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2010 | 9 | 3(28) | 487-501

Article title

METAPHYSICS OF LABYRINTH IN POLISH CYBERPUNK PROSE (Metafizyka labiryntu w polskiej prozie cyberpunk)


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Cyberpunk as a sub-genre, present in Western science-fiction literature since the 1980s, could develop in Poland ten years later, no sooner than after the political breakthrough of 1989. That was the time of numerous discussions, mainly of religious nature. Since Polish science-fiction literature was at that time also a real mirror to non-literary events, the question of faith heavily influenced the genre at the beginning of the 1990s, encouraging metaphysical themes not only in literature specified as 'cyberpunk'. For a writer, the choice of a literary convention is of a secondary importance and fiction is a parable; its function is to present the author's views and opinions rather than explore the form itself. Therefore, if there was a need to refer to the place of metaphysics in human life, it was fiction on virtual reality that could deliver the opportunity, already included in rules of the convention. Moreover, that fact made it possible for the aforementioned authors to avoid accusation of political commentary and labeling them as representatives of so called 'clerical fiction', a rather derogatory term used at the time. Therefore, individual works demonstrate how the authors use the well-known motifs such as Incarnation, Redemption or Perpetual Punishment, etc. and how to provide with the metaphysical the non-fictional elements like World-Wide Web, a computer game, artificial intelligence. What all the texts have in common is the reference to the myth most basic and automatically connoted to virtual reality - the myth of Labyrinth. By this, not only the popular story from the Greek mythology is meant, but also the ritualistic character of the space of the labyrinth, its order and the activities that must be undertaken by a literary character roaming the maze. This consequently draws attention to terms such as initiating the journey, descent to the Underworld or defeating the Minotaur. The discussed literary works are exemplary for how the cyberpunk convention has been developed by Polish writers. They intentionally use this particular sub-genre to talk about the questions asked by artists or philosophers throughout centuries, which makes the texts up-to-date, independent from readers' current expectations. And although relating to mythology, they appear as highly original, even in comparison with the English representatives of the cyberpunk sub-genre.


  • Bartosz Kruk, c/o Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej w Lublinie, Zaklad Teorii Literatury, pl. M. Curie-Sklodowskiej 4, 20-031 Lublin, Poland


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