Archive for October, 2010

Interview: Jess C. Scott

Jess contacted us with news about her new book, The Other Side of Life which combines Urban Fantasy and Cyberpunk. She offered to do an interview, so we took her up on the offer before she changed her mind. ;) This is her first book in a series, and she’s offering free copies to people willing to do advance reviews. Read to the end if you’re interested.

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The Cyberpunk Soundtrack

And he woke again, thinking he dreamed, to a wide white smile framed with old incisors, Aerol strapping him into a g-web in Babylon Rocker.
And then the long pulse of Zion dub.

~ Neuromancer by William Gibson

What does cyberpunk sound like?

We’ve discussed what it feels like, and what it may look like at times, but the cyberpunk soundscape is transient and varied.

Dub reggae plays a big part in Gibson’s Neuromancer. Music speaks for the book’s Zionite characters, forming the soundtrack of their orbital colonies and even providing Case with audio cues to wake him from brain-death. Music is also acknowledged in the Lo/Rez rock group of Idoru (Gibson) and voice of the refugees, cyber-brain rapper Densetsu (Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2nd GIG), to name but two.

"Densetsu", a cyber-brain rapper and target of the Individual Eleven assassins.

Cyberpunk is usually associated with techno, but this is often down to the influence of cybergoth culture. While there are electronic artists making cyber-friendly tracks like Return of the Machines (Oforia), Red Shift (Ayria) and Elektrobank (Chemical Brothers), do they represent the sum total of a cyberpunk soundtrack?

I wonder if, for example, you associate certain rock tunes with cyberpunk. Reggae seems at first glance to be quite an organic genre, but its echo-effect dub remixes speak to a certain sub-culture in Case’s world, of people who pursue Zionite ideals in face of a depressed Babylon. That in itself suggests the cyberpunk condition; a willingness to escape the ‘meat’ reality and embrace something other. Perhaps you eschew electronic music for jazz when contemplating the ordered chaos of our own ‘matrix’? It may be that there are lyrics which speak to you of a cyberpunk reality, or that techno beats really do transport you to the neon, computerised matrix.

Dystopia in the near future

I stumbled across an interesting article recently, A radical pessimist’s guide to the next 10 years by Douglas Coupland. Perhaps a bit much on the “pessimist” side, but what struck me is how this list mentioned some cyberpunk-like concepts.

Let’s take a look at a few of them.
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For Case, who’d lived for the bodiless exultation of cyberspace, it was the Fall. In the bars he’d frequented as a cowboy hotshot, the elite stance involved a certain relaxed contempt for the flesh. The body was meat. Case fell into the prison of his own flesh.

~ Extract from “Neuromancer” by William Gibson.

Walls, be they physical or metaphorical, are common in all walks of fiction. They enclose whole worlds, trapping hero and villain alike so that they must escape, or else breed conflict. It’s common for a hero to break through these walls and achieve a ‘happy ending’, freeing society and themselves in the process – but not often in cyberpunk. I can’t help but notice some of these boundaries as I take in cyberpunk old and new, and wonder as to their role in the ‘real world’ too.

A Combine tripod strides behind a blockade in "Half-Life 2"'s City 17.

"Move along."

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Journalists often have a prominent place in cyberpunk. A lot of times the story in a cyberpunk setting is told as being a news story. It can be a reminder of how much corporations control everything if the newscast is missing information that the reader/viewer knows, or it can be an affirmation of how an independent can break through the control to report the “real truth”.

So, let’s take a look at journalists in cyberpunk, and how our future is likely to head compared to the previous concept.
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Here’s a guest post by guest writer Scrivener talking about cyberpunk’s place in our current world. He echoes some of the points I’ve written about, how the old concept of cyberpunk has become our reality. He also makes an great call to action in the last paragraph, and I’d also love to hear your thoughts to his question.

We picture cyberpunk in our minds. We picture it in visuals and concepts, aesthetically and emotionally. We’re drawn to a future that is filled with the dystopian rhythm born from a world exploring its unknown, advancing, adolescent self. We’re drawn to the slick style of the (usually) technologically savvy inhabitants, the seamless or invasive fusion of man with machine in all aspects of life, and the bleak concepts and intriguing ideas only a cyberpunked world can provide. We catch glimpses of these elements and concepts ever-creeping upon our modern time, always feeling like a cyberpunk future is just around the corner — “achievable” (as written by Sinnyo).
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