But for those folks who are obsessed with history, here, in tightly encapsulated form, is the story behind the story. The invention of the c-word was a conscious and deliberate act of creation on my part. I wrote the story in the early spring of , and from the very first draft, it was titled "Cyberpunk. My reasons for doing so were purely selfish and market-driven: I wanted to give my story a snappy, one-word title that editors would remember. How did I actually create the word?
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Headcrash is the story of Jack Burroughs, a computer nerd in his mid twenties, who lives with his overbearing mother, and works a dead-end job at a software firm. Along with his friend Gunnar, Jack is hired to hack into a corporate system to retrieve files proving that the company was stolen from the rightful heir of its founder. This novel was awarded the Philip K.
Dick Award. This work is sometimes credited with the first use of the word " Spam " as a term for junk e-mail. Bethke replies that while he appreciates the thought, the term was in common use on usenet long before he used it in Headcrash. The main plot is similar to The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress , though the book itself focuses on a few individual characters and their battles in the war, and not the political and economic ramifications of a battle for independence on the moon.
Bethke summarily dismisses the novel on his website, stating it was how he paid for a new roof for his house. The publisher decided not to release the novel, causing several years of legal battles over the rights to the book. Bethke has a downloadable version of the novel available for five dollars on his website. When asked, during a interview, "Why was your book Cyberpunk never published when you sold it to a publisher in ? The book was never released because the publisher hated the ending and I refused to rewrite it.
What the publisher wanted me to write was a "Frazetta cover" ending; you know, the hero, center stage, with a mighty weapon in his hands, a cowering half-naked babe at his feet, and the blood-smeared corpses of his many enemies piled high all around.
To get to this ending I would have had to end the book with the lead character committing a massacre inside a school—which is what the publisher specifically asked me to write—but even 10 years before Columbine , I found that idea utterly revolting.
So I refused to write it. Perhaps the publisher was right. Perhaps the book would have sold well with a blood-soaked adolescent revenge fantasy ending. Science Fiction Awards Database. Retrieved 27 November Strange Horizons. Strange Horizon. Archived from the original on 25 November