“R.U. a Cyberpunk” from ‘Mondo 2000’ magazine, no. 10, 1993, p. 30.

gwire’s photostream on Flickr: “R.U. a Cyberpunk” from Mondo 2000 magazine, no. 10, 1993, p. 30. Uploaded online on January 7, 2012.

[UPDATE–2021.12.01] This entry was linked in a piece Madeline Ashby wrote for Wired: “It’s Time to Reimagine the Future of Cyberpunk”.

Mondo 2000 was a cyberpunk magazine which published 17 issues between 1984 and 1998. It was first edited by R. U. Sirius (Ken Goffman) who was later joined by editors Queen Moo (Alison Bailey Kennedy) and St. Jude (Jude Milhon). The team was completed by the addition of art director Bart Nagel.

The above picture was created as a parody or a spoof. The man appearing in the photo is Mondo collaborator and writer Chris Hudak. The image somehow went viral in the past few weeks, appearing on Boing Boing (May 24), on BuzzFeed (around the same time) on Laughing Squid (May 29) and more recently on reddit (June 16). Bruce Sterling uploaded the same image to his Flickr account on May 21, 2012.

Former Mondo editor R.U. Sirius who now runs the website Acceler8or (among other things) noticed the trend and, on June 5, he offered some comments about the photograph:

When we called the first edition of MONDO 2000 the cyberpunk issue, I don’t think we really had a persona in mind (although Larry Welz did present Cherry Poptart’s friend Elle Dee as a cyberpunk in that issue). Rather, I think we saw it as a sort of memeplex that would be pretty well expressed not only by interviewing 4 SF writers who were identified with the C-Punk genre (and I don’t think they actually called themselves cyberpunks… maybe some of them were happy to call themselves cyberpunk writers… John Shirley, maybe?); by interviewing the guys behind Max Headroom, by hipping people to Processed World and the latest from the Subgenius; by having mysterious articles on wicked computer hacks by “Lady Ada Lovelace” and “Michael Synergy.”

But did we really know anybody who would stand up in leather pants and shout, “I am a cyberpunk?” I think maybe Synergy was the only one in our circle who embraced the identity. Outside of Synergy, I don’t remember any of the outlaw type hackers we had the occasion to interview or hang out with adopting the ID.

Later, Chris Hudak, the cool looking dude in the “R.U. A Cyberpunk” thing seemed to embrace it. And a little later, St. Jude, myself and Bart Nagel were hired to create Cyberpunk Handbook, which was a humor book about how other people could get a clue and become cyberpunks. Eric Hughes, sharing the cover with Tiffany Lee Brown, identified as a cypherpunk… but that was a semi-organized group with a definite goal to overthrow everything with encryption technology. (Acceler8or: “R.U. A Cyberpunk? Well, Punk? R.U.? (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry # 18)” by R.U. Sirius, June 5, 2012)

Speaking of the Cyberpunk Handbook: its cover shares the basic principle of the “R.U. a Cyberpunk?” photograph. R.U. Sirius talked about the making of this book on Acceler8or: “The Glorious Cyberpunk Handbook Tour (Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #9)” (april 29, 2012)

‘Cyberpunk Handbook’ original cover design, New York: Random House, 1995

I wasn’t able to find a PDF copy of issue no. 10 of Mondo 2000, but this may be changing soon. Some original material from the magazine is being uploaded online. This is the result of a initiative started two years ago when the Kickstarter project “MONDO 2000: An Open Source History” successfully raised its funding goal:

MONDO 2000: An Open Source History is a web project and a book. All those who touched directly upon the history of the scene/magazine (including the earlier versions, High Frontiers and Reality Hackers) will be invited to write — or, in some cases, speak on video or audio — their stories and perceptions. Additionally, small groups of people will be encouraged to get together and record conversations. These will be posted on a private page available only to other participants. Participants will have the opportunity to insert comments into the text or add fresh entries.

At the end of the process, estimated to take approximately two years, a collaboratively-edited electronic document will be released on the web. A more closely-edited print book composed of selections from this process — edited by Ken Goffman aka R.U. Sirius (that’s me!) with Morgan Russell — will be published. Finally, the video footage might be rolled into a Mondo 2000 film documentary. (read more)

One can browse all recent updates for this specific Kickstarter project. As I wrote, actual results from this project are starting to be published on Acceler8or: see all posts tagged Mondo 2000.

Finally, two more links for those interested in the history of Mondo 2000:

  • From SF Weekly back in 1995: “Mondo 1995: Up and Down With the Next Millennium’s First Magazine” by Jack Boulware:

    “The term ‘cyberpunk’ has been used to describe music, lifestyles, and artistic sensibilities, but it really describes one narrow school of science-fiction writers,” Hudak says. “God, it was a good word … poetic, efficient, and romantic. Distance and passion. Machine and man. Technology and attitude. Cyberpunk. Great fuckin’ word. And what the hell; we stole it.”

    After several takes a break is called and the crew sips brew and chatters. Slouched against the refrigerator, R.U. compliments Hudak’s performance and adds, “Boy, am I working hard!”

    When did cyberpunk die? I ask.

    “1993,” smirks somebody. “The release of the Billy Idol record.”

  • Waxy.org writer Andy Baio once worked with R.U. Sirius (back in 1999). Over a decade later, he interviewed him about the Kickstarter project and the history of Mondo 2000. An introduction to this interview can be found on Waxy.org: “An Open-Source History of Mondo 2000” (May 12, 2010). The full interview can be accessed on the Kickstarter blog: “Podcast: An Open-Source History of Mondo 2000” (also May 12, 2010).

• • •

First spotted via Circuitos


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