#30 - Cyberpunks

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The Nickscast wanders down a gritty alleyway, away from the bright lights and ads to jack-in to their terminals to talk about fans of cyberpunk! Is cyberpunk still relevant to today? What happened to it all? What does it mean for a work to be cyberpunk (vs transhumanism) and what does it mean to be a fan of something so broad as a genre? We find out!

Next week, we’ll be having a special-guest friend (and fellow Nick) join us as we talk about fans of movies, cinephiles!

Episode outline

Fandom Facts

Origins:
Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, and, as such, is hard to pin down in terms of a fandom. Sometimes it is an element of a work, and other times it is merely an aesthetic.

In the 1980s, authors like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling wrote dystopian novels set 20 Minutes into the Future, where they explored themes such as the impact of modern technology on everyday life, the rise of the global datasphere as an arena for communication, commerce, conflict, and crime, and invasive cybernetic body modifications. The heroes of these in dark and cynical stories were marginalized, disillusioned, and rebellious “punks” striving for survival against overwhelming odds, often futilely, in corrupt megacities and surreal cyberspace realms. Bruce Bethke called this Cyberpunk, and it was good.
TVTropes - Punk Punk

It is often referred to as “a combination of lowlife and high tech”.

There is no shortage of different definitions of cyberpunk. 
— T

Some examples of cyberpunk (or post-cyberpunk) works include:

  • Blade Runner
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Neuromancer
  • Deus Ex
  • Bubblegum Crisis
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Psycho-Pass

Most Active:
According to this analysis of novels and movies released each year from 1980 to 2007 by io9, cyberpunk was most popular in the mid-90s, most notably between 1992 and 1995.

Last Episode’s Famous Last Words

Matt: Will Cyberpunk 2077 be the greatest game of all time? Discuss.

… [Cyberpunk] will not be the greatest game of all time. It can’t be, because Chrono Trigger is the greatest game of all time. Period. End of Discussion.
— T

Z: Have the graphics that cyberpunks make improved since the Cyberpunks documentary?

In 27 years of technology, the graphical capabilities of literally everyone improved.
— G

G: How important is the punk to cyberpunk (politically) in 2017?

Cyberpunk was a reaction to the utopian vision of the future.
— G

If sci-fi is humans with technology, then cyberpunk is humans versus technology.
— G

T: Is cyberpunk still a thing? Or is it an aesthetic?

Cyberpunk [now] is an aesthetic because the real world is horrifying!
— T

What did we discuss?

The difficulty of discussing a genre as compared to a fandom ~ transhumanism and its relation to cyberpunk ~ cyberpunk as a reaction to 1950s utopias ~ cyberpunk and rise of tech noir, digital libertarianism ~ is cyberpunk still a thing? ~ cyberpunk and the dystopia that is the modern day ~ cyberpunk as an aesthetic ~ cyberpunk and its individual, human stories ~ technology going too far ~ anti-consumerism and advertising as key piece of cyberpunk

Fans of the week

  

Not quite #TyrellCorp, but still a very profitable company in 2019. ——– #neon #neonsign #BladeRunner #nyc #manhattan #newyork #scifi #cyberpunk

A post shared by Blade Runner Reality (@bladerunnerreality) on

 

In or out

Z is kind of in.

T: It’s a boolean operation! License revoked!
Z: Oh no! I’m contractually obliged to stay in!

  • Z will probably check out Neuromancer, and Snow Crash

G is in.

A good litmus test is how excited I get about the thing doing the research for the thing.
— G

T is in.

When I was looking at some of the things that qualify as cyberpunk or post-cyberpunk I was like, “Yeah! I am all over this!”
— T

Is this the first time since we’ve created the In or Out segment that we’ve all been in?
— G

This week’s spotlight

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Probably the most cyberpunk thing that exists that isn’t awful … it is the resistance: the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
— T

A charity notable in today’s world as it fights for net neutrality, free speech, anonymity, blogger’s rights, fair use, and much, much more.

The Race Against Time

Because we mentioned the greatest game of all time…
— T

Now in its third year of running, the Race Against Time is the Nickscast’s annual charity livestream where we work our way though Chrono Trigger, obtaining all its endings, and also raising money for the Alzheimer Society of Canada. Last year we raised over $1200 CAD, and have plans to surpass that!

This year, the event will be held August 12 through to August 13, starting at 10am ET. You can also subscribe on Twitch.tv/theraceagainsttime in anticipation of the event!

Famous Last Words

This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, Cinephiles!

This is our chance to really screw things up and say something stupid about next week’s topic. We don’t have to, but sometimes it happens.
— T

Z
Is there a movie marathon, cited as a cinephile’s paradise, where people are encouraged to bring in multiple-course meals?

G
Is it important for cinephiles to see movies in the theatre?

T
Are cinephiles really a fandom? Isn’t that just a pretentious title for people who watch movies? Where is the culture? The shared experience and unique terminology?

I am already eating my words; I’ve already preheated them in the oven.
— T

Where can you find us online?

We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:

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  • if you want to reach us, and for some reason none of those work for you, try nick@thenickscast.com
  • You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
  • Everything is thenickscast, so if you can’t find us, go on your social network and search for that!
  • … You’re still looking for ways to reach out? You can also use the hashtag #fanthro on Twitter!

What is “Fanthropological”?

How did you read this far without asking this question?!

Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.

Who is “The Nickscast”?

We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.

Ahem

We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.

We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.

Notable quotes from this episode

We’re here to deliver the eulogy for the MP3. It was fine, I guess.
— G

I thought what I’d do is pretend I was one of those deaf mutes.
— T

T: It’s a dangerous world, this meatspace.
Z: It can get kind of sweaty in meatspace.

Maybe cyberpunk isn’t a fandom, per se. That’s a loaded question to drop so early in the episode!
— T

T: Grrr. Hate it. Hate Cyberpunk! It’s garbage. Send your hate mail to g@thenickscast.com
G: Wait what?!
T: Can’t send it to Z; he’d be all polite about it.

Compared to what was being written in the 80’s, we’re in the future.
— G

We live in cyberpunk.
— T

Today, in real life, and in fiction, we already have plenty of examples of that sort of dystopia.
— T

Tech noir … is a gritty dark reality where you can’t really trust anything except for yourself and your technology.
— Z

Blade Runner is supposed to be Hong Kong on a bad day …
— G

While it is humans versus technology, it’s not really anti-technology, it’s about the spirit behind it. It’s about people going too far with technology.
— G

The appeal of cyberpunk is mostly the idea of an unbreakable link between man and his technology when everything else is untrustworthy.
— Z

… With cyberpunk, it’s more about the individual. … Whereas with transhumanism, it’s more about how technology can help everybody.
— G

Where is rural cyberpunk?
— T

Cyberpunk is supposed to be, in the spirit of dystopia, “this could be us, you guys”!
— G

T: Having cyborgs is not a key component of cyberpunk.
G: …and should not be a key component of the Justice League either.

You could summarize cyberpunk as revolution in the present from the future. The problem with that though is that the future is always changing.
— Z

Why would you have an unadorned wall when you could have an ad there?
— T

I’ll see you in the future where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.
— G

Credits

Sources

Music / Sound

  • All music and sound for this week’s episode were provided by Nick Green!

Artwork

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