Cyberpunk Reimagined

Austin Dragon Behind The Scenes, Cyberpunk, Liquid Cool 264 Comments

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Yes, I’m writing a new science fiction series in a sub-genre called cyberpunk. Authors like Philip K. Dick and William Gibson are the most famous; the singular greatest movie of the genre is Ridley’s Scott’s classic Blade Runner from 1982. A few months back, I surveyed my own list of readers and fans to be surprised by the interest in cyberpunk science fiction. In fact, I was surprised by how much the genre is still regarded when its golden years, at least in Hollywood, ended back around 1985—that’s thirty years ago now—though interest exploded again with the Matrix trilogy, but the first Matrix movie was sixteen years ago!

Why the interest in this category of science fiction? Until it came on the scene, most of the science fiction was utopian, “Star Trek-ian,” man and society evolving into something better. To many, even the fans of Star Trek, that seemed wishful thinking, at best. Remember that back in the ‘80s we were still in the Cold War—America versus the Soviet Union. Science fiction writers can show us the hopeful, but they can also show us versions of the likely, or what they feel to be likely based on the current society. Enter cyberpunk and dystopian science fiction.

The darker side of science fiction is not new. Mary Shelley gave us the first science fiction novel with Frankenstein in 1818 and it was a dark and frightening one. Classic science fiction on television like The Twilight Zone and The (original) Outer Limits more often than not showed very dystopian futures and science (or man) gone awry. But cyberpunk gave us a new twist that endeared not only me, but millions of others and has never completely gone away.

With my new cyberpunk series, I put my on own twist on the sub-genre. How? Construct a future from the current time into a cyberpunkish future? Nope. That’s not particularly creative in my mind. I wanted to re-imagine cyberpunk not as a writer in the ‘80s projecting out to 2015 and beyond. I would be a writer from that 2015 and beyond, pretend I was back in the ‘80s, and write a different dystopian future. Here’s a list of the signature elements of the old cyberpunk and how my new cyberpunk series will be different and refreshing:

1) Old = Mega-corporations. New = Mega-corporations and Uber-governments.

This has not only been a staple of cyberpunk, but many books and movies, especially conspiracy ones. The ubiquitous, all-powerful megacorporations controlling governments or replacing them altogether.  Well, this is not the ‘80s and it’s okay to feature the dastardly megacorporation like the Weyland Yutani Corporation from the Alien movies, but we’re missing the big, fat elephant in the room—government! My series has its own “Cold War” but the antagonists are mega-corporations and uber-governments—both vying against each other for ultimate control. But interestingly, there are many people fighting to make sure neither one ever does.

2) Old = Japan rules the world. New = Heavy Asian influence, including cool samurai swords.

Back in the ‘80s, there was also something else happening on the economic stage: the rise of Japan as a major economic global power. The first Die Hard movie, Rising Sun (Michael Crichton’s blockbuster book that became a mediocre movie), and Gung Ho. Americans really did think Japan was going to take over economically and cyberpunk seemed to incorporate this fear. Japan plays a major role in my series because of specific business ventures. But the world of my series will read more like that of the old accounts of the New York urban, ethnic melting pot with one ethnic group dominating specific areas or industries, including China-Town and Old Harlem. As for Japanese samurai swords, they’re just cool so they’re in.

3) Old = Digital rules. New = Analog versus digital.

Much of the science fiction of that era was very prophetic. The big thing they missed was the pervasiveness of the cell phone/smartphone, but no one could predict Steve Jobs so that can be forgiven.  Also, since those writers were in the dawn of the computer age, they correctly foresaw past the Analog Age to the Digital Age, even if their view of digital was stuck in an old Atari game framework (a la the movie Johnny Mnemonic). The power of digital technology is quite astonishing, but so have the dangers. Hackers have gotten into the credit card records of major companies and even into the secret systems of the United States government–including the White House! Though the debate is over, we are in the digital age and we’re never going back to the analog age, but my series will do an interesting thing. It will have both technologies in its world fighting it out in the consumer marketplace and will provide a means to have some poignant examinations of technology as it relates to our daily lives.

4) Old = Robots, cyborgs and synthetic humans. New = No synthetic humans, but robots and cyborgs galore.

In the next book of my current After Eden series, there will be a scientific group that sets out to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is no God. They end up (according to them) doing quite the opposite. In cyberpunk stories, man is able to create biological humans and androids indistinguishable from actual humans. Man is also able to create robots with such advanced artificial intelligence that they inevitably have to be classified as sentient beings. I personally believe we never will be able to create life. Unfortunately, I believe we will be able to cheat and create all kinds of things that we shouldn’t and will pay a heavy price for it. Futurist and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku said it best when he described our most advanced robots as having “the intelligence of a retarded cockroach.” On the machine side, we will continue to advance, but to get to the point of sentience, I think not. That is not to say that we won’t turn over large parts of our life to some version of artificial intelligence—oops, oh wait, too late, we already do—and will continue to expand that. We will also advance our cybernetic technology. I do look forward to that day when we can say we’ve eliminated paralysis, blindness, and deafness from the world. Yes, we will achieve those things. “Brain-reading” technology is science fact, not science fiction anymore. But plugging brains into machines and downloading a person’s life essence into a robot will remain science fiction. In my cyberpunk series, they spend no time on notions of creating life, but in the practical (and profitable) realm of improving life through technology, especially mechanical. The “higher end” fixes involving genetic engineering and manipulation is reserved for the upper class.

5) Old = Flying cars. New = Well, yeah!

There are many, many reasons why even if we could make the technology economically sound that we would never have the flying cars as seen the Fifth Element movie or any of the Star Wars films. For one simple word: terrorism. In my new series, they find a way to make it feasible for the simple reason that they have no choice. They are just too many people packed into their urban cities that roads have to be the skies. There are also other peculiarities of their metropolis that make this path the one their society embraces which doesn’t apply to us.

6) Old = A dark and rainy world. New = Same, but for different reasons.

The movie Blade Runner has done more to burn an image of an authentic cyberpunk world into our minds than any other. It’s strange because the movie was not a box-office success when it was first released, but became the cult classic from video and DVD rental stores (remember those). I keep this tenet but the reasons are different. In cyberpunk stories of old, the dark skies and constant rain speak to environmental damage of us humans. In my series, the reasons are quite different and have nothing to do with environmental catastrophe but from millennium old struggles of social class.

But even separate from the reason for the look of a cyberpunk world is the fact it fits the cyberpunk underlying theme of “high tech and low life” – a slummy, grimy, neo-noir landscape where the powerful lord over the powerless masses below.

This is all part of the world of my upcoming cyberpunk detective series.  Name reveal coming soon as well as the amazing cover!

If you aren’t already a VIP member, sign up to my list HERE and get the ebook prequel along with two other novels FREE.

#Cyberpunk #ScienceFiction #BladeRunner

What do you think about my “Cyberpunk Reimagined” World of Liquid Cool?

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Austin Dragon

Austin Dragon

Author of the sci-fi After Eden Series, classic Sleepy Hollow Horrors, cyberpunk detective series, Liquid Cool, and new epic fantasy adventure, Fabled Quest Chronicles. He is a native New Yorker, but has called Los Angeles, California home for the last twenty years. Words to describe him, in no particular order: U.S. Army, English teacher, one-time resident of Paris, movie buff, Fortune 500 corporate recruiter, renaissance man, dreamer.
Austin Dragon

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Comments 264

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    Hi Austin…Enjoying Your Books!! Cyberpunk Reimagined World of Liquid Cool is so imaginative and a great read.

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    A new adventurer is looking forward to stepping into this world you’ve created. Some fantastic ideas and imaginings of a world maybe not as distant as we think! Will enjoy wading into your books when I get the chance 🙂

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    I finally know what cyberpunk is! When I was enjoying P.K. Dick and other sci-fi authors of the 70’s and 80’s had no idea cyberpunk even existed. Looking forward to trying out yours.

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    Great analysis of the genre. Animosity between mega-corporations and governments feels like a very contemporary issue. I know that some of us have a habit of thinking that governments are all in the pocket of big business now, but even the most corporate-friendly governments have different pressures to those of the business world. And which government makes a huge difference…

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    Cool! Everything about this sounds awesome! I especially like your aspect of a heavy Asian influence in your ideas of cyberpunk.

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    It is a great read, I truly enjoyed the first book in the series and am looking forward to the sequel. What I really like about it is how Austin sets up the atmospheric tension that exists in a futuristic metropolis and how the characters are able to thrive.

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    Sounds interesting! Lately I am not reading as much as I used to because my wrist hurt after awhile. I really need an ereader but I am a single mom and cant justify spending the money on myself!

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    It is so refreshing to see a science fiction novel that doesn’t romanticize a dystopian future. It is supposed to be dark and despairing. What I like about Austin’s novels is he presents the setting in a way that is exciting and fun without the unrealistic premise of young adult romance.

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    Very cool and interesting. I look forward to checking out your books. I never really looked too much at the genre that I’m reading, I just pick up books that interest me. So I look forward to see if your books hold my interest.

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    I’ve always liked cyberpunk, even if i’m not a fan of Blade Runner. Your ‘reimagined’ cyberpunk sounds pretty interesting.

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    Sounds like a good read. I’ve never read cyberpunk before but would love to begin with this book.

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    Have to say I didn’t read all of that. Love the design lines of steampunk. It’s a genre that lends itself to audio drama well.

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    I love Science fiction . I saw the Matrix movies, Star Wars, Star Trex. I visited a old Star Wars set in Tunisia last year in Sahara desert. Cyberpunk Re-Imagined detective series seems very exciting. I want to see the name of it released soon !!

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  204. Pingback: Theme of the Month: February 2016 - Official Website of Author Austin Dragon

  205. Pingback: Favorite Blog Post #4: Cyberpunk Reimagined - Official Website of Author Austin Dragon

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    I like your overall concept and creative vision. It reminds me of elements from the respective animated television series, “Samurai Jack” and “Batman Beyond”. Your ideas, while fiction, seem within the realm of possibility to me.

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    I usually have to suspend a lot of the things I believe when I read Cyberpunk so that I can enjoy it. It makes the sub-genre not one I seek out.

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    I am always down for a good mystery! I think a detective thriller series set in a “reimagined” cyberpunk world sounds amazing!! Mysteries and thrillers are two of my favorite things and a series that has both of these elements is right up my alley.

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    This captures my attention, I haven’t read and cyberpunk yet but i want to red this series. I love trying new authors and different types of books but I have like very few mystery writers. This hwever sounds promising.

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    I appreciate the thought that was put into this. Its is more challenging for the author but more interesting as a reader. Life isn’t always perfect and reflecting that seems to be a responsibility and it provides more depth.

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