Reviewing CW2K: Science and Literature Forum Luncheon

  • Mark Amerika, Internet Artist and editor of alt-x
  • Pat Cadigan, the "Queen of Cyberpunk"
  • Ellen Datlow, former editor for Omni
  • Victor Vitanza, editor of Pre/Text

This forum, which began with two graduate students' laudatory comments about the panelists, was among the most engaging and thought-provoking sessions of the conference. What was most satisfying about it was how quickly the discussion focused the unwieldy broadness of the theme – "Science and Literature" – into a vital examination, by both panelists and audience members, of the significance of thinking through the changing role(s) of the "author" in the Information Age.

Up for specific debate was a concern with the author's "right" to her or his material, especially when writers' work can be so easily made accessible via the Internet. The discussion revolved around two basic positions: one, articulated by Mark Amerika, argued for a reconceptualization (and broadening) of the concepts of "author" and "ownership" of literary works; and the other, defended by Pat Cadigan, stressed the importance of defending copyrighted material to ensure that authors were properly remunerated for their work. A lively discussion between panelists and audience ensued, and it's hard to tell if the various participants reached anything approaching agreement. But in many ways, this forum made very legible a subtext – the issue of the "control" of writing in the digital age – which ran through many of the conference's sessions, speeches, and discussions.

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