I’ve had Cyberpunk on my brain for a long while, now. I’ve been playing Cyberpunk 2077 quite a bit lately (and streaming it, occasionally). I’ve watched and rewatched Bladrunner and its sequel. Neuromancer is my current audio book. I have a longing to get into a Cyberpunk Red or Shadowrun game. The only way I’m ever going to move on from this genre is to write an actual Cyberpunk story.
I’m not talking about fan fiction in Mike Pondsmith’s world, or an adaption of anything related to Philip K. Dick. I want to write something new. I think I can do it.
My 2nd novel, Spin City, touches on some Cyberpunk tropes. It’s SciFi with some noir flavor, which is a huge part of the aesthetic of Cyberpunk. But there’s more to it.
I want to write about body autonomy, the evils of corporations when capitalism runs out of control, and the people that get caught in the middle when the machines of industry grind against each other.
In my next novel, I think I want to sprinkle in some patriotism and faith, as well. It’s through patriotism and faith that we see atrocities committed today. I think I can use that as pivotal, motivational grease to keep my new Cyberpunk world believable and unfortunately relatable.
This isn’t to say that I have anything strictly against patriotism or faith. I respect faith and think it’s important in our lives, whether we identify it as faith or not. And patriotism, when held in check with critical thinking, can also be fantastic. Who doesn’t want to be proud of and feel like a part of a nation that is prospering and doing good work?
So, I think I have some material to work with. In my Cyberpunk world, corporations run the world, and my main character is going to believe in the company that they work for. They will believe in it so much that they will do regrettable things. Patriotism and faith will be key. And then somewhere in second act, I’m going to shatter this person’s faith and send them to the streets.
During the second act, we’ll take our protagonist and pair them with someone that is an anticorporate, anti-capitalist rebel. Someone that is pushing for the opposite of what our protagonist stood for. Maybe this will be a love interest? Throw in a little bit of enemy to lovers, maybe?
By the third act, our protagonist has traded one faith for another, so we’ll pull the rug out from under them again. Perhaps the rebels have acquired fissile material and mean to bring down the whole system permanently?
Of course, the fissile material would have had to come from the corporations in the first place, and our protagonist should start to put together how much of what’s going on in the street is manipulation. The conflict keeps people uniting. The corporate wars are all a front and a means of keeping people down.
I’m not sure how this will end. None of what I’ve said here is written in stone. I have a little bit of an outline started, but it’s thin. I don’t know that much about my main character yet. If this is going to be a full novel, I’ll need more characters and side stories that support and push against the main thread.
I don’t think this can have a happy ending. The best we can hope for in this scenario is a satisfying ending. I’m not interested in writing 100,000 words just to bum people out. I will need to find some way to shine some light of hope at the end.
The reality is that I’m just going to be writing about our world as we know it, but exaggerated. We already live in a Cyberpunk dystopia. We’re constantly connected, wired to a digital world through our cell phones. Corporations control everything. The rich keep getting richer, the poor keep getting poorer, and basic human rights are eroded through corruption and dark money and greed. It’s hard to look at current events and maintain hope for the future.
But somehow, that’s what I want to achieve by the end of this novel.
I might be biting off more than I can chew with this one. We’ll see how it goes.