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Cyberpunk Reality

Our probable future.


William Gibson’s Neuromancer was the first cyberpunk novel I read. If I recall, it’s the book many consider to be the first of the cyberpunk sub-genre, and Gibson is its founder.

I fell in love with cyberpunk because it felt real. Shining, domed cities with soaring, delicate towers, sleek and glittering aircars are great. But it’s kind of like Disneyland. Like, I saw a promo pic from the 1939 World’s Fair that envisioned what our world would be like in the 1970s. Guy in a silver tunic and matching trousers, aiming a ray gun. A woman in this silver wrap-kind of dress, her hair twisted around these big, silver, bubble-looking things.

Then we hit the 1970s. Honestly, it wasn’t that much different from the 1930s and 1940s. Sure, societal norms had relaxed. The cars were different, much more streamlined. We had more gadgets. The clothes were different, especially that casual dress was acceptable to wear outside the house. T-shirts were the norm, and women wore trousers and jeans without anyone batting an eye. And went braless, too. An aside: My father didn’t let  me wear pants to school until I was 13. He never wore jeans until he was about 40.

But my point is, the two time periods weren’t so far apart that the world of 1939 was unrecognizable in the 1970s. Hell, some people who attended that World’s Fair in 1939 were still living in the 1970s.

The near future will look a lot like today.

I think cyberpunk is what our future is really going to look like. The world will be different, but still recognizable. There will be more gadgets, entertainment will be like nothing we have today, and people might have brain implants like in Minority Report. Society will probably have evolved mores maybe we wouldn’t understand. But still recognizable.

And there will still be dirt and dust. You ever notice how in a lot of sci fi shows, everything is squeaky clean?

Years ago, I attended the short film festival at a sci fi convention. The one that struck me was titled A Can of Paint. The main character was a junker, a scavenger who snagged found objects, maybe floating in space or somesuch, and sold them. Guy looked like a junker, too. Cute, though. He operated out of his spaceship, a worn, beat-up thing filled with his finds. Sound familiar? That reality show, American Pickers. Traveling around, finding stuff that maybe they can sell. A Can of Paint was set far (or perhaps not so far) in the future, but again, that future was recognizable.

The cyberpunk sub-genre is just more realistic. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy stories that have shining cities on the hill. But they probably aren’t what the future will look like.

Cyberpunk is the reality.



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