FAB Magazine: Short Stories & Interviews


A collaborative effort between the Creative Writing and Visual Communication departments, Fab magazine contains fictional stories, interviews and articles related to the theme of the issue. The issues #4, 5, 6 and 7 was on the theme of narration: beginning, characters, turning point, ending.

Interview with Bruce Sterling:
Enter the Cyberpunks

The Cyberpunk movement was an excellent social engineer, attracting extensive media attention as well a budding fan base. New technologies were transforming society in the 1980’s. With the use of the technology of computer networks and virtual reality, the writers of this movement recognised the potential of the future making an impact on the present.

The genre of science fiction combines the realities of the real world with mainstream literature. With the definitions and movement constantly changing with technology, it is difficult to pin down ‘cyberpunk’. The term was first coined by science fiction writers like William Gibson with his futuristic novel, ‘Neuromancer’ and Bruce Sterling’s ‘Islands on the Net’.

Cyberpunk science fiction was marked by distinct features: a postmodern style of writing which involved shifts in narrations, identities and the characters’ perspectives, with a central role of computers, virtual reality and the relationship between man and the machine. With networks of computers that dominate every aspect of life, the cyberpunk genre was dark and sinister. An element of novelty is also present as the characters are often underdogs or marginalized individuals brilliant at using computers and technology.

This new term created a turning point in science fiction as it led the way towards more credible speculation with its starting point looking at contemporary society and the likely trends to develop. Using popular culture as a medium, this genre of narrative has a tendency to be fast, violent with a penchant for information overload, tossing in concepts without further explanation.

There are different groups of ‘cyberpunks’; within the group known as ‘hackers’, some aim to promote decentralisation and open access to computer technology as they believe in the freedom of information and that people should be able to communicate with each other affordably. Others write and create software and open source codes so that people don’t have to pay exorbitant amounts for programmes.

Essentially, this vague term ‘Cyberpunk’ could mean many things, and anyone can be a cyberpunk in this day and age; someone who know no boundaries and brilliant at using technology to their advantage.

The pioneers of the movement include Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Rudy Rucker and John Shirley.

FAB: Given so many definitions of cyberpunk, could you tell us what it means to you and how you had originally defined it?

BS:Literary movements don’t start with definitions. They start with small groups of activists who share a sensibility, and the definitions come later.

Basically, there were two kinds of cyberpunks: counterculture people who were active in computer technology, and technical people who were involved in radical cultural activism. By my own nature, I’m one of the first group, but my sympathies are with that second group.

FAB: Where do you think you stand in the development of new media and technology? (as one of the forerunners of the ‘cyberpunk’ movement.)

BS: I’ve never been a technician, but I understand what technicians are talking about, and I’ve been pretty good at carrying knowledge from one area of technical practice into another. I’ve also had a few original ideas of my own, but, frankly, those are less important than ideas that seem original because they come from far away.

FAB: What do you think is the future of new media writing?

BS: That’s easy. The future of anything that calls itself “new” is always to become “old.”

FAB: Do you believe in being an armchair traveller through books/ internet, rather than to go out and experience first hand? (given that you’re an advocate of internet and technology)

BS: Oh no, I’m a major believer in leaving the armchair and going out to mix it up with real-world practitioners who have something to gain and lose. I’m not merely a dreamy literary figure, I’m a working journalist. I also make it a point to leave my homeland with great regularity. As I write this, I’m in Denmark.

FAB: What do you think about the ongoing lawsuit against google for the copyright infringement on books?

BS: I understand the means, motives and opportunities of all the parties, but I won’t involve myself in this controversy. It is merely a minor skirmish in a very complicated technosocial struggle that has been going on for decades.

FAB: What inspires you? Do you draw ideas/inspirations from everyday situations or do you rely solely on imagination to create some cosmic connection with the world?

BS: What really inspires me are the many interesting leakages between the so-called “cosmic” and the so-called “everyday.”

FAB: Is/Was there a writer you try/tried to emulate before you established your personal style?

BS: Yes, many. I’m still very interested in collaboration and pastiche. My personal style is not particularly personal.

FAB: Any advice for the aspiring sci-fi writer?

BS: Learn about your spiritual ancestors and don’t imagine that genres are permanent.

FAB: How do you see yourself in relation to the world today?

BS: The “world” is many billions of years old. I’m about five-sevenths of my way through my lifespan. I am a brief, passing phenomenon. Every day is a gift.

Side bar:
Bruce Sterling is currently a design teacher at a college in California. It is “some kind of hobby” for him at the moment, as he tells us, “It’s very educational!”

Bruce has published many novels which include Schismatrix (1985), Islands In The Net (1988), Heavy Weather (1994), Holy Fire (1996) and two collections of short stories: Crystal Express and Globalhead. In 1992, Bruce released his first nonfiction book, The Hacker Crackdown: Law And Disorder On The Electronic Frontier, exploring issues in computer crime and civil liberties. The entire text of the book was released on the Internet as non-commercial “literary freeware”. Bruce also writes for The New York Times, Newsday, Whole Earth Review, Details and Wired.







Neuromancer by William Gibson
Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson
Mirrorshades, a cyberpunk anthology Edited by Bruce Sterling
The Artificial Kid by Bruce Sterling

Download issue #6 here


Fabrica “On Air” : Teach Me Festival, 29 September- 2 October 2005

The 4-day Teach Me workshop culminated to a fruitful end as the different groups of students showcased their works produced at their workshops. Teach Me, Stories took place in Venice at the Magazzini Ligabue, from 29 September to 2 October 2005, jointly organised by the University IUAV of Venice (Faculty of Arts & Design) and Fabrica -the Communication Research Centre of Benetton.

This year, Teach Me was dedicated to object-related stories, told through the use of symbols, sounds, drawings, and writings that expound the unexplored elements in our environment. Professionals from interrelated fields with distinguished portfolios were invited to participate in the festival, including renowned photographers, film directors, writers and designers. Other highlights included a Chinese cooking show and performances by students from the Cranbrook Academy and Fabrica.

Of the wide-ranging workshops, Paul Davis’ workshop- “Boredom is the enemy” had an open brief for students to explore the possibilities of drawing and tell a story with images. With the liberty to create without limitations, students of the workshop produced a diverse range of stories; some took to the Venetian streets to create their own thematic story.

At “Objects that make sounds”, Momus introduced his workshop as an exercise to take revenge on machines in the digital age and to treat them as objects that make sounds rather than as sophisticated gadgets, and to create a narrative using sounds of all objects. The class went on a walk through the city of Venice to collect sounds made by objects and together they produced a 15 min DVD narrative story with the sounds collected.

Half of the Abäke team, Patrick and Benjamin conducted a workshop about connections; making the participants draw their favourite and most meaningful bridge on a piece of A4 paper. Next, they were asked to write down something that they knew better than anyone else in the room, essentially something very personal to the individual. Next, the class was paired randomly and asked to bridge the two topics into something deeper. For the final presentation, the class built a physical bridge out of tables and chairs in the room, which represented a final sculpture, or bridge of the workshop.

Merche, video artist/ musician, Spain

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your portfolio?

I’ve always been into music. When I was 19, I played in different bands, experimenting on my own until I finally found my personal style. Singing is my passion and I’m always on the look out for opportunities to make more music by collaborating or getting together with other people to create something new. A year and a half ago in Madrid, I started the Burbuja project and recorded my first album, produced by Christian Vogel. Right now, I’m experimenting with new mediums and the idea of taking music to another level. At Fabrica’s video department, I am developing the use of multimedia and finding ways to marry the medium of music and interactive media seamlessly.

What was your motivation/inspiration behind the performance piece?

It’s basically a collection of memories, ambient sounds and how the environment influences me, the way I think and how I react to my surroundings.

Tell us how you related your performance piece to the theme of ‘Teach me, Stories.’- a festival of images, words and sounds?

For me, it was like telling a story; singing about my personal experiences and memories. Together with videos and images on screen as well as Diego and Gregor’s performance with props, further enhanced the texture of the performance. It created a multi-faceted layer of performing songs as well as connecting the audience further with the visual elements from the videos. Like stories, it had a beginning, a narrative strung together with different physical elements like clocks and characters. Clocks are very important to me because I’m obsessed about time and in this day and age, I think time is all about money. So, I suppose my performance, like every story has a timeline and a sequential order.

Ben, Video Artist/ Hong Kong

Could you tell us a little about yourself and your portfolio?

I started in graphic design. Later, I started to explore more diverse fields like animations, music videos, commercials for fashion brands and record labels as well as documentaries. Currently, I’m at Fabrica’s video department working a range of projects. In fact, the recent documentary I’ve done will be released on national television soon. I also love cooking for others and throwing parties, so sharing the recipes at the workshop was a wonderful idea.

What was your motivation/inspiration behind the performance piece?

I was asked to do a workshop and I wasn’t sure of what I could teach, so I suggested cooking in jest and everyone really liked the idea. For the workshop, I prepared a list of simple dishes to make like dumplings (wanton), deep fried buns (man tou) and the Chinese delicacy of braised chicken feet for the adventurous. All the ingredients are easily available and accessible in the supermarkets and I thought it would be nice to introduce Chinese cuisine this way, as a sort of cultural exchange, where the audience could learn to cook but eat at the same time, making it a very interactive workshop.

Tell us how you related your performance piece to the theme of ‘Teach me, Stories.’- a festival of images, words and sounds?

For the cooking workshop of “Enter the Kitchen”, I made a video to play in the background, adapting a scene from Bruce Lee’s “Enter the dragon” where Bruce travels to an island on a boat, and I edited scenes of Venice and our Teach Me workshop venue into the video, to figuratively bring myself over to impart the knowledge of Chinese cooking.

With a hands-on approach, people were invited to participate by making dumplings, instead of just eating them. Cooking, like stories all have a beginning, a turning point and finally an end when you eat them. Preparations involved in putting together the ingredients with seasoning, subsequently watching the raw meats get cooked and finally, violà the food is ready to be eaten. Always a happy ending of course, unless the cooking goes awfully wrong.

At the end of four days, the students weren’t taught to tell stories per se, but the creative process provided them with the tools to experiment with daily subjects and objects to make stories. At times, the narratives were ridiculous and completely random, but it encouraged one to find various ways to bring life to a dull object. Bustling with activities, talks and lectures, the end of the workshops also saw new friendships made and students had a renewed passion for their craft after being inspired by the accomplished veterans in the different industries.


Download issue #7 here

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