Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Cyberpunk old and new

Just got finished reading the reprinted John Shirley's City Come a Walkin'.
The intro by William Gibson makes it sound like this is the germ of cyberpunk, the real deal, the font from which the whole Movement came.

I'm not buying it. I enjoyed the book, but to me, it read more like splatterpunk than cyberpunk. The cyber element is laughable -- it's an ATM network run by the mob. That's it. Oh, and it's got a character with mirrorshades. Truly, it's just a horror story with some SF elements (that ATM network making cash obsolete, autopiloted cars, and some out-of-nowhere telepathy).

It's definitely punk: one of the common features between Cyberpunk and Splatterpunk is violation of the self, transformation or transgressive action. We've certainly got that. And "angst rock" features strongly, another hallmark of the punk movements.

On the other hand, I read C.J. Cherryh's Hammerfall recently... and I think she got the point of Cyberpunk. Sure, it's a Cherryh book, with its tone and attitude, but it's got some truly cyberpunk elements: most of the main characters have a "tap" -- a nanotech implant to communicate directly mind to mind. The main character, Procyon, has the defining violation and transformation. Fashion plays a major role for a number of characters (there was a bit of fashion in Shirley's book too, mostly involving bare breasts). It was refreshing to read an author with a take on the cyber sub-genre, and quite a twist on its predecessor, Forge of God. I'm hoping there's a third book in this sequence, most likely hundreds of years later, just like this one was versus FoG.

No comments: