21C is back with new material, plus archival material by or about Hakim Bey, William S. Burroughs, Erik Davis, Philip K. Dick, Ashley Crawford, Mark Dery, Verner Vinge, William Gibson, Rudy Rucker, Jack Parsons, Richard Metzger, Genesis P. Orridge, Kath Acker, JG Ballard, John Shirley, Robert Anton Wilson, Iain Sinclair, Terrence McKenna, Buckminster Fuller, R.U. Sirius, Timothy Leary, Bruce Sterling and more.
Sadly, in 1999, the company went bust, somewhat ironic given that 21•C in that form never made it into the Century after which it was named – the 21st. 21•C stalwart Mark Dery and I made some attempt to resuscitate the title early in the new millennium to no avail.
Yet many of the ideas and issues raised in the original magazine continued to arise, and with them perpetual queries as to how to get copies of the original articles, a nigh impossible task. With the prompting of two other 21•C stalwarts, Darren Tofts and Murray McKeich, it was decided to resurrect a core selection of articles in an archival on-line format. With Mick Stylianou’s wizard like help this was fairly painless. It didn’t take long to decide to add new material and it is hoped that new issues will be posted at semi-regular intervals.
This inaugural on-line issue takes as its theme Apocalypse Noir – the trend toward the apocalyptic, or at the least extremely dark – in contemporary writing. If earlier 21•C’s tended toward the darker aspects of cyberpunk, then the newer crop of writers have given up any pretense of a happy ending. Good luck!
To me these late-Ballard pieces, these Shepperton pieces – Cocaine Nights, Super-Cannes and so forth – really seem like gentle chiding from somebody who’s recognised that his civilisation really has gone mad. They’re a series of repetitions that say, “Look, we’re heading for a world where consensus reality really is just plain unsustainable, and the ideas that the majority of our people hold in their heart of hearts are just not connected to reality”. I think that may be a very prophetic assessment on his part. I think we may in fact be in such a world right now – where people have really just lost touch with the “reality-based community” and are basically just living in self-generated fantasy echo chambers that have no more to do with the nature of geopolitical reality than Athanasius Kircher or Castaneda’s Don Juan.