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This is an excerpt of about the first 1/3 of the interview from Cyber-Psychos AOD #7.

Controlling the Uncontrolled: JOHN SHIRLEY
An Interview by The Joey Zone

The reason I read, illustrated, and eventually began to review the Cyberpunk genre was not so much the "Cyber" as the "punk" attitude promised but rarely delivered in the prose. William Gibson? More like F. Scott Fitzgerald. Bruce Sterling? See Oswald Spengler. Other writers labelled Cyberpunk refused the moniker, derided its intent or, worse, are having their agents plaster advance copies as such -- shooting the curl of a trend they would cynically disown if it should wash ashore. John Shirley? A WOP BOP-A-LOO-BOP A WOP BAM-BOOM! The real deal -- fuck that Cybershit -- Punk's not dead, it's in his kiss... His writing carries passion and sheer abandonment of any simple Clarion approach. This stuff bears examination now and not postmortem, ie, dissect, say, Phil Dick all ya wants -- I'd much prefer to observe John Shirley-LIVE! apace in his cage right now. While comparisons of PKD and Shirley's personal life are possible, why descend to such pithy levels when you can discuss their art? But the brutal truths of Shirley's prose exist because "you've got to walk it like you talk it, or you'll lose that beat" -- and he hasn't missed one... Outside of Cyberpunk (Transmaniacon, most recently the Eclipse Trilogy) he's written Horror (Dracula in Love, most recently Silicon Embrace/Mark Ziesing) and New Noir (The Brigade, most recently -- surprise -- New Noir/Black Ice Books). There are horrific elements in his SF, and the New Noir batch, while "realistic" in the sense that all the events could take place, are based on "surrealistic" truths that run throughout all his "fiction". This approach can also be found examining his work for film and television (most successfully, despite what he says, in The Crow, and recently for VR5). Of course, when fronting punk bands in the late 1970s, one had to have a surrealistic approach to life -- which is where we start this interview.

ROCKnROLL/ "...This made me throw up and then I had to go on -- it was a good show."

?: You've said: "SF and rock come from separate poles and meet at the equator." What are these 2 poles and when do you think the 'equator' has been reached successfully by you or other writers/musicians?

John: The 2 poles are: the intellectually-centered, in the case of real SF, and emotional instinctively-centered in the case of rocknroll. They share imagery; the small versus the big, the David versus the Goliath, the individual versus the state. Each one prizes technology; each one prizes high energy. Lew Shiner's reached the equator; Bruce Sterling in Schizmatrix; Brian Aldiss; much of Ballard though he probably hates rocknroll; Gibson any number of places; Richard Kadrey in many stories and Metrophage; Womack's done it; IanWatson; Michael Moorcock did it more than once. Marc Laidlaw reproduced a sort of Frank Zappa satirical effect in his excellent Dad's Nuke. Truth is, I'm not up to date on the new SF writers; just haven't got time to read the stuff. I read a review of Vurt; I have to feel an identity with the guy because he used to be a rock singer; it sounds as if his book is absurdism and satire as much as science fiction, and he apparently doesn't have control of his writing voice yet -- but then why should SF ever be snobbish about that? ... For me, Nine Inch Nails creates an SF atmosphere that is authentic; the cyberpunk poet, short story writer, and musician, Rob Hardin (he's in Storming the Reality Studio among other places); the band Terminal Power Company consciously goes for a savage mating of SF and rock and often achieves it manfully.

?: What does The Blue Oyster Cult mean to you?

John: Blue Oyster Cult was the paradigm for modern speed metal; they indirectly created Metallica and Pantera. For proof check out their LPs Tyranny and Mutation and On Your Feet or On Your Knees; their lyrics and the otherworldly atmosphere they evoked were a kind of created universe of interplanetary gothic. I've written some lyrics for them in recent years. Mike Moorcock collaborated with them on some outright science fiction themes like Psychic War and in songs about Elric... It's no accident. They are an underappreciated, musically brilliant, band resonant of 19th century classical romanticism... They also were the template for modern goth rock... They're due for a revival.

?: What were your most memorable gigs with early punk bands (Sado Nation, Obsession)?

John: I remember in Seattle I got pissed off because there was confusion about when my band Sado Nation was to play, and I ran onto the stage and put a garbage can over the head of the lead singer of another band while he was vocalizing -- the can probably improved his overall sound -- and afterwards the musicians caught me backstage and 2 of them held my arms while the singer slugged me in the guts. This made me throw up and then I had to go on -- it was a good show... I used to tear my clothes with my fingers, and I was leaping from the stage into the audience before it became fashionable -- and before there was enough audience to catch me! What a brainless baboon I could be and how I enjoyed it! It's a state of "mind". Some people think Iggy Pop is stupid because he can get into this apparently "moronic" state of mind, something like a dog humping your leg, on stage, but in fact he's very intelligent... He simply gets himself into a primeval trance state... Those were my favorite times: when passion, sheer abandon, interlocking fixation on the music, got me into an altered state -- with no drugs necessary... Actually one part of your mind is definitely there in control... It's controlling the uncontrolled...

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