A few years ago, my friends and I came up with the label “nixiepunk” for science fiction set in a world where atomic spaceships are navigated using slide rules. Nixiepunk would be analogous to 1930s–50s science fiction as steampunk is to Victorian proto-SF. Whereas classic cyberpunk projected a future, clock-, steam- and nixiepunk reinvent a fetishized past. Choosing the term nixiepunk over “atompunk” emphasizes the other child of the Manhattan Project: computation over raw destructive force. But to live up to the “punk” half of the name, the genre must concern itself with the preterite, with the “Left Behinds of the Great Society.” If Asimov’s The Caves of Steel or the Byron the Bulb excursus in Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow came out today, they’d be nixiepunk.
#nixiepunk is a love letter and a suicide note in mercury delay-line memory
our engineers could build a computer smaller than a room, but would prefer not to
#nixiepunk is the censored chapter of David Kahn’s Codebreakers
you are about to enter a dimension not of sight or of sound but of tungsten and neon
#nixiepunk now controls your television. All four stations.
Japan didn’t conquer the world. MacArthur hasn’t left yet.
#nixiepunk means trading your goggles and mirrorshades for heart-shaped sunglasses
There are canals on Mars. There have always been canals on Mars.
#nixiepunk is finding a buyer for the 3 kilobytes of hot drum storage in your Royal McBee
“I’ve taken care of our little rat problem,” Tom said icily.
#nixiepunk means you can reuse your Mad Men gear at DragonCon. Be grateful, you cheap bastards.
Three electrodes and the truth!!
#nixiepunk will bury you. Face down, 9-edge first.
Of all the ways to revisit the values of Eisenhower’s America, #nixiepunk may be the least frightening.
Johnny looked up from the control panel, his face bathed in the warm, phosphoric glow of the newly installed monitor display’s cathode ray tube. The monitor was a bit of nonsense, of course, something for the pinheads who signed the check to coo over, impressed by how modern the workstations were. But it fed him no information, no data; that’s what the dials, gauges, and indicator lights on the control panel in front of him were for. Right now, they were telling him that something was wrong.