- Deltron 3030, by Del tha Funky Homosapien, etc.
- Cybrid, by Deathline International
- Software, by The Cassandra Complex
- Hardware, by The Cassandra Complex – Wetware, it’s Rudy Rucker’s Ware tetralogy!
- Mechanical Symphony, by In Strict Confidence
- The Plague, by The Cassandra Complex
- Voice of the Echo Chamber, by Flesh Field
Most all of these are out of print, or so obscure that apparently I’m the only person I know who’s ever read them.
- Blame!: Nihei Tsutomu, Blame! anime previously reviewed.
- Blame! Academy And So On: Nihei Tsutomu’s art book, weird school side-story to Blame!
- Noise: Nihei Tsutomu, prequel to Blame!
- Digimortal: Nihei Tsutomu. Bleak and awesome.
- AD Police: The serious part of Bubblegum Crisis. The anime is OK but not as good as BGC, the manga are the other way around.
- Black Magic: Shirow Masamune’s original epic of an Athena/Typhon bioroid sorceress fighting to free Venusians from an evil AI god Zeus 66 million years ago. The anime takes one minor element, the M-66 combat robots, and turns that into a well-drawn but vapid present-day (1990s) Terminator ripoff.
- Appleseed: Shirow Masamune. “The Promethean X” are the four volumes of a girl and her cyborg boyfriend from a post-WWIII wasteland trying to “adapt” to a city created by and for bioroids, where Human people go crazy. Is civilization even possible for Humans?
- Dominion Tank Police: Shirow Masamune. Bleaker than the very silly anime, but both are kinda light-hearted with absolute doom for humanity.
- Orion: Shirow Masamune. Very weird Buddhist-fantasy-tech. Like steampunk but with mandalas and priests instead of Victorian aristocrats fucking you over. Main character is very much Typhon 2.0.
- Ghost in the Shell 1.5 Human Error Processor: Shirow Masamune, the volume you certainly missed between GitS 1 & 2, which you can find new copies so I won’t link to. Here Motoko/Puppetmaster hybrid learns to redesign user interfaces and jump between bodies (mostly taut young female cyborgs, because Shirow’s a perv, and who isn’t?)
- Lazarus Churchyard: Warren Ellis, an immortal plastic-spiky-boy in a ruined England (post Brexit, ha!) trying to die and failing. Generally possible to get in print?
In all cases, I suggest grabbing the torrent and then just keeping all the cbz, read with your comic reader of choice.
In light of asshole publishers attacking archive.org: Hachette Book Group, Inc., Harpercollins Publishers LLC, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and Penguin Random House LLC.
Libraries are important, and we need to do everything to protect the biggest one in the world.
So here’s some SF, mostly cyberpunk, mostly POC or marginalized protagonists, mostly collapsing urban environments. Plus Zeitgeist, which is an optimistic view from 1999-2000, remember when that was possible?
- Serial Experiments: Lain (EN Sub) playlist
- Serial Experiments: Lain OST
- Cyberia Mix
- OST Collection: Not sure what all these tracks are yet.
- Visual Experiments: Lain artbook (JP)
You know how so much of anime has a naïve teenage protagonist with a lot of school drama, who gets powers, and saves the world? Well, Lain starts there and then veers wildly off, into Internet Protocols, simulationism, UFO/Gaea/psionics conjectures, secret societies, radical home computer upgrades, and not only doesn’t save the world but there may never have been a world to save. There’s also a lot of really great music; the OST and Cyberia mixes are big parts of my Coding Soundtracks playlist.
BLAME! was a manga by Tsutomu Nihei from the late ’90s/early ’00s, like the result of listening to the Terminator soundtrack and Front Line Assembly and drawing that. A weird loner named Killy with an overpowered gravity gun, wanders an infinitely large ruined city, infested with Exterminators that want to kill all the unauthorized Humans, as he searches for someone with the Net Terminal Gene which would allow Humans to connect to the city again. It’s bitter and mostly silent, harsh industrial lines and weird kabuki-masked spidery bots and fake people.
It’s not quite “cyberpunk”, because it’s not the street finding new uses for (military-corporate) technology, but techno-savages trying to survive the street killing them. Cyber-apocalyptic, like Terminator‘s future, Screamers, or Hardware.
What I didn’t know is there was a movie made, available on Netflix!
And, uh, it’s the manga. The point of view characters are Human survivors in a village, and why they were mostly safe (but dying out) until Killy shows up is the main plot. The city is as brutal and unliveable as the manga, and the technical scenes are fantastic. Killy is quiet and blank, because he knows they’re screwed and they don’t have what he wants, but he’ll help as long as it’s practical and he might get some advantage over Safeguard. Very slight nitpicks: There’s only a couple of bot designs instead of the rampant cyberization of Human and near-Human and the whole environment of the manga. There’s a plot twist I didn’t see any clues for, but I might’ve spaced out at some run-and-scream bit. There’s a lack of discussion of the nature and motives of Cibo, that I think was also needed. Maybe the Man in Black Rides Off Into the Sunset ending and denouement is a little trite for the manga which is so harsh and unforgiving. But for anime adaptation of an impossibly harsh and inhuman source material, I’ve never seen better.
- Art of Computer Animation 1988
- The Mind’s Eye 1990
- Beyond the Mind’s Eye 1992
- Future Shock VHS 1993
- Warp Records Motion 1994
- Escape to Transcyberia 1995
- Odyssey into the Mind’s Eye 1997
- Infinity’s Child 1999
- Thomas Dolby’s Gate to the Mind’s Eye
Reminder: I have useful helper scripts for youtube-dl and VLC, ytplaylist
- Ware Tetralogy: Software, Wetware
I must’ve read Software on release in 1982 or in the next year; heavy stuff for a 12- or 13-year-old little mutant Mark. I’ve reread it a number of times since, and got more out of it each time. This time, it’s notable how short and fast it is for so much information.
I guess I should mention, since some people are neurotic about this, there’s a lot of sex, drugs, nudity, more sex, really weird drugs, cannibalism, and bodily functions. Also a lot of violence, but the people who are most neurotic about harmless, consensual sex or drugs seem to think murdering people is fine, respectable behavior. This is why you Humans freak me out and repulse me.
Software (1982): Cobb Anderson goes from crusty old drunk to immediately going along with (“waving”) the Boppers’ (AI robots he created and then freed from Asimovian slavery) plan to immortalize some Humans by the messiest process possible. Sta-Hi Mooney’s given very short shrift here, much of what I remember of him actually comes from the next book.
The Bopper architecture and programming are discussed in depth, and the Little Boppers’ war on the Big Boppers (centralization instead of anarchy) is surprisingly, pointedly relevant to current reality for a 36-year-old book. Since the book is set in 2020, and Cobb made the Boppers for Lunar mining, uh, we’re WAY fucking behind on space and robotics in our shitty timeline.
The religion Personetics is super obvious as a scam, and yet Humans really fall for Dianetics (in my OMNI rereads, Dianetics is advertising every issue with this faux-serious tone), or for that matter any religion, which are all just scams to take your money and control you. And then everything goes sideways, lack of backup systems and over-controlling middle management ruin everything. Fin.
Wetware (1988): I read this just going into college to fuck my brain up. Probably haven’t read the whole thing since then, skimmed it in parts. The first half following Sta-Hi, er, “Stahn” Mooney and a number of boppers in a city stolen from the boppers on the Moon, is great. FANtastic, full of weird drugs, sex, murders, people with rats in their heads. The Boppers are desperate and vindictive here, war and evolution pushing them to the edge.
Second arc about Della and her new “son” on Earth is annoying, weird, and… As Cobb says, “Della’s parents are jerks, I’ll tell you that much. What kind of couple is named Jason and Amy?” Cousin Willy Taze screwing around (sometimes literally) with AIs is the only redeeming part of this entire shitty set of chapters. The Gimmie (easily the best name ever for the Federal government) reacts only with murder and fear, like usual. While I mostly agree with the principles of “Manchile’s Thang!”, the free love equality cult, I dislike every part of the delivery.
Third arc back on the Moon, and the end of the Boppers, seems a little formulaic crime drama for a while, until it gets into what price Stahn’s willing to pay for revenge and to recover his wife in any form. The weapon used is interesting; as our chips get more complex, side attacks like that look more practical. The moldies and Happy Cloak’s return are all friendly and heroic here, which is… not how it’ll be in later books.
The first book is under 180 pages, and it flew past in a couple days; it’s dense but fast, a lightspeed bullet to shatter your brain. Second’s just over 200, feels much longer, and took me a couple starts; most of the good parts in 5 days, but then after the second arc I paused a couple weeks. Freeware is 300. Realware is another 315. And I recall these aren’t any less dense. May need some lighter fare first.
- Beyond Cyberpunk: 1991 Hypercard stack
- BCP web version
- Cyberpunk, by Billy Idol: I like it, I don’t care if he’s a cheesy little idiot.
- Billy Idol’s Cyberpunk Mac app: I can’t find an emulator of it, but it’s just interactive liner notes and a couple screen savers. Enjoy.
- Archive of Hotwired.com from 1997: Most of the art wasn’t saved, it’s often broken, but you can get some idea of what it was like.
What I want to note here is the UI in the original BCP and Billy’s app. Borders filled with wiring and lights. Knobs and switches. Big chunky click areas. Punk rock, graffiti art. When you click things, audio and animations tell you something happened. Not so much the “Jacking into the Matrix. Into the FUTURE!” clip.
It’s much easier to find and read information in the web version, but it’s not fun. It’s ugly and boring. Like almost everything on the web and apps these days, from Jony IVE-1138’s sterile white room prisons where you’re tortured for daring to have a personality, to all these endless linkblogs.
There are places with personality, but not many. The web looks like shit. Update: Brutalist Websites has some GeoCities-like aesthetics in a few. Others are sterile voids.
And that’s bothering me about this blog. It looks OK, the stolen Midgar art and my ’80s neon colors set some kind of tone, but it can be so much more. So in the weeks and months to come, I’m gonna be doing some redesign, make this into something weirder, if not full-on GeoCities. The RSS feed should be uninterrupted, but I’m going to put a lot more resources on the front page.