Virtual Futures explores the ideas that the future lies in its ability to articulate the consequences of an increasingly synthetic and virtual world. New technologies like cyberspace, the internet, and Chaos theory are often discussed in the context of technology and its potential to liberate or in terms of technophobia. This collection examines both these ideas while also charting a new and controversial route through contemporary discourses on technology; a path that discusses the material evolution and the erotic relation between humans and machines.
Virtual Futures brings together diverse fields such as cyberfeminism, materialist philosophy, postmodern fiction, computing culture and performance art, with essays by Sadie Plant, Stelarc and Manuel de Landa (to name a few). The collection heralds the death of humanism and the ride of posthuman pragmatism. The contested zone of debate throughout these essays is the notion of the posthuman, or the possibility of the cyborg as the free human. Viewed by some writers as a threat to human life and humanism itself, others in the collection describe the posthuman as a critical perspective that anticipates the next step in evolution: the integration or synthesis of humans and machines, organic life and technology.
This view of technology and information is heavily influenced by Anglo American literature, especially cyberpunk, Pynchon and Ballard, as well as the materialist philosophies of Freud, Deleuze, and Haraway, Virtual Futures provides analyses by both established theorists and the most innovative new voices working in conjunction between the arts and contemporary technology.
Joan Broadhurst Dixon is a lecturer in Social and Cultural Theory at the University of Derby. She teaches a course on Post-Human Thought. Eric Cassidy is doing research on the relationship between Deleuze and Pynchon at Warwick University. He co-ordinated the Virual Futures 1994 and 1995 Conferences at Warwick University.