Archive for the ‘ Today ’ Category

Cyberjournalism

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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Interview: Dragonkhan from Dragon*Con

I went to Dragon*Con earlier this month as a speaker and as a fan of many aspects of geekdom. The great thing about the conference is that you can meet people of from every sort of fandom possible. It’s a huge convention in Atlanta, spanning across 5 hotels.

One panel I wanted to make sure to see was one on Ghost in the Shell. I arrived early only to find a line already waiting. Luckily I was able to get in and listen to the panel.

One of the moderators was Dennis, aka “DragonKhan”. He also started and moderates the LaughingMan Squad Yahoo! group. What was interesting is that Dennis didn’t fit the stereotype of a “cyberpunk fan”. For one thing, he’s older than Bruce Sterling. But, he was obviously a true fan and I enjoyed the discussion on the panel and wanted to talk to him more.

I asked Dennis to answer some questions about himself and the group. Do check out the Yahoo! group and perhaps contribute. After all, it’s always nice to talk to other enthusiastic fans!

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Users the world over engage in a virtual, multi-user environment in which they, playing the protagonist, must work their way up an increasingly violent learning curve. They share their experiences, of the struggle and of the enemies which seek to destroy them. It is a finite experience, and their journey does have an end; once this endgame arrives, they will start the process afresh.

If you’ll forgive my cheesy comparison, this is not merely a summary of the World of Warcraft-style MMO grind; it is Mercerism, the semi-religious practise carried out in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Cyberpunk movie blurbs

Sorry for the lack of posting recently. Real life has caught up to some of the writers and I was off to a conference across the country.

Anyway, here are some brief thoughts about three cyberpunk type movies: Blade Runner, Inception, and Ghost in the Shell.

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The Cyberpunk Medium

Whilst nobody would have cause (or would wish to) write cyberpunk’s obituary just yet, it’s clear that the theme has diversified, and its ideals have been adopted by many more media, since the 1980s. Lawrence Person wrote to Slashdot about the modern-day iteration of this theme, labelling them ‘post-cyberpunk’. Our own Psychochild has speculated upon the post-cyberpunk future too.

Cyberpunk works have taken a different tone, partly because writers today grew up with this science fiction sub-genre. The content has arguably changed because its once-radical themes have become passé, just as space travel once held a much larger sway in science-fiction. We see cyberpunk everywhere from games to comics and blockbuster films, and not just in our cult bookshelves. Does this dampen the message, or does it actually lend it strength? Are we losing sight of the way cyberpunk is delivered?

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Cyberpunk geopolitics

I want to delve a bit into politics. I’d really appreciate having a mature conversation here even though political issues, especially in the U.S., tend to stir up a lot of strong feelings. But, this is a topic that I think is interesting to discuss. I will also warn that this is from a very U.S.-centric point of view, but I welcome discussions from other points of view in the comments below.

The the bad old days of the 1980s, there was a palpable feeling of economic dread covering the U.S. The 1970s saw an energy crisis and a recession hurting the U.S. economy (sounds familiar….) The country experienced “stagflation”, state of inflation where the economy remains stagnant. This lead to lot of speculation about how countries with stronger economies might take a position of dominance on the world stage, replacing the U.S.’s traditional role.

One common focus was the rapid increase in Japan’s economic power, which is reflected in a lot of cyberpunk stories. Let’s take a look at the geopolitical situation envisioned by cyberpunk writers and perhaps look at how that is reflected in current times.

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Man’s Best Friends

While Innocence deals us a ‘man-machine’ conundrum by comparing humans with dolls, its prequel, Masaki Yamada’s After the Long Goodbye, looks instead to dogs. Animals are often overlooked in the cyberpunk dystopia, but some stories have dealt with them in a metaphor, either as a link back to nature or a reminder of how artificial the world has become. Pets in particular offer a wealthy topic for discussion, as their bonds to mankind lend us further thought on reality and the notion of souls.

By the time a technological dystopia has arrived, it seems common for cyberpunk animals to have been cloned or remade with robotics. Man makes animal, man makes robot; they’re both examples of our creation, and yet animals are not bound by manufacture in man’s own image. Does this make them less of a threat? More of an asset? How does this affect a cyberpunk character’s relationship with artificial life?

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So, after bashing cyberpunk as an MMO genre, time for me to play “good developer” and show why my evil twin was wrong. Why is cyberpunk a great genre for an MMO?

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As I’ve said before, I’m not just a cyberpunk aficionado, I’m also an MMO developer. These two interests intersect in interesting ways. There have been calls for a cyberpunk-themed MMO from many people, but it hasn’t happened yet. Why?

Let’s take a look at some reasons why cyberpunk is a terrible genre for an MMO.

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