Five Movements To Watch Out For in Science Fiction

ChinaMievilleChina Mieville in Omnivoracious:

v) Salvagepunk

As Steampunk wheezes and clanks exhausted into the buffers, dragging an increasingly huge load of books behind it, the hunt for the next great somethingpunk is over. The orgy of para-Victoriana has been impressively tenacious, but it has its limits, and rather than yet another reclamation of an earlier mode of production–steam, dust, stone, diesel–the punk aesthetic of DIY, cobbling-together, contrariness, discordance and disrespect for the past will go meta. It will investigate not imaginary branchline points in a timeline (an understandable if rather plaintive discomfort with the idea that such a line was actually teleological, and ended with this bloody mess) but history itself as always-already a bricolage, and what we do about that. Though this might look like apocalypse fiction, it will in fact be not about any implied catastrophe, but about scobbing together of culture from the refuse (and implying that all culture is and always has been so scobbed). An art of making-do, tool-use and ingenuity. A fiction infused with a militant amnesiac uninterest about cultural memes’ origins and ‘pure’ ‘original’ ‘purposes’ – which chimeras its adherents will derisively and polysemically render ‘pUr(e)poses’ – this will be literature that celebrates reclamation, and/but forgets that prefix ‘re-‘: so, clamation fiction, ignoring the fact that ruins are ruined, were ever anything else.

If Benjamin warns that history is a buffeted angel staring at a giant pile of debris, Salvagepunk ignores the angel and roots around in the debris looking for a car to hotwire.

Salvagepunk is the most developed of these schools so far: its bards and theorists already exist, and have brilliantly started the job of delineating its contours, and making notes for a manifesto. More than any other of these incipient movements, it will have a recent history of precursors on which to draw, Salvagepunk avant la lettre. These influences include the Mad Max films, The Bed Sitting Room, Charles Platt’s Garbage World, Steptoe and Son and the entire musical history of sampling, at all.