Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Linguistic Footnote


I was having dinner with The Fabulous Pat Cadigan last night (as well as other good friends) when Pat, reminiscing, almost settled a small mystery I've been wondering about for over 35 years: the origins of the word cyberpunk.

Gardner Dozois, who was often credited with inventing the word because he was the first to apply it to people like William Gibson in print (and who, when told another person claimed precedence, "Let him have the credit; it never did me any good!") always said that he'd first heard it in conversation. From Pat Cadigan, he thought.  

So, as I said reminiscing, Pat told me that in 1979, she was either listening to the radio or watching TV (the restaurant was noisy), when Cars by Gary Numan came on. After the song, the DJ-or-VJ said, "Well, there's some cyberpunk for you."

Not long after, Pat carried the word into SF on foot... and the rest is rather well-documented.

The actual creator of the word may never be known. Unless it was on TV and somebody chances to stumble across the tape. And even then, who knows who the music jock himself got it from?

Language is a mysterious thing and endlessly wallowable-in.

Above: Pat, mugging for the camera in Helsinki.


1 comment:

skyknyt said...

how appropriate that Gary Numan was the first cyberpunk!