churchill on cyberpunk

Winston Churchill
Paul Kent Alkon, professor emeritus of English and American literature, author of ‘Origins of futuristic fiction’ (1987), and ‘Science fiction before 1900′ (1994), in 1997 has published a wonderful article on Winston Churchill‘s relation to the writing and thought of H. G. Wells, science fiction and dystopia in general. More recently Alkon covered the issue even more in-depth in his chapter ‘Imagining science: Churchill and science fiction’ (2006: 155-176). What struck Bruce Sterling the most is Churchill’s premonition of drone warfare:

Have we reached the end? Has Science turned its last page on them? May there not be methods of using explosive energy incomparably more intense than anything heretofore discovered? Might not a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings—nay to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke? Could not explosives even of the existing type be guided automatically in flying machines by wireless or other rays, without a human pilot, in ceaseless procession on a hostile city, arsenal, camp, or dockyard? (8-9). (Churchill 1929: 221-222 cited in Alkon 1997: 19)

ALKON, PAUL KENT. 1987. Origins of futuristic fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press.
ALKON, PAUL KENT. 1994. Science fiction before 1900: Imagination discovers technology. Boston, New York: Twayne.
ALKON, PAUL KENT. 1997. “Shall we all commit suicide?” Winston Churchill and the scientific imagination. Finest Hour 94: 18-23.
ALKON, PAUL KENT. 2006. Winston Churchill’s imagination. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press.
CHURCHILL, Sir WINSTON. 1929. The world crisis: The aftermath 1918-1928. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
initially via entry at Bruce Sterling’s beyond the beyond