Anya Weber's Reviews > Escape Velocity: Cyberculture at the End of the Century

Escape Velocity by Mark Dery
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Apr 20, 2009

really liked it

So how about it, ladies--would you rather be a goddess or a cyborg?

"Escape Velocity" examines our changing relationships to our bodies, minds, spirits, and especially the technology in which we currently float, twist, and dream. Who else but Mark Dery would draw such elegant parallels between bodybuilders and cyberpunks, or between cyborg technology and James Brown's "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine"?

Dery wrote this book over 15 years ago, and some of his subjects, such as certain performance artists whose work he goes into in great depth, no longer feel relevant. But tons of other content here does, from the discussion of early versions of cybersex on the online bulletin boards of the mid-1990s to his examination of the links between punk music and cyberpunk science fiction.

Notable also for Dery's ultra-clear, and useful, applications of critical and literary theories to unexpected subjects. Normally I'd run screaming from a paragraph about "post-structuralism," but Dery breaks it down painlessly and actually makes it do work.

This is a denser and somewhat more difficult read than Dery's Pyrotechnic Insanitarium, but it's full of fascinating insights about where technology is leading us, and vice versa.
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