#55 = Volume 18, Part 3 = November 1991
Prigogine, Chaos, and Contemporary Science Fiction
SF often registers and extrapolates the consequences of new scientific
knowledge even before science does. This relationship between science and SF has
become especially intriguing in the case of the new science of deterministic
chaos. This new paradigm—which explains how complex, apparently chaotic
systems leap into new orders of complexity—has implications not only for the
technology of the future, but for our understanding of the cosmic role of
intelligence and of the narratives it spins.
In this essay I briefly sketch the shape of the new paradigm of deterministic
chaos and self-organizing systems as it has been developed by Ilya Prigogine. I
will trace its emergence as a theme in SF, particularly in works by A.A.
Attanasio, Lewis Shiner, Bruce Sterling, and William Gibson. Along the way I
show how Chaos Theory illuminates the potential for narrative, and particularly
SF, as epistemologically potent.
An Overview of Chaos Theory. Prigogine's chaos theory arises from his
success in finding a mathematical model that reconciles three deeply problematic
contradictions or paradoxes in 20th-century scientific cosmology: the different
descriptions of growth in physcial systems given by entropy vs. evolution, the
different roles of time portrayed by microscopic physics vs. macroscopic
biology, and the problem of physics' drive for simplicity in the face of an
obviously complex world portrayed by biology.
Entropy vs. Evolution. Evolution and entropy seem to contradict each
other not only in the cosmological moods they invite us to hold, but in the
irreconcilable versions they present of how the universal machine actually
operates. If Rudolf Clausius and Clerk Maxwell were right, then any machine will
grind to a halt inexorably when left to its own devices. The combination of
ever-present forces—like friction—will degrade mechanical operation as part
wears against part, leaking valuable energy and organization out into the
universal soup where it joins the larger tide towards randomness and absolute
cold. Furthermore, once molecules have vibrated themselves into an effete state
of equilibrium—analogous to hot and cold water mixing into one lukewarm volume—no
natural force can retrieve that leaked heat or lost differentiation. The process
of degradation towards entropy is irreversible: nature will not reheat the water
But if Darwin's version of nature was correct, then somehow the biosphere
drives itself to evolve ever more complex and organized structures, biological
organisms, and systems (autopoeisis). One-celled critters gave rise to
multicellular organisms, which diverged, differentiated, grew more complex, more
organized, and more needy of energy and information to sustain them (phylogenesis).
Even individual organisms rehearse this flagrant disobedience of the Second Law.
Trees begin as unicellular seeds to sprout into cascades of complex interactions
and branching growths, spreading their organized system for the transfer of
matter and energy through the soil and sky (ontogenesis). The biosphere
and each part of the biosphere individually are islands in the entropic stream,
or better, a raft swimming autonomously, inexplicably upstream, gathering
flotsam and organizing it into its flotilla, against the intractable laws
of physics. Finally, the biosphere has evolved intelligence.
In the postmodern era, Darwin's views have been supplemented by new sciences
of information, which have given us cybernetic technologies. These give
intelligence the capacity to artificially nurture its own evolution (anagenesis),
especially through cyborg technologies—artificial intelligence,
neurophysiology, cognitive science, and genetic manipulation—in a complex
feedback loop. In short, we know how to make ourselves—as individuals and as
species—smarter. Knowledge of the laws which govern autopoetic
evolution—the new science of chaos—will aid intelligence in its anagenetic
project. We will encounter these terms—autopoeisis, phylogenesis,
ontogenesis, anagenesis—again when they emerge as explicit themes in Bruce
Microscopic vs. Macroscopic. For Prigogine the central problem in
scientific cosmology is one of reconciling the two contradictory descriptions of
how nature is organized from the microscopic view and the macroscopic view; that
is, contradictions between two levels of description. Well into this
century, many physicists still viewed the microcosm as an idealized space where
simple particles interact in well-behaved ways according to the laws of
dynamics. Even while the discoveries of quantum physics and the proliferation of
sub-atomic particles throughout our century challenged the classical view of
dynamics as deterministic and predictable, many physicists still clung to a view
of interactions as essentially reversible, much as Newton did. In the Newtonian
view, interactions between moving bodies are time-neutral: they could go forward
or backward equally. According to classical dynamics, large particles split into
smaller particles and under the proper circumstances those smaller particles
should re-unite into larger ones. As Prigogine notes in his exposition of his
theories (in From Being to Becoming: Time and Complexity in the Physical
Sciences), classical mechanics assumes that strict determinism and
reversibility hold throughout, while probabilism and irreversibility are
forbidden; consciously adopting the terminology of existential phenomenology,
Prigogine calls this "naive realism" and files it under the header of "the
science of being" (20).
The macroscopic world, by contrast, seems decidedly unruly and intractable to
a classical dynamicist.
First, macroscopic interactions are more vulnerable to entropy. Objects move
at slower speeds and in massive arrays that put them into contact with other
things, creating frictions which make their trajectories less than ideal.
Second, entropy is irreversible: it moves things along in one direction only.
Once you're on the entropic road, you can't go home again. Clearly, all
biological entities carry in them what Prigogine calls "the arrow of time."
The heart ticks toward the moment it will eventually stop. We grow old and die.
Interactions follow trajectories that are rarely simple, and when they are,
Third, the macrocosm is complex. The problem of two bodies interacting in
pure Euclidean space follows strict Newtonian laws. But the problem of solving
the trajectories of three bodies interacting becomes extraordinarily difficult,
and of four strictly impossible. Yet our world is constituted by large numbers
of bodies and forces interacting all at once.
Finally, conditions evolve and do so through feedback processes: a system can
alter itself as it grows and grows. While individual phenomena remain relatively
coherent (my son remains recognizably himself, even though he changes minute to
minute, year to year), they are also dynamic, grow in sudden spurts, alter the
environment which alters them. The macroscopic world is always in process. Any
study of this world, Prigogine asserts, requires a science of becoming.
Far from being a mere problem of mechanics, this poses a set of philosophical
problems as well: for instance, how can we reconcile the idealized version of
the human mind (which investigates nature only through reasoning based on
classical dynamical assumptions about logic, conservation, and reversibility)
with the biological basis for that mind (which carries with it the "arrow of
time" and, as we have seen, an implicitly metaphorical style of functioning)?
We need not even introduce mind freighted with its humanistic baggage in
order to see the problem. We can view mind, as many physicists do, free from its
cultural trappings and symbolic associations as a perceptual instrument of
knowing, an elaborate measuring/observing device.1
Quantum mechanics was introduced as an attempt to reconcile certain odd
behaviors of sub-atomic particles like the electron with classical logic. But in
fact, in Prigogine's construction of the history of physics in this century,
quantum mechanics introduced an even odder fundamental challenge to science's
reign: How do you measure sub-atomic events which supposedly obey laws of
classical dynamics (and are thus free from time's arrow) with macroscopic
interventions that are subject to irreversible processes? All the puzzles of
modern physics, which have in turn spawned many competing metaphysical
explanations (Herbert 240-45), stem from this irreconcilable and paradoxical
relationship that arises at the interface between the microscopic and
macroscopic realms (From Being to Becoming 48). Prigogine's work
elucidates formulas that describe how systems organize themselves, whether they
are microscopic or macroscopic. By giving weight to complexity, his theory
reconciles this conflict between the two realms.
Simplicity vs. Complexity. Western science has always had a strong
compulsion to proceed from large assumptions to finite conclusions which
subsequently are granted the force of law.
Yet this compulsion to induce simplicity stands in direct contrast with the
evidence of how reality proceeds in the macroscopic world. Newton's universe is
a simple and tidy place, a comforting but imaginary realm which idealizes
relationships between matter and energy and makes the laws of nature seem
tractable and predictable.
In contrast, most phenomena in the world around us, our senses tell us, are
extremely complicated, seething with multiplying forms and interactions, edges,
microstructures within macrostructures. Reality is bumpy, grainy, noisy,
unpredictable. Furthermore, we have trouble describing this reality in the
strictly simple and and logical way scientific discourse demands. Gordon Pask,
the cyberneticist, after reading similar remarks by Henri Poincaré, Ernst Mach,
and Pierre Duhem, formulated it in the following fashion: "All empirical
phenomena are underdetermined by data and therefore permit the construction of
an indefinite number of theories" (36). It would be nice to reduce everything
to a few simple universal rules, just as our eyes habitually abstract a simple
pure line from the chaotic tangle of color and edges and motion around us or as
our mind abstracts a pattern of events, a plot, out of a welter of events, but
these are idealizations as well as compulsions. Undoubtedly, we couldn't
function without the ability to abstract, to formulate heuristics, to leap to
conclusions, to induce hypotheses and predictions, to devise schemas, to tell
ourselves unifying stories. But to design an entire epistemology on this habit
of simplifying and unifying—to insist that nature must be fundamentally simple—brings
us into conflict with the obvious nature of things around us.
Prigogine's Reconciliation: Dissipative Structures. These quite apparent
contradictions between Entropy and Evolution, between the two versions of time
in the microscopic and macroscopic levels, and between the impulses to
simplicity and complexity in science's descriptions—these contradictions
offered no clear resolutions. Then in the 1960s and '70s, Belgian
thermodynamicist Ilya Prigogine developed a mathematical model that would
explain, under very specialized circumstances, how order could arise
spontaneously from apparent chaos. In his model—called dissipative
structures—Prigogine described mathematically how an open system under
certain physical conditions (far from equilibrium and fluctuating non-linearly:
that is, highly unstable and unpredictable in its changes) will spontaneously
organize itself at a higher level of complexity, leaping across a statistical
bifurcation from apparent chaos into order. He calls these systems "dissipative
structures" because they survive in an open exchange of energy with the
generally entropic universe in order to dissipate or work off the products of
their instabilities. While dissipative structures are bound to take this leap
into self-organization (the description of these systems and their changes is deterministic),
no one can tell what shape that change will take after the leap (it is unpredictable).
Prigogine's work was quickly recognized as having profound consequences for
the way we view the cosmos, and in 1977 he received the Nobel Prize for
chemistry. Prigogine's achievement was to reconcile the impulse to simplicity
(which leads us down the road to what he calls "naive realism in physics")
with the seething complexity and dynamic instability of the world presented to
our senses (partly described by non-linear mathematics but more completely
reflected in literary descriptions). His model proves how order can arise out of
chaos and how that order in turn presents a world of ever-growing complexity and
change to our human (macroscopic) senses. He proved that while the universe may
move towards entropy, open systems of order arise spontaneously and not only
resist entropy but grow ever more structured.
The Consequences for Literature. In Order Out of Chaos, a
popularization of his ideas, Prigogine and co-author Isabelle Stengers explain
that discourses which capture or recapitulate the complexity and time-bound
qualities of our experience in the macroscopic world are in many senses more
epistemologically potent—do a better job of describing reality—than the
simple discourses of classical physics. Indeed, one of Prigogine's original
inspirations came from the work of Henri Bergson, the French philosopher who in
his turn had drawn on deep literary resources. Bergson first noted the obvious
contradiction between the reality implied by the Second Law of Thermodynamics
and the reality of our human experience of a world growing ever more complex.
Consequently, Prigogine's work directly suggests that science requires a
discourse more complex that simplifying formalisms; the naive realism to which
the mere logic of classical scientific discourse is confined no longer serves.
Prigogine suggests that "the simplicity of...physics and chemistry was due to
the fact that attention was paid mainly to some very simplified situations, to
heaps of bricks in contrast with the cathedral...." (11). Literature, in
contrast, has access to tools that reflect how the cathredral actually
grows and looks and feels.
Priogine's intention is not necessarily to privilege literature, but to move
scientific understanding into the same realm to which literature has long held
the bragging rights. Order Out of Chaos was originally published in
France as La Nouvelle Alliance. In their English version the authors
state that the intent of their French title was to show that Prigogine's
theories, by erasing the scientific assumptions which were the source of
irreconcilable differences, point to a resolution of the two-cultures problem.2
Prigogine's theory reconciles the austerity and time-idealizations of Newtonian
mechanics with the indeterminacy and chaotic growth of the macroscopic world. It
also puts science back in the realm of human language and the frame of human
time, which abide by macroscopic (social or biological), not microscopic
(mechanical) rules. "The natural sciences have thus rid themselves of a
conception of objective reality that implied that novelty and diversity had to
be denied in the name of immutable universal laws" (306).
In return, literature, unburdened by the prime directives of simplicity,
transparency, and absolute authority, can now lay some claim to do a better job
of describing some kinds of reality. Literature in its hyper-evolved discourse
can capture and describe the time-bound, fluctuant, unstable growth of organic
life and of human activity in the macroscopia. As Prigogine and Stengers note,
creativity "breaks the temporal symmetry of the object" so that out of "the
noise in which we live arises music" (311).3 In short, the new
science of chaos demonstrates that narrative discourse has epistemological
A group of SF authors have responded to this new empowerment of the narrative
form with postmodern SF that uses Prigogine's theories not only as an explicit
theme and subject, but also as empowerments of a more complex, dynamic discourse
that raises the standards of SF as an art form— and our appreciation of its
The Line of Influence. Though Prigogine won the Nobel Prize in 1977, his
own work wasn't published in English in any popular form until the translation
of Order Out of Chaos from the French in 1987. James Gleick published his
best-selling popularization of a parallel strain of chaos, Chaos: The Making
of a New Science, in 1986. Although Prigogine's work is never mentioned in
the text of this book, the territory explored by Gleick is virtually the same as
that explored by Prigogine, so much so that one could safely say that the same
"facts" are being explained by the two books. They are reconstituted, however,
from the perspective of different versions of science's role, so that the two
explanations come to strikingly different conclusions and portray very different
Therefore it is a tribute to the general intuition of SF, and in particular
to the long-distance imaginative radar shown by A.A. Attanasio, that in his
extravagant and lavishly-imagined tour de force, Radix, Prigogine's
theories make a crucial, if cameo, appearance. Attanasio must have seized very
quickly upon Prigogine's work soon after it appeared in the American press in
order to have abstracted some of its essential implications, although they
appear only in trace form, in a novel that was published as early as 1981.
Briefly put, Radix is a fantastic Bildungsroman that eventuates
in the apotheosis of Sumner Kagan, a human of the 33rd century. Sumner's story
begins with his depiction as a fat, bored, late adolescent who gets cheap
thrills from playing tricks on gangs of punks and eluding the police. Eventually
he is caught, sent off-planet as a slave, and selected for training by a warrior
race that recognizes his genetic superiority. He undergoes a transformation into
a hard, muscular, clearly superior being who now is approaching his destiny. He
is stalked by a cyborg that has been programmed to kill him, for reasons that
remain mysterious. As the novel nears its climax, it is clear that Sumner is the
repository or avatar or puppet of "the Delph," a god-mind from another world
who is controlling his destiny. It is also clear that his nemesis is Rubeus, an
artifical super-intelligence originally created by the Delph to monitor the
weather. Now, as the Delph grows old and (according to Rubeus) senile, Rubeus
has visions of power that are literally driving him crazy. Able to incarnate
himself in different forms, called "orts," Rubeus is tightening the circle
around Sumner, who can eavesdrop, through dreams, on the supercomputer's
thoughts [represented in brackets in the original text]:
Rubeus was mad....The voice inside his head glowed with Voice: [Only
dissipation creates.] The insides of a thousand orts around Reynii radiated
with the same psynergistic presence. Tree lizards, wolf, panther, cats,
birds, bristled in a wakefulness more than their own. The placeless darkness
behind their eyes turned on itself relentlessly: [Al wil passe].
....Rubeus was strongest in this ort, and he leaned his dark ogival face
into the warmth of the sunlight with a deep gratification. He was indeed mad
[Dissipative], and that joyed him so thoroughly an oblique smile creased his
cheeks. [Madness is the supreme strategy.] To free himself from the Delph's
programming—to be free—Rubeus had to break out of his mind. His mental
fluctuations generated a Prigogine effect: they increased the number of
interactions among his psychic systems and brought them into contact with
each other in new and sometimes creative ways. Given enough time, Rubeus
thought that his insanity would create a higher-order equilibrium: a new
Mind, bigger and more aware— capable of outhinking Creation. [Life is a
pattern.] He thought that. (372)
Attanasio's intuition here concerns the play between determinism and the
freedom and unpredictability of organic growth in complex, unstable systems.
Prigogine's theory suggests that far-from-equilibrium systems that fluctuate
non-linearly can "leap" across statistical bifurcations into new orders of
complexity by themselves. Attanasio, in his depiction of Rubeus as mad, portrays
a machine, a complex deterministic system, that rivals (indeed, surpasses)
organic systems, and now seeks to evolve itself into a higher level of
complexity, a new order of being.
One of the intriguing implications in Attanasio's vision here is that the
difference between artificial and natural is effaced when we view complex
phenomena as dissipative structures.5 It hardly matters that Rubeus
began his "life" as a machine, since he has achieved a level of complexity
that now is capable of evolution on its own. It is hard not to speculate to what
extent current theories of artificial intelligence might be enriched by adopting Prigogine's models based on non-linear mathematics as opposed to strictly formal
models based on classical mechanics and logic.
But beyond that, it seems clear that Attanasio has consciously applied the
consequences of Prigogine's theory to empowering his own work. In the passages
describing Rubeus's discourse in particular, the style becomes fluctuant,
unstable, grammatically complicated and hyperbolic. Attanasio has thus figured
the drama (Rubeus is trying to leap into a higher order of organization by
becoming a god-mind and defeating the Delph) in the syntax. The message is
clear: both Rubeus and Attanasio's prose are dissipative structures, chaos
The UT Connection: Shiner and Sterling. Prigogine's thinking has promoted
highly original, interdisciplinary work in biology, ecology, traffic studies,
astrophysics, thermodynamics, neurology, biophysics, chemistry, particle
physics, and even the social sciences, economics, and management. The Ilya
Prigogine Center for the Study of Statistical Thermodynamics has become a
powerful force on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin (UT), where
colleagues from many disciplines have collaborated on applying the
dissipative-structure model to a wide variety of specific phenomena, such as
population fluctuations of certain species in ponds, traffic flow in urban
Two SF writers closely associated with Austin and UT have obviously come
under the sway of Prigogine's theories and the influence of his vision: Lewis
Shiner and Bruce Sterling. In his fine mixture of social history, political
critique, anthropology, and mystical SF, Deserted Cities of the Heart
(1988), Shiner activates this intimate knowledge of Prigogine's work.
The hero of Deserted Cities is Thomas, a professor of anthropology on
leave from "UT" and attached to an interdisciplinary project in Mexico City
that has been "nationalized." Thomas's project is "the application of Ilya
Prigogine's dissipative structures to the Mayan collapse, circa 900 a.d." His
work involves a lot of computer time, and we get glimpses of the nature of his
project, from which we can infer that he was studying the statistical mechanics
of social fluctuations—based on features like the shifting trends in Mayan
settlement locations leading to the sudden collapse of the Mayan empire (24).
Thomas believes, apparently, that his work on the collapse of Mayan
civilization will help him illuminate the growing contemporary world crisis; and
indeed, the novel is set in a growingly-apocalyptic near-future Mexico where
US-sponsored goverment soldiers and the rebels are equally violent and equally
indifferent to the fate of the disappearing native culture.
Thomas finds himself allied with the revolutionaries and with Lindsay, his
brother's wife, with whom he teams up to find his long-lost brother Eddie.
(Eddie drifted into the jungle in search of the Mayans.) They find Eddie and a
small band of virtually the last living Mayans. The entire group ends up hiding
out among the ruins of an ancient lost temple of the Mayans.
Prigogine's view of evolutionary self-organization provides numerous images
and factual counterpoints throughout the book. At one point, Thomas tries to
explain to Lindsay, who has become his lover, the complexity of his relationship
with his former wife. "When she was with that other guy I was at UT and there
were a lot of women around. Prigogine was there too. He'd won the Nobel in '77
and there was a lot of heat generated just from working with him, even though we
weren't in the same department or anything. And suddenly there were women
interested in me..." (125). Later, as Thomas throws pebbles into a pond, we
watch the construction of a literary image by a chaotician's mind:
The turbulence made them dance, two steps to the right, up for a second,
then spinning off sideways and down. Waterfalls were very big in Chaos
Theory, of which Prigogine's work and Thomas' own work were just a part.
According to classical physics the patterns should be predictable, because
everything that went into them was quantifiable. Volume of water, depth of
steambed, angle of gradient, everything. But the patterns were like living
organisms, influenced by their own history and their reactions to each
other, and they could never be nailed down.
What does this tell us, he thought? (146-47)
The unanswered question is left hanging as he is interrupted by the discovery
of the body of a soldier. But the rest of the book is in some senses an answer
to that question, an answer that is decidedly postmodern in its radical
Since chaotic systems are deterministic but unpredictable, they virtually
demand that the observer adopt a postmodern posture. Readers of postmodernism
will recognize this posture—that the world appears bound by laws of nature but
the results are unruly and unpredictable. The novels and stories of Thomas
Pynchon, Philip K. Dick, John Barth, and Italo Calvino are virtually founded on
the principle: the system invites you to attempt to map it by holding out the
promise of determinism but then through the force of a law of nature, it
denies you any answers. Until now we haven't had a scientific language to
describe what postmodern fiction seemed to understand implicitly: Nature's the
ultimate tease; you never know which way it's going to leap across the
The ripples-in-the-pond episode is the epistemological and thematic turning
point in Shiner's novel. From this moment forward, Thomas finds all his
remaining certitudes stripped away. For instance, he quickly loses faith in the
"brujo" Ch'an Maxx, who is the guide through the time trip Eddie takes and the
sociological/intellectual trip Thomas takes. A few pages later, Thomas finds
himself totally disoriented: "everything that had happened in the last two
weeks—all seemed to line up, like an arrow pointing at something he couldn't
quite make out. Each new twist had pumped him higher, and now he was nearly
Similarly, Eddie gets drawn deeper and more radically into his dream-time
encounters with the lost Mayan culture. He does so in a pattern of ever-more
unstable loops through his tripping time-dislocation, a sort of positive
feedback: "each new twist had pumped him higher," which is typical of
dissipative structures. (Later in this essay, we will encounter this aspect of
Chaos Theory, known technically as "period-doubling routes to chaos," in a
remark by one of the heroes of the Gibson-Sterling book The Difference Engine:
"Things get twice as bad twice as quickly.")
In parallel fashion, the unstable island of order that Thomas, Eddie,
Lindsay, the rebels, and the aging remnants of the Mayan civilization have
formed atop the Temple mount begins to fall apart: Eddie has sex with Lindsay,
in a sense betraying Thomas, who had begun an affair with her even though she
was Eddie's wife. Resentments of the Americans begin to seethe beneath the
surface among the revolutionaries. The dead soldier Thomas found implies that
the US-led attack on the revolutionary movement has located them and penetrated
the perimeter of their defenses.
The remainder of the novel works out this gyring pattern of destabilization
as the local events in "real" time begin to converge both with the collapse of
the Mayan civilization in 900 AD to which Eddie has been
time-tripping and with the "Great Cycle" of the Mayan calendar, which predicts
"the end of the earth."
Shiner has crafted a fine postmodern SF text, carefully programming a secret
structure within the larger pattern of his plot, challenging the reader to
discover the message behind the tale with tantalizing clues about Prigogine's
theory. Just before things really begin to fall apart, as Thomas is about to eat
the magic mushroom that will transport him back to the Mayan time to rescue his
brother from his immersion in that collapsing civilization, Lindsay is
annoyed with him: "You're just like your brother...all you really want is to
find the secret of life" (228). Thomas's reply challenges the reader: "[What I
am seeking is] like when you're stoned sometimes and everything seems to make
sense. That kind of answer. Seeing the pattern. That's what Prigogine's stuff is
all about. Order out of chaos. Finding the pattern. That's what's important"
Of course, Thomas is wrong, and in his eagerness to appease Lindsay and be
off on his strange journey through time, has grabbed at a convenient excuse. But
he has forgotten the answer he learned by looking at the pebble in the pond:
there is no possible answer, no solution. There is a pattern in the apparent
chaos, but we don't know where it will lead.
In good postmodern fashion, the key to Shiner's challenge is the treasure, or
the treasure is the key, or the answer is the puzzle, pose it as you will: what
the pebbles in the pond tell us is that the more complex the clues in the
system, the less likely you are to be able to predict where it will go.
The Prigogenic Cosmos According to Sterling. Bruce Sterling is a friend
of Lewis Shiner. Together with William Gibson (and others) they became
associated with the cyberpunk movement, appearing together in the Mirrorshades
anthology that Sterling edited in order to consolidate (he might say, put to
rest) the cyberpunk movement in SF. Sterling and Shiner co-authored one story in
the volume, "Mozart in Mirrorshades," also a time-travel fantasy which makes
satiric points about the nature of the contemporary social order.
Sterling's use of Prigogine's (he would say "Prigoginic") theory is
widespread throughout his oeuvre, which includes The Artificial Kid
(1987), Schismatrix (1985), a collection of short stories, Crystal
Express (1989), Islands in the Net (1989), and his collaboration with
William Gibson, The Difference Engine (1991).6 Indeed, even
the titles—Crystal Express, Islands in the Net, Schismatrix—allude to
images of moving, growing lattices of organization that survive in a universal
tide towards entropy and that leap across schisms to new orders of complex
integration. Space will not permit me here to untangle all the many images and
speculations about the future influence of Prigogine's theories that Sterling
offers us throughout his fiction. Instead, I will concentrate on the far-future
world he depicts in Schismatrix (S) and in a long short story in Crystal
Express, "The Cicada Queen" (CQ).
This future world is a complex, many-sided game, including future humans who
have divided themselves into seriously competitive factions. The two major
philosophies are those of the "Mechanists" and the "Shapers." The former
have plotted their own future evolution through the hypertrophic cultivation of
various technologies, including the prosthetic, mechanical, and especially
cybernetic ones. The Shapers rely on molecular biology, biochemistry, and
especially genetic technologies to "shape" themselves and their own futures,
primarily by extending life, sexual potency, and certain biological talents. In
addition, there's an influential alien race of capitalist-like traders, known
only as "the Investors," who have strongly bent human history to their profit.
From back here in their past, we can perceive a certain irony (out of which
Sterling makes some nice satiric hay): the two human factions are twinned,
increasingly posthuman, artificially constructed beings who rely merely
on different arrangements of cyborg techniques for their identities. The Shapers
pride themselves on their eugenically-selected intelligence and despise the
artificial computer implants and enhancements of their Mechanist doppelgangers,
although as one of their spokesmen notes, the Shapers "might properly be
defined as industrial artifacts" (CQ 49). The Mechanists rely on software
implants and direct linking to computers to enhance their faculties, and they
abhor the messy fecundity and (what they view as) the corruption of Shaper life.
The factions have politics that match their technologies.
In this complexly-rendered future history, Sterling is drawn to the galaxial
civilization in its decadence: apocalyptic, dangerously close to achieving the
sort of critical mass or catastrophic fluctuations that will force it to leap to
a new order of complexity, the Posthuman. So the speech of many characters is
littered with references to this yearned-for future, and they chide each other
with gibes like "Oh, show a little Posthuman fluidity" (CQ 59).
Through these complexities, it is clear that Sterling has invented a future
history and world that is almost entirely propped up on Prigogine's theories of
evolution applied to progress in social, biological, and technical organization.
The Prigoginic view is this culture's reigning paradigm, a cosmology that the
characters in these future worlds take for granted much as we do our Darwinian
one. In Sterling's view, Prigogine is "the ancient terran philosopher" of the "posthuman" (CQ 50). This
"Prigoginic" world-view has so suffused the
culture that it is taught in schools much as evolution or atomic theory is
today. Indeed, it is a young student who summarizes succinctly Sterling's
[Gomez] pulled a notebook from inside his willow-printed coat. He read
loudly, desperately. 'A dissipative self-organizing system evolves along a
coherent sequence of space-time structures. We may distinguish between four differnt dimensional frameworks: autopoeisis, ontogeny, phylogeny,
anagenesis.' [See my explanation of these terms above.] 'And this is from my
poetry class!' (S 244)
According to Sterling's projection of Prigogine, the universe evolves along
one scale or Prigoginic level until it reaches its "event horizon" within that
level. Then the system moves toward a catastrophe or statistical bifurcation
familiar to chaoticians, often accreted around a single node or "catalyst"
(which readers of the Gleick brand of chaos will recognize as a "strange
attractor"). At crisis, the system prepares itself to take "the Prigoginic
leap" (CQ 50) into a new order of being, one discontinuous—and in some senses
incommunicado—with the previous one. As one character explains it, "Every
level of complexity floats freely from the last" (CQ 60).
So though the four levels of Prigoginic Complexity are after all not so
strange as a picture of evolution, the process by which they arise is
The raw, unstable, elemental, chaotic stuff that preceded space-time is the
first level of Prioginic Complexity.
Out of a crisis in this pre-universe came space and time as we know them, as
well as things, accretions of matter and energy, the planets, galaxies,
elements, etc.: "Space-time, the Second Level of Complexity, expressed its
noumenon in the whine of stars, the rumble of planets, the transcendent crackle
and gush of the uncoiling sun" (CQ 81).
Under certain conditions of far-from-equilibrium, wildly fluctuating
elemental systems bring forth arrangements of matter, energy, and information
that regenerate spontaneously, reproduce, transmit information from one
generation to the next, process: elementary fungi, lichens...life, the Third
The Third Level shudders to give birth to intelligent beings, the Fourth
The Fourth Level yearns to force-evolve itself into the crisis that will
bring on its ascendency to the Fifth Level, the Posthuman. Sterling's hero in "Cicada Queen" can trace the shape of the posthuman in the hyper-evolved
nature of the "Lobsters," humans who have almost completely gone over to the
other side and shucked their humanity like a caul, combining some Shaper
technologies with those of the Mechanists to encase themselves in complete
cyberneticized shells after undergoing biological transformations:
The Lobsters hooked into fluidic computers or sheltered themselves from
solar storms and ring-system electrofluxes.
They never ate. They never drank. Sex involved a clever cyber-stimulation
through cranial plugs. Every five years or so they 'molted' and had their
skins scraped clean of the stinking accumulation of mutated bacteria that scummed them over in the stagnant warmth [of their suits].
They knew no fear....They were self-contained and anarchical. Their
greatest pleasure was to sit along a girder and open their amplified senses
to the depths of space, watching stars past the limits of ultraviolet and
There was nothing evil about them, but they were not human. As distant
and icy as comets, they were creatures of the vacuum, bored with the
outmoded paradigms of blood and bone. I saw within them the first stirrings
of the Fifth Prigoginic Leap...as far beyond intelligence as intelligence is
from amoebic life or life from inert matter. (77)
I find this description of one of humanity's possible futures compelling, not
so much because it is attractive (which it is in some zoned-out fashion) but
because it seems plausible.
By now it should seem clear that Prigogine's theories of self-organization
out of chaos and the cybernetic project to grow artificial-intelligence devices
are intimately connected at some level I haven't completely elucidated.
Attanasio's Rubeus and Sterling's cyborged Lobsters are products of autopoetic anagenesis:
intelligence bootstraps through some crisis into a new level of complexity, a
higher level of organization. And this is accomplished through a combination of
cybernetic ("Mechanist") and genetic ("Shaper") tech.
In The Difference Engine, Sterling and Gibson perform the historical
legwork and the intellectual/imaginative labor required to get to the root of
this intimate connection between Chaos Theory and technologies of the mind.
The Difference Engine: Sterling and Gibson. In 1812 the cranky
inventor Charles Babbage, while laboring over a particularly intractable
calculation, exploded: "By God—I wish these calculations had been executed by
steam" (Ritchie 60).
According to some accounts, in that moment Babbage conceived his idea for the
"difference engine," a machine that would perform calculations as complex as
logarithms—a scenario much more in keeping with the romantic rhetoric of the
day, where halluciations, drugs, and dreams, not your collaborators, were the
norm for sources of insight. And looking back, it does have the strange and
gleaming appeal of an hallucination. Powered by steam, it would have been an
analytical engine or "mill," and a "store" where certain routine operations
for manipulating calculations would be kept and to which answers would be sent.
It would use technology already available: the system of punch-cards Joseph
Jacquard used to reproduce complex patterns in his looms, brass and wrought-iron
fittings, the steam-powered engine ultimately powered by coal. In short, it was
a perfect and influential precursor of the modern computer.
Imagine now that Babbage, instead of foiling his own project at every turn
with arguments, fitful starts, grandiosity, and nervous breakdowns, succeeded in
building his engine circa 1829, two years after the Royal Society and the
British government renewed his grant for research.
That essentially is the premise of The Difference Engine, a brilliant
collaboration between William Gibson (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa
Overdrive) and Bruce Sterling, authors with luxurious and robust
Together, these progenitors of cyberpunk project the state of English culture
two or three decades after Babbage's success, roughly about the time it took for
our computer revolution to completely alter the shape of our contemporary
history and thought. They've outfitted the period with the rigorously
remembered/resurrected argot of 1855 and an intensely imagined
"verisimilitude" (the word is laden with irony) of the now-transformed streets
of London. They've also redrawn the map of the world based upon the power
delivered into the hands of the British Empire. Difference engines guide the
artillery bristling from every English warship. Amazing new powers of
information gathering and thus strategic planning and statistical prediction are
controlled by British empire builders and politicos. As a result, Britain keeps
the New World, especially the territories that would have been the United States
in fractious infancy, torn apart by the interests of Mexicans, native Americans,
French colonists, abolitionists, and slavers.
The story is a convoluted thriller, filled with the sort of plotted and
conceptual twists that could only have been executed in a postmodern era.
Indeed, these narrative devices secretly become the point, as I will show.
It's 1855. Babbage's own daughter, Lady Ada Babbage, a mathematical prodigy,
has developed a viral, recursive computer program that is so powerfully
paradoxical that it effectively sabotages any difference engine which tries to
run it. This is another Gibson-Sterling insider's joke: Ada's program is what
20th-century members of our own parallel reality might recognize as Kurt
Gödel's mathematical proof of his Incompleteness Theorem (a fact we discover
only in the epigraph to the novel). It also slyly fulfills William Burroughs's
dictum for any intellectual guerrilla-neo-Luddite-anarchist-pomo-cyberpunker-hacker
who wishes to sabotage the Ellul-technique of Culture: program the machine with
the simple positive feedback message, Dismantle Thyself. Lady Ada,
however, in a stroke of brilliant characterization, is also a gambling addict.
No doubt her neurosis is coeval with her mathematical genius. As in most
compulsive neuroses which come from rehearsing the drama of some unacceptably
paradoxical trauma over and over as if repeating the script will make it right,
Lady Ada's gambling brings her smack up against the profound randomness of the
universe. As Gibson and Sterling know, it was this very concept—that the
universe is best represented in the throw of the dice—that made Einstein so
snappish about Heisenberg's Uncertainty theorem.
Lady Ada's peccadilloes in gambling and other vices lead her secret program,
incarnated in a box of plastic punch cards, to become the object of neo-Luddite
anarchist criminals. This same band almost succeeds in seizing London during an
apocalyptic collapse of the local environment, a foul atmospheric inversion at
the height of summer that is made lethal by the technology Gibson and Sterling
have unleashed on 19th-century London. But the box of program cards carried by
Lady Ada at a racetrack falls into the hands of Edward Mallory, apparently quite
by accident (was it chaotically random or part of a hidden plot?). Mallory is
the discoverer of the fossil of the Land Leviathan in the wilds of America and
the hero of the Royal Society. Lady Ada, the secret program, and eventually
London itself are saved from the neo-Luddites by this strong-jawed athletic
paleontologist-Darwinian-catastrophist (Victorian scholars take note), a hybrid
of Sherlock Holmes, if you can imagine Holmes having imbibed more Ilya Prigogine
than a seven percent solution, and Flashman, George Macdonald Frazer's Victorian
Through Mallory's point of view, The Difference Engine synthesizes
Chaos Theory and cybernetics. As Mallory wanders the streets of increasingly
cataclysmic London, he echoes (or presciently anticipates) familiar principles
from the chaotician's lexicon: the drunkard's walk, strange attractors,
Prigogine's version of dissipative structures, and period-doubling routes to
chaos: "London is a complex system out of equilibrium. It's like—it's like a
drunken man, blind drunk, in a room with whiskey bottles....Things will get
twice as bad twice as rapidly" (223)
Later, we overhear Mallory considering evolution itself—aided by
catastrophe—leaping across the bifurcation. The prose here describes a
complexity that, I believe, derives from Sterling and Gibson's conscious answer
to Prigogine's call for a new order of discourse:
By the twilight blur of the fully-risen sun, he reckoned it near eight
o'clock. Dawn had come, yet brought no day. The Land Leviathans had seen
this very sky, he knew, after the earth-shaking shock of the Great Comet.
For the scaly herds, ceaselessly progressing through the teeming jungles,
driven always by a mighty hunger in their great fermenting bellies, this had
been the sky of Armageddon. Storms of Cataclysm lashed the Cretaceous earth,
vast fires raged, and cometary grit sifted through the roiling atmosphere,
to blight and kill the wilting foliage, till the mighty Dinosauria, adapted
to a world now shattered, fell in massed extinction, and the leaping
machineries of Evolution were loosed in chaos, to re-populate the stricken
Earth with strange new orders of being. (237-38).
The Butterfly Effect and Postmodern Narrative. Another concept of Chaos
Theory applied in the novels of Attanasio, Shiner, Sterling, and Gibson is the
Butterfly Effect. According to this aspect of Chaos Theory, very small changes
have enormous consequences. A butterfly flapping its wings in Tokyo can cause a
tornado in Toledo.
This principle, however, is so deeply woven into the very nature of fictional
narrative itself that one need not look very far to find it lurking in The
Difference Engine. The very premise of the book is that this one small,
highly plausible change in history—Babbage's success in completing his
difference-engine project in 1829—has system-shattering historical
consequences, and thus belongs to the alternate-history subgenre of SF. What
makes this narrative program so interesting is that such a view of time and
causality is the very stuff of the traditional novel, of the narrative, of the
human point of view, of macroscopic realism. Yet by virtue of the new
paradigmatics of Chaos Theory, this appreciation for human-bound (and one might
say, subject-bound) discourse has now insinuated itself into the belly of
science's grand Weltanschauung. Physics has caught up with Fielding,
Dickens, Austen, Trollope, Flaubert, Tolstoy, and every other novelist for whom
small accidents send the hearts of mortals and their fates wheeling out of their
appointed Newtonian orbits into grand twists of fate and destiny. For instance,
take this passage from Fielding's 1749 novel, Tom Jones (the muff in
question is one which Tom had once covered with kisses, as Sophia had been told
by her maid, so that she considered it, as Tom had been told by the maid, a
token of the love he had not dared to express openly):
Sophia looked this evening with more than usual beauty, and we may
believe that it was no small addition to her charms, in the eye of Mr.
Jones, that she now happened to have on her right arm this very muff.
She was playing one of her father's favourite tunes, and he was leaning
on her chair when the muff fell over her fingers and put her out. This so
disconcerted the squire that he snatched the muff from her, and with a
hearty curse, threw it into the fire. Sophia instantly started up and with
the utmost eagerness, recovered it from the flames.
Though the incident will probably appear of little consequence to many of
our readers, yet trifling as it was, it had so violent an effect on poor
Jones that we thought it our duty to relate it. In reality, there are many
little circumstances too often omitted by injudicious historians from which
the events of the utmost importance arise. The world may indeed be
considered a vast machine, in which the great wheels are originally set in
motion by those which are very minute, and almost imperceptible to any but
the strongest eyes. (§5.5:172-73)
As a result of Sophia's impulsive action in snatching the muff from the fire,
Tom now knows to be true what he had hardly dared to believe from the maid's
gossip: that Sophia returns his love. The poignance and even the plot of the
subsequent events in the novel hinge in very large measure upon the recognition
that flows from this event, for much of what follows chronicles Tom's attempts—often
unsuccessful—to hold, in face of all the temptations he encounters, to his
chivalric code of chastity and thus be worthy of Sophia's love. The world of
Fielding's novel is indeed a "vast machine in which the great wheels are
originally set in motion by those which are very minute, and almost
imperceptible to any but the strongest eyes."
Indeed, without a recognition of the powerful role the Butterfly Effect plays
in human destiny, virtually every great novelist and dramatist, including
Shakespeare, would have been out of business. But before Chaos Theory, such a
view of human experience was alien to science, dismissed as pertinent only to
the realm of accident, coincidence, kismet, and messy human affairs. Though
Newtonian time and causality were strictly idealized (symmetrical, formal,
operating best at the microscopic level where non-linear effects like friction
might be discounted), the paradigm was—and still is—mistaken for "common
sense," while the common and sensible events of everyday life and in the
biosphere were and are beyond the ken of classical dynamics. To me, by contrast
with the recognizable sensibility of the world described by chaos, Newton's
world—where reactions could be reversed and all interactions reduced to very
simple laws—seems like a sort of weird SF space, a minimalist abstraction
belonging to some imaginative experiment. Chaos unfolds to our view a nature
that seems to be speaking the same language as great mimetic artists.
In short, maybe the humanist-ritual culture has had it right all along, and
we had merely to suffer through this long aberrant age, Newton's sleep, waiting
for a new ruling paradigm in order to wake up. But so what if Chaos Theory lends
new epistemological heft and credence to the novelist's point of view? Is it
more than a fashionable scientific paradigm?
Sterling and Gibson (and Attanasio before them) seem to think so. They seize
upon chaos as a persuasive view of being-and-becoming itself, one that might
explain how a machine could spring into its own autonomous life in a far-from-equiblibrium
For there is the little hidden jest at the heart of the novel, or rather, in
its first and last pages. There we find evidence that The Difference Engine
is another example of that postmodern genre I've elsewhere dubbed "cybernetic
fiction": it's a story told by an intelligent machine. Thus it joins John Barth's Giles Goat Boy, John McElroy's PLUS, and Umberto Eco's Foucault's
Pendulum, not to mention works by Calvino, Pynchon, Barthelme, Beckett,
Burroughs, Delillo....7 This time it is a narrating computer who (or
which) in 1990, now having been given a century-and-a-half headstart on
evolution, shudders and yearns for its own feedback growth into...what? True
self-actuating intelligence? Transcendence (shades of Gibson's
Wintermute-Neuromancer)? Organic life? In so doing it also seeks the roots of
its own origins, which it discovers in this story of the legacy of Babbage's
success back in 1855.
Or maybe it made the whole thing up—fantasized its own autobiography (cf.
Barth's "Autobiography" in Lost in the Funhouse), thus making the title
its story, its author, and its subject paranomasically congruent: I am the
Engine which creates Differences, thank you.
Call the Turing police, somebody, please.
Let me end with a scholarly note that underscores the intellectual feat and
power of The Difference Engine. Our cybernetics—the cybernetics of
Wiener, Turing, Shannon, Weaver, and von Neumann—was born in reaction to
the devastation of the positivist project by Gödel's Theorem and Heisenberg's
Uncertainty Principle. Wiener, von Neumann, and (to a certain extent) Turing
were attempting to rescue rationality itself from powerful attacks on its
foundations. The goal, and the route to it, was to build a brain on mechanical
principles that could think with strict and formal rationality. Such a brain,
they assumed, would "think" anything that could be thought, thus conquering
the twinned demons of incompleteness and uncertainty. Yet as the AI theorist
Herbert Simon has said, "All systems of reasoning are grand tautologies, but
only God can make use of that fact" (15).
The point is that cybernetics was essentially a technical response to a
philosophical challenge, an incipient—if reactionary—half of what has
emerged as the postmodern dialectic: the battle between humanity and its
mechanical systems of description. Gibson and Sterling have contributed to this
postmodern drama or dialogue by imagining it all backwards. Their cybernetics
is birthed by a machine, which incubates its culture with a nascent postmodern
philosophy—including the paradigm of chaos—to match. Their cybernetics begins
with an overgrown slide rule, a technical innovation, and ends with
Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem. It begins in determinism and predictability and
ends in groping intuitions about feedback loops and autopoetic self-organization
and the anagenetic sentience of machines—in short, in postmodern concerns. In
the end, Sterling and Gibson intimate (in the 1990 of this alternate history),
you need chaos dynamics and the sensibility of Gödel's insufficiency of
formalism in order to grow a fully intelligent brain from mere brass and steam—or
any other mechanics, for that matter.
To take a phrase from Norbert Wiener, The Difference Engine "banishes
to the limbo of badly posed questions the mechanism-vitalism duality" (44). The
novel leaves me with no doubt that the proper models for artificial intelligence
in our time line cannot rely on formal logic alone. The part of our brain that
controls and grows in locked looping with our tools and the part that makes
connections among everything to formulate grandiose world-building
hallucinations of philosophy and fiction and science are at least isomorphisms
of the mysterious and chaotic activity of our complex biological evolution
itself, which relies on chaos. There it is, the human brain, that great
difference engine, frothing and sputtering away like a mass of leaky coaxial
cable drowning in a synaptic bath.
Gibson and Sterling have written a novel told by an artificial intelligence
elucidating a moment in its own past when a small event—Mallory's rescue of
the box containing the engine-destroying program of Lady Ada's Incompleteness
Theorem—enables its own future evolution into an intelligence that can tell
its own story, beyond the strictures of formal logic and mechanism. As a result,
the mechanics of chaos, the narrator of the novel, the novel itself, and its
subject all collide and collaborate to become the same sort of thing: they
are all engines of difference, dissipative structures, generators of complex and
As Prigogine suggests, the two opposed urges (let's call them that for now)—the
urge to write simplified formal descriptions of mechanism vs. the urge to
embrace complex chaos, the urge to map vs. the urge to lie, the urge to build
suggestive machines vs. the urge to ensure they dismantle themselves by trying
to tell complete and consistent stories—are in fact one and the same. As
Gibson and Sterling suggest by looking backwards to look forwards, and as
Attanasio and Shiner imagine, the future obeys a simple law: it's going to get
twice as complex twice as quickly.
1. If we wander down the pathway pointed to by Prigogine's
theories we might define mind as one of the most fertile dissipative structures,
itself a product of the dissipative structuration of biological evolution and in
turn a great progenitor of other dissipative structures, like technology and
literature which extend its power and promulgate information. Indeed, this essay
relies on just such a definition. For an interesting parallel exploration of the
second-order cybernetic view of the evolution of the mind, see Humberto Maturana
& Francisco Varela, The Biological Roots of Human Understanding
(Boston & London, 1987).
2. The primary obstacle was the clinging of physics to the
notion of time as an independent, reversible operator at the microscopic level
and consequently to the tacit position that natural truth flowed from the
microscopic level. By showing the ineluctable connection between microscopic and
macroscopic, Prigogines's theory forces an alliance between philosophy, history,
and language, on the one hand, and time-independent physics on the other.
3. For a longer exploration of Prigogine's theories for the
epistemological potency of narrative, see my essays: "Literature as Dissipative
Structure: Prigogine's Theory and Postmodernism's Roadshow," in Chaos and
Order: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science, ed. N. Katherine Hayles
(Chicago, 1991), 54-84, and "Eudoxical Discourse: A post-modern model for the
relations between science and literature," Modern Language Studies 20.4
(Fall 1990): 40-64.
4. For an exposition of these contrasting versions of chaos
science, see my essay "Making Chaos: Two Views of a New Science," The New
England Review and Breadloaf Quarterly 21.4 (Summer 1990): 427-42.
The only time Prigogine's name occurs in Gleick's book is in
an oblique reference buried in a footnote to one of the last pages of the book.
There Gleick talks about "thoughtful physicists" who have reconsidered the
role of entropy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics in cosmology. The note to
this comment reveals that Gleick is not even thinking about Prigogine directly,
but about P.W. Atkins, whose 1984 book, The Second Law, Gleick greatly
admires for its discussion of "the creative power of dissipation in chaotic
systems." Then, and only then, Gleick also mentions Prigogine in terms that,
were science popularization a cocktail party, would seem like a snub: "A highly
individual, philosophical view of the relationship between thermodynamics and
dynamical systems is Ilya Prigogine's Order out of Chaos: Man's New Dialogue
with Nature" (339). This citation is peculiar on several counts. First,
despite the obvious relation of the title to the concerns of Gleick's book,
there is, in the one-clause gloss of the book, no hint that Prigogine's work
also explores the revolutionary role of non-linear models for explaining how
order arises out of complexity. Furthermore, there's no hint of the impact
Prigogine's work has had on chaos studies in ways that would fulfill even
Gleick's Kuhnian requirements for a revolution.
5. For a more extensive discussion of this implication of
Prigogine's work, see my "Literature as Dissipative Structure," mentioned in
note 3 above.
6. Sterling's earlier Involution Ocean shows a concern
with the complexity of life and with evolution, but it seems to antedate his
involvement with Prigogine and his theories.
7. For an explanation of the genre of postmodern fiction in
which the narrative is spun by an artificial intelligence, see my book The
Soft Machine: Cybernetic Fiction (London, 1985).
Attanasio, A.A. Radix. NY: Bantam, 1985.
Fielding, Henry. Tom Jones. NY: Modern Library, n.d.
Gibson, William, & Bruce Sterling. The Difference
Engine. NY: Bantam, 1991.
Gleick, James. Chaos: The Making of a New Science. NY,
Herbert, Nick. Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics.
Pask, Gordon. "The Meaning of Cybernetics in the Behavioral
Sciences." Progress in Cybernetics, Vol 14. Ed. J. Rose. NY, 1969.
Prigogine, Ilya. From Being to Becoming: Time and
Complexity in the Physical Sciences. San Francisco, 1980.
————— & Isabelle Stengers. Order Out of
Chaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature. NY, 1984.
Ritchie, David. The Binary Brain: Artificial Intelligence
in the Age of Electronics. Boston, 1984.
Shiner, Lewis. Deserted Cities of the Heart. NY:
Simon, Herbert. The Sciences of the Artificial.
Cambridge, MA, 1969.
Sterling, Bruce. "Cicada Queen." Crystal Express. By
Sterling. NY: Ace, 1990.
—————. Schismatrix. NY: Ace, 1986.
Wiener, Norbert. Cybernetics: Control and Communication in
the Animal and the Machine. Cambridge, MA, 1948.