Really interesting post from Ian Sales about spaceships, sailboats, GUIs, cyberpunk and contemporary postmodern science fiction. It's short and smart and you should read it.
I'm not sure I 100% get it: what would be an example of contemporary SF which uses space-flight in the disguised way Sales describes? Adam Roberts folding together the hard SF engineering puzzle with the cosy interwar whodunnit in Jack Glass, perhaps. Or China Miéville, in Railsea, writing rail travel as seafaring as space-flight as seafaring. Or the star-crossed avant-garde political writing right this second (see recent poetry by Sophie Robinson, Caitlin Doherty, Luke Roberts, Ian Heames, Fabian Macpherson, and the forthcoming journal Romulan Soup Woman).
UPDATE: In the comments, Sales gives the examples of John Clute's Appleseed and (probably) this by E. Lily Yu. The wasps take to the stars of the river, provisioned with fallen apricots and squash blossoms. Cf. Bernard de Mandeville's "The Grumbling Hive."
PS: Also. "[Cyberpunk writers] took the metaphor that was the GUI and then layered another metaphor, cyberspace, on top of it [...] wrote about the metaphor as if it were the thing itself." As an 80s/90s kid - Saved by the Bell, poststructuralism - obviously I believe a flame plague will consume us both if I let that 'thing itself' fly by without pointing that the daisy-chains of deferral are endless, and that seafaring itself is an intense locus of theological allegory, for instance (shout out Ursula le Guin, Herman Melville, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Beowulf poet, et al.). But that's just a matter of terminology really. Maybe school's out. and I'm really intrigued by the possibility that there are these phases of intensive metaphor-building (cladogenetic rather than anagenetic cultural shifts?) during which cultural producers - or whoever build the metaphors - have an enhanced duty to attend to the metaphoricity of whatever's already there. Because if they aren't careful and insightful, they may create ways of thinking and feeling which are only desirable in the context of the very ways of thinking and feeling they're make obsolete. Like, "Whaat, I'm out of memory for the new iTunes update, I know, I'll just delete all my tunes." Whether that's what happened with cyberpunk, IDK.