CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 William Gibson and His Cyberpunk Novels
As an emerging literary genre, science fiction is more than an imaginative vision or a simple prediction of the future, it also serves as a powerful metaphor for the present. Using scientific language, authors visualize people’s lives from a prophetic perspective, as well as explore the relationship between human beings and society. SF encourages readers to reflect on current social issues and think about the development of technology in the future.
SF was born in the 18th century as a result of the rapid development of science and technology. The 19th century was a development epoch for SF and a number of masters of SF came to the fore during this period, such as Jules Verne and H.G.Wells, etc. The 1950s were a golden era for the development of SF. During this period, Alfred Bester, A. C. Clarke and other founding fathers of SF wrote articles for two famous SF magazines Amazing Stories and Astounding. Many classic SF novels were also published during this time. In the 1960s, the British SF novelist Christopher Priest used the new wave “for an sf almost equally disruptive, existentially fraught and formally daring, that evolved around the British sf magazine New Worlds in the mid to late 1960s” (Broderick 50) and had been recognized by many SF writers. SF of this period began to avoid traditional themes and focus on the relationship between man and technology. In the 1980s, cyberpunk emerged as the latest evolution of SF.
1.2 Marcuse and His Theory of Technology Alienation
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a German-American philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School. Marcuse was known for his radical critical theory among the classic Western Marxist writers. In his writings, he criticized capitalism, modern technology, and entertainment culture. His representative works include Eros and Civilization (1955), One-Dimensional Man (1964) and Counter-Revolution and Revolt (1972), etc. And the most influential and representative one was One-Dimensional Man, in which he systematically expounded his technology alienation theory. Marcuse believed that technology had created an affluent industrial society with abundant material resources. Technology, however, did not bring mankind freedom and liberation, but enslaved them to production and consumption. He criticized that technology had deprived people of their sense of rebellion and made them submissive to the existing system, creating one-dimensional men and a one-dimensional society.
Engels points out that theoretical thinking, including our own, is a product of history. At different times, it takes on totally different forms and contains entirely different contents. (Wang Siqing 8) Marcuse lived in turbulent times. He witnessed people’s suffering during the three industrial revolutions and two world wars, and he was eager to make a difference. His theory of technology alienation was also born during this turbulent period.
CHAPTER TWO THE ONE-DIMENSIONAL SOCIETY UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF TECHNOLOGY ALIENATION
2.1 Social Aspect: Technology Is Power
Marcuse claims that “the prevailing forms of social control are technological in a new sense” (ODM 11). In traditional industrial societies, people have been primarily subordinated to the state apparatus, which is both productive and destructive. Often, this has been accompanied by coercion, including the use of the armed forces and police. However, the developed industrial society “distinguishes itself by conquering the centrifugal social forces with Technology rather than Terror” (xl). Modern society controls and manages human beings in a different way, which does not rely on laws, prisons and other state apparatuses. People live in a zone controlled and monitored by the network du