I was reading through the latest draft of "Kill, Cyborgs! Kill!" the Cyberpunk adventure I'm working on, and there is something missing, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Mechanically, I'm happy with the system, the overall structure, and the story are pretty good. So what's missing?
Then my long overdue Amazon order came in, including William Gibson's "Neuromancer". A few chapter's in it hit me. KCK doesn't have that Cyberpunk bite.
The Horror genre plays with your emotions, eliciting uneasiness, foreboding, and fear. Good Cyberpunk stories do something similar. It's not quite techno-horror. It's something more subtle, pushing just beyond what we consider to be a healthy relationship with Technology, presenting portraits that leave a gurgling uneasiness in the pit of our bellies:
- A tough Street Samurai with surgically implanted mirrorshades, ostensibly so that she can see in the dark, but more importantly, they keep anyone from looking into her eyes. Because if anyone did look into her eyes, if they saw what she feels in the depths of her soul, it would all be over...
- An ex-hacker, more at home in cyberspace than in reality, but chemically neutered so that he can no longer log in, leaving him in permanent exile.
- A small-time shoplifter who finds meaning in life though competitive video games and through love. Ultimately he chooses the former over the latter and ends up with nothing.
- A dolphin, made hyper-intelligent and fixed up with hi-tech scanning gear for the war. Now that it's over, he sits in dirty tank, doing illegal scanning work to pay for his drug habit.
- Gang of street kids whose tech-worship to more and more bizarre, inhuman body modifications, pushing them more and more to the edge of society.
- A mysterious criminal, apparently ex-special forces, one of the few survivors of a well known suicide mission. Now he is anonymous, his face a mask of generic plastic surgery, his intentions inscrutable.
- A teenage girl, obsessed with becoming the next reality star, she'll sink to any depth to earn the credits for the tech she'll need to realize that dream. But the deeper she sinks, the greater the chance she'll be lost forever...
- A man who has himself cloned as a female. He raises her as a daughter, then they become lovers. Nuff said.
- A crime lord well over 200 years old. Preserved by technology, but neutered by age. Inhumanly cunning, inhumanly uncaring for anything except well tailored vintage replica suits.
Such Pathos, such Unease, such borderline plausibility, such Truth! I frickin' love Cyberpunk! Now, back to the writing table...