Sitrep: Everything old is new again – cyberpunk is back

Cyberpunk

By on January 23, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Alright. Who called it? Yes. It was me, thankyou for asking.I’ve written extensively about my jacked-in love for ‘80s sci-fi baby cyberpunk in the past, both for games.on.net and elsewhere. Naturally and because every game dev hungrily devours just about everything I write ever*, the resurgence I picketed for in an annoying way has not stopped at Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Syndicate and even Gemini Rue.

In fact, it looks like it’s becoming a thing all over again in 2013. This year alone we’re gonna hear from Watch Dogs, Remember Me, maybe Prey 2 (I’m an optimist), and most blinding and recently of them all, Cyberpunk 2077. Okay, that last one’s slated for “when it’s ready”, but it’s definitely got your attention. Kick. Ass.

You know, I just finished reading William Gibson’s Neuromancer for the first time. I was pretty late to that party, but I seriously still wasn’t ready for that book. It may not have coined the term “cyberpunk,” but it made it what it is. It’s futurist and quaint in the same way that makes the genre so sort of beguiling on an almost cute level; a crystal ball and a relic in one. It invented and visualised the concept of “the matrix” way before the Wachowski kids ever put keyboard stroke to screen, but yet it somehow failed to anticipate the mobile phone. It’s just so ‘80s that way.

Cyberpunk is full of turns still unrealised and contradictions only made known to it decades later. There is nothing else like it, and it’s such a perfect antithesis to brown military shooters I can totally envision the day when everything is instead a grey cyberpunk shooter instead (please don’t, big three).

It’s also turned out that it’s a cyclical kind of thing, and the ideas explored in it – the dystopian paranoia, the technological mores and the sinister enablement contained within – are now more relevant than they were 30 years ago. There are mechanised killing machines in the air above Syria, just watching (waiting). Your personal identity becomes more and more a part of the internet with each passing year. All those numbers that are so important to you – your credit card, your mobile – are in there in vast quantities, held by corporations mostly. The corporation rules; the world’s richest could have ended poverty four times over. The great irony is that gaming demands the most dedicated connectivity of all. We’re all cowboys; some of us are even artistes, as Ratz calls Case in Neuromancer, “of the slightly funny deal.”

And when I saw Cyberpunk 2077, I thought not of sexism and the patriarchy or whatever else gamingdom at large is hating on right now, but of Neuromancer’s Molly, the book’s real main character. Molly the razorgirl – Steppin’ Razor, to the Zionites – a street samurai augmented beyond belief by the black market surgeons of Chiba City. Ten 4cm double-edged blades, one in each finger. Mirrored lenses and she has cat’s eyes now. Reflexes to match, too. Hot-rodded nervous system. None of this stuff is cheap, she tell us later. She had to do some things to get the money. Work as a meat puppet, she says. Renting her body out for the night and turning off her consciousness. One night her employers switched her back on in the middle of things and her John was acting sick. Something had to be done. You were definitely watching cyberpunk that rainy trailer day.

*live in the golden clouds, it’s fantastic

15 comments (Leave your own)

I dreamt that Cyberpunk would be done right. I was frightened of those dreams, because I’ve seen so many *horrible* renditions of other genres .. but this .. this just might make it.

 
steve_rogers42

Hahaha tobes, read on to all tomorrow’s party’s and your mind will shit technicoloured bricks of awesome. I saw more matoko kusanagi than I saw Molly millions in that trailer…

 

Aye, Matoko would be an epic thrill ride. Ghost in the Shell indeed :D

Though a good bit of Appleseed would be appreciated too ;)

 
steve_rogers42

Blaming my 1 bar of reception for future double posting…. both arcs are great reads from Gibson but count zero and monalisa OD aren’t as good as idoru or all tomorrow’s… I have yet to read snow crash but have heard great things… also look up Harlan Ellison. Or just look up shirow masamune… and fap lots….

 
Toby McCasker

steve_rogers42,

Have added it to THE LIST. Thanks bud.

 

Wyld:
I dreamt that Cyberpunk would be done right. I was frightened of those dreams, because I’ve seen so many *horrible* renditions of other genres .. but this .. this just might make it.

Surely deus ex counts as cyber punk, and you don’t get much more “done right” (the first one not the aweful sequels)

 

hope you’ve read Snow Crash too, Toby

 

So how badly did you squee when they had that relationship talk and you realized exactly who “Molly” is Toby? That was the best part of the book for me, totally went “FUUAAAAARK!”.

 

Cannot wait for this!

 
 
Toby McCasker

nekosan,

I KNOW RIGHT?! btw. Neuromancer was actually made into a point ‘n click game years ago. I don’t think it has anything to do with anything, haha.

 

Still love the old game Bloodnet, that was some cyberpunk fun, one of the best.

 
jerichosainte

Never come across cyberpunk myself but it reminds me a lot of Ghost in the Shell. The concept of a cyborg searching for their identity/purpose/soul gives me tingles thinking about what cyberpunk has to offer. Looks good!

Can anyone point me towards some source content?

 
Toby McCasker

jerichosainte,

Neuromancer and Snow Crash like a3gis mentioned. There are heaps but those two are amazing. Blade Runner is a quite seminal flick, but the book it’s based on is maybe just what you’re looking for: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I must’ve read that thing about 20 times. I recently saw a newish anime called Mardock Scramble that was intensely cyberpunky, too. Recommended.

 
jerichosainte

Cheers guys.

I only just got Mardock Scramble myself but haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. I must get onto that.

 
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