Cybercultures (review)

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Bogstad, Janice M. "Cyberculture." Non-fiction review SFRA Review #266 (Oct./Nov./Dec. 2003): 9-12. As of November 2023 available on line at Digital Commons here.[1]

Review(s) of

David Bell and Barbara M. Kennedy, editors, The Cybercultures Reader (New York City: Routledge, 2000);
David Bell, An Introduction to Cybercultures (New York City: Routledge, 2001).

The Reader is an anthology of essays by various people, many of them major workers in the field(s), "put into thematic groupings and prefaced by short explanatory pieces by either Bell or Kennedy"; the Introduction is Bell's "rendering of a complex array of ideas" on this wide and, by the 2000s, densely-populated field. The opening sentences of Bogstad's second paragraph give an idea of the scope of these volumes: "The terminology of cyberculture, cyberfeminism, cyberspace, cyberpunk, cybersex, teledildonics, virtual reality [VR] and the other 'virtuals' is pervasive in Western, if not yet in World, culture. These books both reflect that phenomenon and attempt to chart its path and explain its growth" (p. 9).

Reader: JMB finds it "well balanced in terms of race and gender" and notes approvingly that  coverage of "a wide range of disciplines in an attempt to include the ever-increasing symbolic force of cyberculture as a centralizing concept in the contemporary west." In this anthology "Science Fiction fares well [...] with essay which include the standard [William] Gibson and [Bruce] Sterling, but also several others such as Maureen McHugh,[2] Pat Cadigan[3] and Melissa Scott [...]." There are studies of subcultures ranging from the  "academic (although not so-named)" to "gaming, marketing, military, music, pornographic, religious, right wing and survivalist, and techie" (p. 10).
Introduction: Shorter than the Reader and designed as a starter work "for the uninitiated." Deals with cyberspace and cyberculture somewhat differently from the Reader but with frequent references back to the Reader. Chapters begin with what we'll call a "pointer" comment indicating the topic of the chapter and then move into the relevant part of Bell's analysis of "the broader meaning of cyberculture," including consideration of "sex, race, class, gender" and "the non-technological parts of the world" (JMB p. 11). 

RDE, finishing, 14Nov23