Sunday, July 10, 2005



Buttonhead (2003)

From Cyberpunk 2020:

Buttonhead -- A person addicted to stimulating the pleasure centers through interface sockets.

From Songs of the Top 40 -- a collection of songs and lyrics for cyberpunks.

"Buttonhead" by Everything in a Sink (from the album Staring Glass):

Stuck in the bathroom,
Locked behind an open door
Studded into the deck
The only thing you really need
Is a hole in the head.

Broken by the world
Fled through the gates of paradise
Just plug in and braindance
Dance the night away,
If only with yourself.

Locked away behind an open door
Can’t find anything worth living for
Just a buttonhead.
But is it better than being dead?
Buttonhead: See Wirehead.

Wirehead: 1) Someone addicted to computers or electronic communication (e.g. a person who would rather hack then eat or have sex). 2) Someone addicted to electric stimulation directly applied to the pleasure centers of the brain, i.e. simsense [simulated sensory input -- usually pre-recorded] abuser.
Cyberpunk now comes in a spray can.


Cyberpunk is held by some to be merely a marketing label; others hold that it is the only worthwhile work being done in SF today. With literary antecedents that include Alfred Bester, John Brunner, and P.K. Dick, the current cyberpunk movement catapulted to prominence with William Gibson's Neuromancer, which swept the major SF awards of 1984. Which is not to say that the current wave labeled cyberpunk began with Neuromancer. Certainly Gibson's short fiction "Burning Chrome" and "Johnny Mnemonic" had received critical attention two to three years previously and writers such as Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and John Shirley were already influencing each other.

But it was Neuromancer that brought cyberpunk to the masses. Defined by Gibson's example, cyberpunk is marked by high-tech flash, dwelling particularly on human-computer interfaces and biological modifications to the human body. Cyberpunk prose traditionally (traditionally? already?) is intense and energy-filled, hard and glittery. Cyberpunk's heroes come from the ranks of the anti-heroes residing in the underside of society.


Beyond vision and character, cyberpunk's whole ethos is different. The ethos of traditional SF seems to be, "Things will work out if we try hard enough and in the right direction." Cyberpunk seems to counter with "Life is a bitch, and then you die, but a little hedonism and nihilism in the meanwhile is not a bad thing."


But when all the dust settles, this [Walter Jon Williams' Hardwired] is not the cyberpunk novel that you might expect from the cover illustration and superficial indications like prose style. Yes, we have a whole slew of cyberslang terms such as mudboy, dirtgirl, zonedancer, buttonhead, etc. And all the computer-jacking terms are there. But it's all sprayed on. What Williams has written is a good old- fashioned adventure romance and then lacquered it over with cyberpunk imagery.

Of course, buttonhead is also a band, a screw, a gene, and a character in a children's book:

I'm chippin' in with my cobbers.

Buttonhead goes to the farm to help Farmer Jo feed the
animals. Who is Buttonhead feeding? Lift the flaps to find out.

I don't need a pop-up book to know Buttonhead's sitrep. He's out diddy bopping with his animal gonks and feeling hexed cuz he knows they're hotdoggers. The farm is Injun Country -- and Farmer Jo's just Mr. Who. Buttonhead's no Saint Nick. He can smell the solar wind in the barn -- and, besides, he has his own kibbles.

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