Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
Happy Suckiversary

Rather gobsmackingly, today marks the 20th anniversary of the very first daily column on Suck.com.

It's very hard to describe what Suck was, especially to people who weren't there, but let this suffice: it was where the coal shovelers in the boiler room of the dot-com boom and digital revolution checked in every morning – to make sure we weren't crazy (for doing this), weren't alone (in our bafflement at the hype and idiocy swirling around us), and weren't scowling all day (we invariably got to smile for 20 minutes each morning).

I mean, I checked in with Suck first thing every weekday for years.

An excellent history of Suck and the Sucksters appeared on the ten-year anniversary. It's probably too long for the casual reader – i.e. anyone who didn't read it at the time, was never in the web business, never visited 520 Third Street in San Francisco. But it's a real piece of history.

In his seminal 1999 book Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create & Communicate, Steven Johnson was perhaps the first to point out the way Suck had coopted the hypertext link as intertextual reference – you didn't get the point or joke of a sentence until you moused over the linked phrases.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the irony-drenched column of Suck. Launched anonymously by a pair of Unix hackers in the HotWired basement, Suck is now generally regarded as the ultimate do-it-yourself, self-publishing success story in the Web's short history. The daily column took aim at the Web's relentless march toward the commercial mainstream (this was still news at the time), riffing caustically on the bloated, straining-to-be-visionary pronouncements of the “digital elite” or the inane online brochures of most corporate Web sites. The Sucksters liked to play themselves off as slackers and malcontents, lacing their columns with crack-smoking jokes and references to their being “postliterate.” But the bad-boy posturing couldn't mask the intelligence and inventiveness of the prose, with its elliptical phrasing and penchant for extended metaphors… Despite all the Budweiser jokes, what came to mind reading Suck was the cagey, intricate language of literary theory, the willing evasiveness of someone trying to use language to talk about how language doesn't work.

A while ago I linked to my favorite episodes of Filler, for years the Wednesday treat on Suck, as well as to two of my favorite daily essays. If you read this a while after I write it, I may have gone back and updated those links – to the snapshots preserved in aspic by the Internet Archive.

Because not only did Suck go off the air in 2001 – a shattering occurrence that took me some time to get my head around, and truly seemed like the end of an era. But some time between then and now, the whole kit and caboodle – every essay and cartoon – disappeared from the web entirely.

“Be now for ever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour
    Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower”

Sic transit gloria mundi.


  interwebs     melancholy     suck.com     web dev  
about
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
DON'T SHOOT ME IN THE ASS, AND OTHER STORIES by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
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