As a self-proclaimed cyberpunk, this is probably going to sound ridiculous saying out loud, but I don’t necessarily want to live in a cyberpunk future. I know, it’s strange stance to take for being so into the genre.
The thing is, as cool as the tech is and the gritty neon street life, there is a hell of a lot of injustice going around in the common depictions of the Cyberpunk Future. Well – it wouldn’t be cyberpunk without it. That’s sort of the whole point. It’s a dystopic near future where government (read: corporations) has society by the short and hairies. Mix in some of the crazy technological advances that we’ve seen just in the last five years and we’re already a stone’s throw away from Neuromancer.
And well, as much as I love the book, I keep finding myself thinking that I don’t want to live on this planet anymore. Watching the news and staying tuned into everything that’s happening in the world feels a lot like watching my future, and the future of my entire generation crash and burn. And it’s this surreal feeling that in ten, twenty years we’re all going to be those characters in cyberpunk novels who are so choked by the status quo that their only option seems to be self-destruction – be it literally or spiritually – just to survive.
Then again, when you consider why I write cyberpunk and why I love the genre so much, this viewpoint isn’t so out of place. I have always believed that cyberpunk’s greatest attribute is it’s capacity to challenge societal norms. The reason the genre resonates so strongly is because it’s never far off the mark from the world we live in (or used to live in, depending on when it was written/made). Placing real world problems into a context that is more removed from our own lives, it becomes easier to question the long held beliefs and attitudes that either cause and/or allow these problems to continue.
So from where I’m sitting, I can’t help question that anyone should celebrate the Cyberpunk Future. Sure, the gadgets are real cool, but are they worth all the civil liberties being flushed down the drain to get them?