I’d like to introduce you to a fantastic sci fi writer who loves the genre! JC Hay graciously volunteered to write a guest blog when I told him about a friend of mine who loves the genre and wants more details about writing cyberpunk. Thank you, JC! Take it away.
Piercing the Shadows of Cyberpunk
I love Cyberpunk, and have loved it since I first picked up a copy of William Gibson’s Neuromancer. And while it’s safe to say that the technology we expected to see in our 1980s vision of the future has changed (smartphones, anyone? How about augmented reality?) there’s still a lot of life that can be breathed into these tales of high-tech lowlifes. After all, sci-fi doesn’t just have to be about far-away planets or shiny silver spaceships. But how do you world-build for a cyberpunk story?
When I started to write my Corporate Services book, I wanted to tell love stories for people who weren’t just on the fringes of society, they were effectively outcast from it. Cyberpunk, with its focus on the lawless underbelly of a corporate dystopian future, seemed the perfect place to approach these characters. People who weren’t traditional romance heroines or heroes, but still deserved their own happily-ever-after.
That’s the “punk” element of the genre in a nutshell – none of the heroes are squeaky clean. They’ve got baggage, and even those forced to work within the system hate it and are trying to undermine it. There’s an element of the transhumanist in that punk ethos as well – characters who invasively modify their bodies because it makes them better than human, rather than because of medical need.
As for the “cyber” side of the coin – that’s easier and harder at the same time. Our perceptions of how AI might work, of how cybernetic limbs and organs might function, and even how money worked in the 80s is being turned on its head every day. A quick stop by Futurism.com provides a near limitless supply of articles about advances in organic printing, limb augmentation, and transportation that are only a few years from being commonplace. Knowing what’s coming helps bring the world to life, and staying up to date on advances is vital to writing near-future science fiction. Some of the genre’s tropes go hand in hand with this – body modification, hacking, and the blurred line between what’s artificial and what’s real.
Finally, the themes in the stories that define the genre tend to borrow heavily from noir and hardboiled detective fiction (Look at the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, for example, or the Phillip K Dick novel on which it’s based – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep). Add in the overload of data, and the inescapable hyperurbanization, and the breakdown of governments in response to climate change and overpopulation, and the setting becomes ripe for stories about the questionable things people do to get by.
That’s where I found the characters and settings for my own cyberpunk series, Corporate Services. They’re the people on the margins, or under the thumb of the system; people who find someone to care about at the worst possible timing, and who endure a crucible to come out transformed. If you’ve not read any cyberpunk, I hope you give it a chance. And if you love cyberpunk like I do, share some of your favorites in the comments. I’m always looking for more to read, and happy to discuss!
About Corporate Services
A high-tech thief gets framed for murder and finds herself on the run with target she was supposed to deliver instead: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M1M8FRL/
A corporate cleanup man heads home to finish one last job, and finds the one woman he could never forget and who may never forgive him: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N1YGDFU
About JC Hay
JC Hay writes romantic science fiction and space opera, because the coolest gadgets in the world are useless without someone to share them.
In addition to Romance Writers of America, he is also a proud member of the SFR Brigade (for Science Fiction Romance), the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Romance chapter, and a proud member of RWA’s PAN (the published authors network).
His Corporate Services series, a set of connected cyberpunk romances set eighty years in our future, follow desperate couples finding each other in a future where the limits of humanity are being stretched and tested.
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