One of the most striking features of Fawcett and Sirkis’s cyberpunk narratives is their emphasis on race. On a superficial reading, the role of race in the novels would seem to be another repetition of a central trope from the US cyberpunk novels. As a number of critics have pointed out, racial distinctions play an important part in Gibson’s fiction. In her analysis of racial politics in the representation of cyberspace in US mass culture, Lisa Nakamura argues that cyberpunk fiction works to reaffirm “nostalgic and familiar” identity positions, including racial identities, at a time when these identities are being “reconfigured and re-envisioned.”1 Nakamura argues that although the increasing technological mediation of everyday communication seems to render identity more “fluid,” undermining the solidity of racial and gender stereotypes by making them seem contingent and manipulable, these stereotypes are more often than not reproduced and reaffirmed in the digital world. “Cybertypes” is the term she uses for the reaffirmation of racial and gender stereotypes as a way of “stabilizing a sense of the white self and identity that is threatened by the radical fluidity and disconnect between mind and body” that was celebrated by so much early cyberculture.2 We see this process of “shoring up nostalgic and familiar” identity positions most clearly in Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy in which Rastafarian communities (Neuromancer) and voodoo practitioners (Count Zero) represent a resistant force of essentialized embodiment against the disembodying forces of cyberspace.
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- Race and the Digital Body
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