This post is part of the State of Cyberpunk blog series.
Adam Myhr can’t recall if it was the book Neuromancer by William Gibson or the video game by the same name that first introduced to him to cyberpunk. Either way, it was Shadowrun that ultimately sealed the deal for him, and drew him into the world of digital matrixes and men melded to machines.
It was the tech-human fusion in cyberpunk that most appealed to Adam. In cyberpunk he saw a future where the common people didn’t have the power they should, the corporation had too much power, and the government was unable to intervene. It made sense then that people would turn to tech, even go so far as to embed it in their bodies to balance the scales, or at least give themselves a chance.
It made sense then, that Adam’s first foray into cyberpunk creation was digital.
“The first thing I created for cyberpunk was an AmigaBASIC game,” Adam recalled fondly. “I uploaded it just because, and it was horrible, but it was something I did out of the love of the genre.”
Fast forward thirty years, and Adam is now an author. His book, Download Initializing, focuses on AI and the singularity concept.
“As soon as I started working on it the entire world opened up to me,” Adam related. He wanted to explore a post-AI world, one where humanity had a brush with the power and danger of true AI, overcame it, and banned it. He wanted to explore what the world might look like with a fully functioning AI – what its goals would be and how society would react to it.
He found books to be the perfect medium for the story.
“There’s something about that near future cyberpunk that’s hard to get right in the details,” Adam explained. “In books, the reader’s imagination fills in the gaps.”
To Adam, cyberpunk is a genre that features dominant, oversized and power-hungry corporations, but he doesn’t quite qualify it as a dystopia.
“Most dystopias aren’t quite techy enough,” he pointed out. “Because if people had that tech, they’d do what Runners do – fight back.”
Tech then, for all of its dangers, is the tool that stops corporations from completely dominating and consuming society. It’s an interesting catch-22: technological advances are what give mega-corporations the power to surveil, manipulate, and even outright hunt the people they prey on, but those advances may also be the only weapon against them.
Adam doesn’t see cyberpunk as an optimistic genre, however.
“There’s a lot of hopelessness to it,” Adam observed. “People compare cyberpunk to noir stories because there isn’t a happily ever after, just an after.”
It’s a gritty world without perfect endings. At the end of the day, the best a protagonist can do is turn up their collar against the rain, and disappear into the night.
The Future’s Coming Faster
As he looks at cyberpunk as a genre to create in, Adam voiced the same rueful observation I’d heard from other creators: the future keeps getting closer.
“The interesting thing about cyberpunk as a science fiction, and also one of its limitations, is that it’s near-future science fiction,” Adam explained. “It can start to feel dated… The near future is in two years now, instead of ten or twenty.”
People are looking to cyberpunk to predict what’s going to happen next, but creators can hardly turn it out fast enough to keep from writing current events. That being said, Adam still believes the genre has a lot of value for us. It has an advantage over broader science fiction in looking to the future.
“Science fiction has always been about examining the problems of today by taking ourselves out of it and putting us in the far future,” Adam pointed out. “Humans are messy though, and cyberpunk keeps us in the equation.”
As he looks at the future of the genre, Adam wants to see cyberpunk continue to break out of literature into other genres.
“Movies have done ok but we’ll see” said Adam. “I’d like to see more cyberpunk games, and especially in VR…. Books are great and I love them, but other mediums can be easier to share and feel a lot more real to a lot of people.”
Whatever the future holds for cyberpunk, and its creators, the world won’t have to wait long for it. The future is closing with us too quickly.
Interested in Adam’s work? Get your own copy of Download Initializing for FREE through Friday, June 15 by clicking on the link below:
Give it a read, let him know what you think, and be sure to leave a review!