Your Wires Are Showing

“The future is already here — It’s just not evenly distributed.” – William Gibson

It was so much easier to write cyberpunk fiction in the days before laptops, iphones, and bluetooth. Or maybe easy isn’t quite the right word, since the authors of the 80’s & 90’s were making up the technology as they went, imagining it freshly in their minds as they forged the motherboard of a genre that was just as much about style as it was substance.

High Tech Low Life

It was glorious. I cannot say enough about how shaped I have been by the works of William Gibson, specifically Neuromancer, the Shadowrun and Netrunner pen & paper role playing games, the anime Ghost in the Shell, and of course our man Philip K. Dick with stories and resulting film adaptations like Minority Report and Blade Runner. I love the movie Johnny Mnemonic, and no gushing about cybepunk from decades past would be complete without mention of The Matrix.

To write cyberpunk now, in the year 2017, is a different endeavor. So much of the technological advancements that get imagined in the above works are now commonplace. The sorts of “oh wow” moments that used to hit hard in cyberpunk works just don’t hit quite the way they used to, at least for most of us. I know there are still some basic cable shows that try to present hacking as people typing Really Fast and Looking Stressed at cascading lines of gibberish while they say “someone is hacking our network”, and while that isn’t remotely what real hacking looks like (and no amount of fast edits and soundtrack could make it exciting to watch), those shows and their presentation illustrate the line we creators have to walk between real life and dynamic fiction.

For “Beautiful Resistance” we did our best to imagine a near future that moved along a similar path of technological advancement as we are now. We created our fictional “CodeSource” to be the more conventional ‘system’ that is what we basic users experience today, even if amped up for dramatic purposes, so that it would ring true to a contemporary audience. We created our fictional “MassNet” as our ‘full immersion’ system, the computer dream world of our story, which functions much like the simulations in The Matrix films, or the Neuromancer and Snowcrash novels. Throughout the story we work to present an engaging story with near-future technology that feels legitimate given where we are, as a contemporary society, today. We knew that we had to give you just enough tech-speak to make sense of everything happening, but we did not go so deep into it that A) readers poke holes in our science and B) the story doesn’t get slowed down. Though the hacker parts of the story were the most difficult, there was also the ‘combat operative’ element, where we had to present cyborg warriors who had upgrades and implants that felt realistic enough for a near future setting, but were still exciting to read about.

We also had to look at implications of near future technologies, and what they might do to the political, environmental, and economic landscape. For this we imagined a post-WWIII world, where the great superpowers finally went for blood, and our story picks up some years later. In our imagined near future corporations have taken the place of most world superpower governments (that’s a theme with me I know) and the inequality of the world has become more dramatically pronounced. In our story the mega-cities of the first world country are the neon spectacles one might see in films like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, while much of the rest of the world has experienced very little growth compared to where they are in our contemporary real world. Much of the setting, in fact the story itself, is based on the above William Gibson quote. While we don’t get preachy at all (we’re writers, not politicians, economists, or activists) we do address some of the unavoidable elements of setting a story about high powered agents pursuing first world agendas in the boardrooms and back alleys of what we call in our story ‘low grade regions’. In this way we were invited to present a rather poignant illustration of High Tech Low Life in a way that may conjure up images of Neil Blomkamp’s work from films such as Chappie, Elysium, and District 9.

As for the street shaman and the jungle island vampires, well, that’s another post all together.

This has been a project that I have wanted to create for some time, and am happy to finally be able to present it. Our goals are to give you a reading experience that feels less like science fantasy and more like science future, while still delivering on the style & substance promised by dubbing it a work of cyberpunk.

Naturally it is for you to decide if we accomplished any of this, and we are excited to get your feedback!

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Cyberpunk Noir

I am presently in the far depths of co-authoring a noir cyberpunk trilogy, very much in the vein of Shadowrun, and found myself rather enjoying writing pieces of a sword fight scene between two augmented operatives, though one is significantly less human than the other. This is an unedited section of that scene, which I particularly enjoyed creating.
 
“The samurai swung in a wide arc that would have sliced into her side had she missed the parry, and Laine realized that while the man had been augmented for strength and resiliency, perhaps even had parts of his brain adjusted for loyalty, there was little he could do against her so long as he thought too hard about it. Any fool could swing a sword, and anyone could become a master of the blade with enough training or upgrades, yet it was only with no-mind that one could hope to win with consistency. The woman allowed her augmentations to feed her data and silenced her conscious mind, allowing her ego and her assumptions about the outcome to dissolve into the datastream from her augments. The cyberware rode Laine into battle, her ego given over to the machine’s lighting fast calculations.
 
Perhaps had the Samurai too achieved a similar state, free of his conscious mind, perhaps he could have beaten her. To act without thinking, to be as pure as the kata, was the only way to even have a hope in beating the machine. Laine sidestepped another swipe of the samurai’s blade and drove her own into his throat, through the windpipe and the spine in one stroke. The samurai’s body sounded hollow as it hit the ground, sword clanking against the pavement, all of it recorded by Laine’s auditory enhancements. They always sounded hollow to her ears, the bodies as they died, no matter how augmented or not they might be, and often she would listen to their final moments over and over, as if hoping to divine the exact moment life left limb and spark died in the wire.”

Rootless

What a journey its been. I haven’t been on my blog in awhile, so there are a goodly number of updates to be had. 

I have been in Buffalo for 2 months working as a director, producer, writer, and actor on the film “Binary Samurai” with Aaron Kondziela, Alex McBryde, and Katy Saul. A post-apocalypse cyberpunk film about wasteland warriors, hackers, and a ghost in the machine. It was hot, muggy, and pretty darn uncomfortable in my character’s huge fur coat, but we survived. There should be  a trailer and promo photos up soon. 

After wrapping, in fact the day after wrapping, we got on the road and went to Toronto for the Festival of Fear. It was a brutal show, with no money, very little sleep, and a ton of pressure to make sales. We only pulled in about $1,200, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t a bad haul, but as we’d dropped nearly $3,000 on the show, it was tough at the time. We smuggled about 500 units back across the border, and left the rest with the always amazing Melantha Blackthorne, who is keeping the rest at her place and using them as inventory for sales generated by her own website. The unit recovery made the show much less of a blow to our finances, as we’ve still got the units (paid $1,500 for them) and the show only cost $1,500, so with our sales of $1,200 we didn’t lose too much. Plus it was lots of exposure, and sales are trickling in from all the cards and promotion we did. 

After Toronto we had one last night in Buffalo, then I was on a plane to Atlanta. While there I was able to reconnect with an old friend I hadn’t seen since college, and though I had some business planned that all fell through, so it became an unexpected and amazing week of forced vacation in a kickass city with the best of company. Not long after I hit the road again to St. Louis. 

St. Louis was a blast. We had another show, the StrowlerFest, put on by the musician SJ Tucker, which was 3 days of pagan music and being surrounded by interesting people. I had a vendor table for Dark Roast Releasing, though only ended up selling maybe 10 copies of Fable. Kay Wiley and SJ Tucker are really helping me work to establish the whole ‘mythpunk’ film genre, using their music and some other authors to help get this going. The show was cheap, so we didn’t lose much, but again, the exposure and connections more than made up for it. I was able to meet and cast Bekah Kelso for the role of Hecate of the Crossroads for my upcoming movie Ember Days (also a mythpunk movie), so its a win. 

Now I’m in Seattle in prep on Ember Days and can’t wait to see what’s next.

What is Mythpunk?

Mythpunk refers to “a subgenre of mythic fiction” in which classical folklore and faerie tales get hyperpoetic postmodern makeovers. Coined by author Catherynne M. Valente, the term describes a brand of speculative fiction which starts in folklore and myth and adds elements of postmodern fantastic techniques: urban fantasy, confessional poetry, non-linear storytelling, linguistic calisthenics, worldbuilding, and academic fantasy.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Mythpunk