Penguin Planet
Satellite Uplink

Summary: The information culture has become one of the most innovative and important sectors of the multinational media culture. Satellite Uplink analyzes three turning-points in the trajectory of the information culture. William Burroughs’ Nova Express trilogy (1960-64) maps out the birth of the information culture; William Gibson’s mind-blowing Neuromancer (1984) documents the invention of cyberspace; while the astonishing cluster of 3D videogames in the 1998-2001 period (Valve's Half Life, Neil Manke's Half Life maps, Croteam's Serious Sam and Remedy's Max Payne) open the door to the information culture of the 21st century.


Chapter 1: On Information Culture Concept and categories of the information culture, how it relates to the global media and consumer culture, neoliberalism, and multinational capitalism, and what the stakes are in its interpretation.

Chapter 2: Dawn of the Information Age Maps out the prehistory of the information culture, showcasing William Burroughs' The Soft Machine (1960) and The Ticket That Exploded (1962) as prototypical cybernetic fictions. Themes include the transition from late modernism to early postmodernism, the Cold War media culture, and early narratives of globalization.

Chapter 3: Nova Express Tracks the emergence of genuinely multinational content in Burroughs' 1964 Nova Express, the transition from cybernetic fictions to cyborg narratives, and the structural affinities between 1960s-era micropolitics and postcolonial aesthetics.

Chapter 4: Neuromancer Analyzes William Gibson's cyberpunk classic as the breakthrough text of information culture in the 1980s. Fleshes out the cultural space of freeware, Net activism, and the electronic commons, and what all this has to do with the restructuring of local, national and international identities in the multinational era.

Chapter 5: Half Life Drawing on the rich traditions of Hong Kong action films, Japanese anime, Anglo-American speculative fantasy and blockbuster science fiction, the 3D videogames carried out the aesthetic revolution which virtual reality promised, but could never quite deliver. Analyzes the specific achievements of Valve Software's Half Life, the breakthrough 3D classic, and outlines the basic narrative categories of the 3D game, such as game-play, game scripting and texture design.

Chapter 6: The Black Widow's Lair Examines Neil Manke's extraordinary freeware mods for Half Life (particularly They Hunger) and the design innovations of Croteam's Serious Sam.

Chapter 7: Stargate Helsinki Analyzes Remedy's 3D action game Max Payne as one of the first great anti-neoliberal narratives, and documents the emergence of the EU as a powerhouse media producer in its own right.

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