People have often asked me what things have struck me as the most Cyberpunk moments in my life. There are a lot of them, but here’s one of the most impressive– the view from the highest building in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
For years, I’ve tried to describe what it’s like to be looking out over a cityscape full of Manhattan-sized skyscrapers–that goes on unendingly to the horizon– in all four directions of the compass. The largest city on the southern hemisphere; the seventh largest city on earth, SP is so big that many of my “Paulista” friends who live there have never been to the other side of the city. At ground level, the city streets are a tight maze of buildings, parks, enormous billboards (the biggest I’ve ever seen and I’ve been to a lot of places around the world) and milling people.
Skyscraper lobbies are filled with entire street markets of microstalls, where you can buy produce, meat and knicknacks. Totally Cyberpunk. Giant billboards flicker overhead, blinding with shifting video pixels. Totally Cyberpunk.
So until I get to Tokyo, SP is my most Cyberpunk megalopolis. And I love the place.
I’ll leave you with a bit of video to think about. It even sounds Cyberpunk.
Waaay back in 1990, the Cyberpunk idea of a plastic gun that could be created on an “autofactory” machine was the stuff of science fiction. But now…
Yep, the Dark Future is closer than u think…
This mindblowing piece of cinema perfectly outlines what it means to be fully interfaced in a Cyberpunk future.
Watch it…and be…educated.
It’s 2013. And years ago, when I wrote Cyberpunk, I used to joke that by 2013, my son (who at that point was only a conceptual gleam in his daddy’s eye) would be lopping off limbs to be a fashionable teenager in the Dark Future.
Cyber-fashion. Up to now, the idea of “cyber-fashion” has been only a concept from science fiction. So imagine my delight when I stumbled across a TED talk by fashion model and athlete Aimee Mullins about prosthetic limbs–not as replacements for lost parts (Aimee’s been missing both her legs since childhood), but as fashion statements and desirable forms of body modification. People have often commented about the juxtaposition of sheer, smooth femininity and hard edged cyberware in ‘Punk for years–I’ve taken a bit of heat over the classic illustration of Alt Cunningham at the start of Never Fade Way (especially from the feminist side). But there was a reason why I commissioned that art. I wanted to show, in a totally IN YOUR FACE way, that in the Dark Future, sexy and cyber– augmented and attractive– beautiful and dangerous– are not necessarily oppositional concepts. Keeping that in mind, fold that picture of Alt with her shiny metal arm into this picture of Aimee Mullins with her supertech “cheetah” legs.
Fellow Cyberpunks; the future has arrived.
The title of this post is a reference to one of Ms. Mullin’s stories–when a friend of hers find out that Mullins has used a pair of augmented legs to add 6 inches to her height, she exclaims, “But that’s not fair!” And that, people, is how cyber-fashion gets started.
But I’ll let Aimee tell the story; and her vision of an augmented, no boundaries future, in her own words:
By the way; the legs she’s wearing are only one of her 12 pairs. And you think you have trouble deciding what shoes to wear when you get up in the morning. Wimp.
People often ask me how much of an influence author William Gibson was on the Cyberpunk RPG. Yet, the funny thing is, when I started writing CP, I hadn’t actually READ any Gibson– my primary influences were Blade Runner and Walter Jon Williams’ Hardwired (as a matter of fact, Walter was an early play tester on Cyberpunk). But as soon as Walter Jon told me I had to read Gibson, I went right out and grabbed Neuromancer. And I remember telling my wife later that night, “This guy is so good, he makes my teeth hurt.”
Over the years, I have heard all kinds of quotes from and about William Gibson, and one resonated with me–that he viewed Blade Runner in much the same way I did–this stuff is going to happen–and I can see it in my head just like this movie is showing it. And trust me; it’s a very scary place to be– sitting in a darkened theater, watching the dark future as you see it spinning out frame by frame, knowing that everything you see is a potential truth just waiting for time and history to unlock it.
So when I discovered this interview with Gibson (from the magazine Paris Review), I poured over it like a thirsty man attacks a beer. And had this eerie feeling that for years now, William Gibson and I have been walking the same future streets, absorbing the same writers, the same visions and the same history–always in parallel, always in dopplerspace, never meeting, never seeing the other, heading towards a vision that both of us can see in the near darkness of the future.
But of course, he’s a hell of a lot better at communicating that vision than I will ever be. Me? I just write games.
Enough rambling. Read the interview. It’s awesome.