it’s successors? (The book is about developments in the last ten years IN THE WAKE OF cp). Does any anthology with the word cyberpunk on the cover need to include everyone who had a story in MIRRORSHADES? Or would it be better if we included NO ONE who had a story in MIRRORSHADES? Are those the only fair options?

    That said, I would be annoyed if someone did an anthology of humanist flavored sf and ignored my existence. I know I would be bitching to my wife and friends, and on my blog if I had one.

    Still, I bow to no one in my admiration of Dr. Rucker’s mind and fiction. Sorry, Rudy.

  3. john shirley Says:

    Then in your admiration of Rucker’s mind and fiction you should have invited him in. You know both he and I. And it’s not just anyone in mirrorshades:

    This is from the wiktionary–you can also find similar references in wikipedia, numerous encyclopedias, and the Newsweek article on the subject:


    A sub-genre of science fiction which focuses on computer or information technology and virtual reality, founding practitioners being Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, John Shirley and Rudy Rucker.
    Retrieved from “”

  4. john shirley Says:

    by the way Rudy and I collaborated on a story that I, at least, would identify as a cyberpunk or neo cyberpunk story, which appeared not long ago in the Red Shift anthology…

  5. Queso Says:

    Well, for me – the difference between including stories by Shirley and Rucker is the difference between being on my “to buy” list and being something I might possibly buy used at Bookmans.

  6. johnny Says:

    “That said, I would be annoyed if someone did an anthology of humanist flavored sf and ignored my existence.” J.K.

    We’re working on it.

  7. Ira L. Madclaw Says:

    Old punks.

    Youtube link for

    Rezillos play “Flying Saucer Attack”

    I think the litry type age a tad more gracefully. Still.

  8. john shirley Says:

    some are both:

  9. Ellen Says:

    I hear that is offering “Pete Seeger and Mel Torme Present: Woo Hoo! Punk Rock For The 21st Century” at a discounted price if it is purchased along with Pat Boone’s “In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy”. YAY! I think I’ll go slam dance to a Screamo band now. Michael Jackson taught me how!

    In all seriousness, though Pat Boone’s metal tribute album is also remarkably true, I just remembered that I ordered “BANG! – The Complete History of the Universe” by Brian May in November, and that I really should contact the Queen fan club to ask where it is! Thanks for jostling my neural network, and for being the greatest cyberpunk author in MY book.

  10. Kelson Philo Says:

    Say is that last picture from that Dali movie, Un Chien Andalou? I only ask because if so, it was a weird bit of synchronocity for me…

  11. ML Heath Says:

    “Pete Seeger and Mel Torme Present: Woo Hoo! Punk Rock For The 21st Century.”

    Sorry, I would have posted sooner, but I was laughing so hard I was gasping for air.

    Thank you Mr. Rucker for making my day, and my sympathies regarding you and John Shirley’s anthol exclusion.

  12. Ira L. Madclaw Says:

    I’m working on a collection called GREATEST FEMINIST SF WRITTEN BY MEN.

  13. Ira L. Madclaw Says:

    Punk dreams die softly.

    Youtube link for

    Paul Anka sings Nirvana’s “Smells LIke Teen Spirit”!

  14. Rudy Says:

    Thanks for all the support, guys. I feel a lot better now. This is a good thread.

    Special thanks to John Shirley for partnering up as hard cop for my soft cop. And visual thanks to Ira L. Madclaw of Dim Crawl, ALA, for the Youtube links:

    Rezillos play “Flying Saucer Attack”
    is amazing, I didn’t know about them, I think that singer is called Fay Fife? Aka Betty Rebel? Her moves are so great. I understand they were a Scottich punk/novelty band with an SF theme.

    And Paul Anka sings Nirvana’s “Smells LIke Teen Spirit”. Paul almost looks like an English professor! This cut is absotively, posolutely “widely acceptable” and “accessible” enough for Pete Seeger and Mel Torme Present: Woo Hoo! Punk Rock For The 21st Century!

    And yes, Kelson, that picture is from Le Chien Andalou, I originally posted the image in connection with the Pixies.

  15. linus Says:

    …. and the Rhino cd sleeve exclaims: “from another dimension entirely….” “Golden Throats vol. 4: Celebrities Butcher Songs of the Beatles,” contains perhaps one of the strangest and most chilling cover songs ever recorded: “The Brothers Four” lazy sluggish version of “Revolution.” Listening to this can be unhealthy…. (listen to a sample on amazon)…. or the intrepid cyberpunk can actually buy this out of print cd….
    what I always really wanted to hear was Alan Sherman singing “Axis: Bold as Love” on acoustic guitar…. yet this unfortunately does not exist…. “Just ask the Axis, he knows everything” in a smart-alec voice….

  16. christoph Says:

    I’m working on a collection called GREATEST FEMINIST SF WRITTEN BY MEN.

    At first I thought this must be a joke. But that joke would depend on the readers of Rudy Rucker’s blog assuming that men can’t be feminists, and surely you wouldn’t assume that.

  17. Rudy Says:

    The antic Ira L. Maclaw is seldom entirely earnest; his utterances are what Robert Stone terms Deep Play.

  18. Ira L. Madclaw Says:

    No, please, Rudy, let me be earnest. christoph: The joke does not depend on an assumption that men cannot be feminists, but on the fact that women are to be specifically and categorically excluded from a feminist anthology.

    This is not to criticize messrs. Kessell and Kelly, whom I believe should be left uninterfered-with, free to choose whomever they wish to put in their anthology. In my ideal anthology, the editor doesn’t personally know any of the authors and picks the stories entirely in the vacuum of their own personal taste and specific aims for that collection.

    I hope Rudy’s and John’s feelings of exclusion spur them to new heights of punkish creativity and to carve out new niches for others of their ilk. (FLURB, for instance.) But I think the whole field would be better if it were more about the stories and less about who knows who.

  19. Steve H Says:

    At ICFA there was some discussion of the fact that men keep winning the feminist Tiptree award, so you could actually do this collection, Ira. Rudy, K&K are both swell guys and I doubt they were thinking negatively about who they left out but more positively about who they could bring in. You and Shirley are obvious choices for a cyberpunk collection, but maybe not a ‘new cyberpunk’ collection. I started to ask what other Mirrorshades authors are included, but, er, let’s not even go there. I’m sure there was no intention to ignore or exclude either one of you. Hell, do your own collection: Dark Lords of Cyberspace would be an awesome title – imagine the cover?

  20. Ira L. Madclaw Says:

    Ideally, the men who win the Tiptree would be women writing under male pennames.

  21. Rudy Says:

    It wasn’t just the K&K anthology that made me discouraged last week. A number of other things came together at the same time.

    The director Michel Gondry dropped his film option on my novel Master of Space and Time, for one thing. In an interview with the editors of Coming Soon last year, Gondry was already hinting that it wasn’t going to work out: “It’s very hard, because all of the reasons why we [Gondry and writer Dan Clowes] both like the book are reasons why the studio would not do a movie. It’s quirky, it’s unpredictable, it’s absurd, it’s funny, and it’s not slick at all. It’s rough and grotesque.”

    Another thing getting my goat was seeing the latest Nebula awards ballot, with nothing of mine nominated, which makes thirty consecutive years of Nebula nomination shut-outs for me. I’d thought Mathematicians in Love might at least be nominated. I’m not sure I’ll ever write a better book.

    I’m just about over it now. I have to let these things go, or I can’t write. Time for some yoga in the sunny back yard. And to be grateful for all the good career things that I do have.

    * I’ve published 29 books and I’m still able to get my novels published, reviewed, and read and they’re reviewed more widely than ever.
    * I’m invited to speak in Amsterdam next month, and they’re putting me up for free for ten days.
    * I regularly get fan letters from people saying that my work has changed their life, and all of the SF writers that I meet have great respect for my work.
    * I had a successful career as a professor and now I’m comfortably retired with no really intense financial pressure, so I’m fully free to write.
    * I’m in good health and I’ve made it to 61.
    * I’m going good on a new novel.

    No problem!

  22. Ira L. Madclaw Says:

    If it’s any consolation, Science of Sleep was terrible.

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