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Cyberpunk 2020: A Year in Review for Cyberpunk

 

A Time to Look Back

We are lucky that the end of the year brings us two weeks of holidays, for Christmas and New Year’s, where we can sit down and take a minute to reflect on what the year has brought us. My last Year in Review, for 2019, described the many things that we got to enjoy in the year, along with looking ahead to the future of what 2020 was meant to have in store for us (boy, were we in for a BIG SURPRISE with that one!) While different from 2019 in many ways, 2020 has been a great year for the genre of Cyberpunk in general. On the first few days of 2020 I wrote the following:

“So what does the future hold for Cyberpunk? Something very exciting indeed. Just look at all the great content, announcements and surprises we got from 2019! So while it’s impossible to say what surprise announcements or content we will get, what we can do is predict things that are already in the pipeline and have been announced:

1. Altered Carbon: Season 2 should arrive to Netflix in February 2020, which will start off our year right

2. Cyberpunk 2077 will be released in April, which should really kick the Cyberpunk genre into front and center of pop culture, especially considering it’s in the name of the game itself.

3. Matrix 4 isn’t expected until 2021, but 2020 will bring with it more and more production and casting updates, as well as hopefully story clues, so the production of Matrix 4 will be very fun to watch. Production should begin in February as well.

4. While not exactly Cyberpunk, Denis Villeneuve did an excellent job with Cyberpunk 2049, so his adaption of the science-fiction classic DUNE will be very exciting to see. There may be some cyberpunk elements present, but it should be a mostly science fiction tale.”

Well, Altered Carbon: Season 2 was good, but it didn’t live up to the first season sadly, and then the series itself was cancelled.

Cyberpunk 2077 wasn’t released in April, or September, or November, but finally in December, and while it did well on the PC and next-gen consoles, it had so many game-breaking bugs in the old-gen consoles many gamers demanded refunds and others considered the release a monumental failure.

Matrix 4 is still set for 2021, but instead of a May release date, or an April 2022 release date due to covid, its newest release date is for December 22nd, 2021.

As for Dune, its release was pushed back from December 18th, 2020 to October 1st, 2021. We were able to get a glimpse of the trailer, which looks amazing, but it’s still a long way away.

Meanwhile, we got a lot of other Cyberpunk media in 2020. So come join me, won’t you, as we take a walk down memory lane and look at all the Cyberpunk media that came out in 2020.

February 27th: Altered Carbon Season 2

Cyberpunk in 2020 started off the year with Altered Carbon Season 2, releasing February 27th on Netflix. Compared to Season 1, I noted how the second season felt very toned down, with less torture, violence, and gore. Unlike the source material (Broken angels and Woken Furies, books 2 and 3 in the Takeshi Kovacs Trilogy, respectively) the Netflix series decided to pursue a love story between Takeshi and Quell, for better or for worse. There’s also a lot less gratuitous sex than in the books, a stronger focus on family ties, and generally a lot of missed opportunities with the changes they chose compared to the books. The result is a more wholesome, safe season that probably had a smaller budget but also didn’t wow the audience in any way, and as a result led to the unfortunate cancelling of the series (partly also because of how darn expensive the series was).

February and March: Matrix 4 begins shooting, and the lockdowns begin

Project Ice Cream, AKA Matrix 4, began shooting in February and we were treated to some incredible stunt scenes over skyscrapers and explosions along the city streets in Alameda and San Francisco, California, which I reported in my Matrix 4: 2020 updates post in March. Fortunately, Matrix 4 was able to wrap up all of its primary US shooting before March rolled around. The team were later able to continue shooting in Babelsberg, Germany, although under significantly different conditions

A medical staff member sprays disinfectant at a residential area in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on March 11, 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The end of February was the final normal month as we knew it. We had no idea at the time, but we were about to be hit by the world-changing pandemic known as COVID-19, which would affect media releases, travel, result in thousands of deaths and billions of people affected and forced to rethink their daily habits. The entire world, almost every country, had to learn how to confine, lockdown, or quarantine, an event I discussed in my April post on how dystopian it felt in real time.

March: Altered Carbon: Resleeved and Bloodshot

After Altered Carbon Season 2 came out, we were treated to a Netflix animated film called Altered Carbon: Resleeved. Released on March 19th, the story had fairly good voice actors and story, if you could get past the unusual animation style. It was only 1 hour 14 minutes in duration, so it was pretty short, but had some awesome ninja action scenes. More on our review of Altered Carbon: Resleeved can be found here.

Meanwhile, Bloodshot was meant to be released in theaters, (and maybe it was in some places) but due to the pandemic it was mostly moved to pay on demand. I just recently posted my review and thoughts of this recent quasi-cyberpunk film with Vin Diesel here.

April: The first podcast and the beginning of our Is This Cyberpunk? Series

In April we had our first podcast of the year, an exciting hour-long talk with friend to the blog Lazarus over at NeoMatrixology. In it we discuss the Cyberpunk genre, our first impressions viewing the Matrix for the first time, and many other things.

We also had the first of what would be many different posts in a series called Is This Cyberpunk? where I look at media that could be considered Cyberpunk and offer my thoughts of why or why not they would be considered in the genre. This year we looked at the following movies: The Wolverine, Big Hero 6, Batman Beyond, and Tomorrowland.

April: Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045

Also coming out in April was the next animated Cyberpunk work on Netflix, Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045. Released April 23rd, it comprised 12 20-minute episodes to create a fast-paced, interesting series that decidedly does not finish at the end of its run, suggesting a season 2 was always in the works. Although great parts action and cyber-sleuthing, I noted that it might take a minute to get past the unusual 3D CG animation. Check out my full review of the series here.

June: The beginning of Night City Wire episodes

Night City Wire was a series of what would become 5 promotional short videos to advertise the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, This provided a great opportunity for fans of Cyberpunk to get excited together about what would be available to do in the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 title. When we got it in June it was supposed to come out in September, before it eventually got delayed to November and then finally to December 10th. I personally had a lot of fun tuning into my favorite Cyberpunk content creator on YouTube and seeing their reactions and joining in the chat as thousands of similar fans all watched the wires drop simultaneously. You can check out my breakdown of wire 1, wire 2wire 3 and wires 4-5 plus the special on the blog.

October: World Cyberpunk Day

October 10th, 2020 (or 10.10.2020) was World Cyberpunk Day. Designed to be a free fun #hashtag celebration of all things cyberpunk, it was also meant to promote lesser known Cyberpunk content creators. For my own post of World Cyberpunk Day, I took the opportunity to celebrate all my favorite Cyberpunk media, including both well-known and lesser known content. You can check out all my favorite Cyberpunk picks in all the different categories here.

November: Ready Player Two

On November 24th, Ready Player Two, the sequel to the acclaimed Ready Player Novel, was published By Ernest Cline. After loving the first novel and going to see the film adaptation by Steven Spielberg last year, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. It was a fast-paced page-turner and I finished it in about a week or two, and I highly recommend it. You can check out my full review for the book here.

December: Cyberpunk 2077 finally releases

On December 10th, the fateful day finally arrived. I remember waiting until 2am to download the game, waiting an hour using my slow internet to download the game, and then finally being able to create my character and playing the first 20 minutes of the game (the introduction) before crashing. Unfortunately, despite having downloaded the game previously when I pre-ordered the game, I like thousands of others around the world like me took a really long time in downloading the final pieces in order to make the game playable.

Once I finally was able to play the game…I wish I could say it went swimmingly. Unfortunately, I had a couple bugs that really bothered me during the introduction (like bushes appearing in frames when they were supposed to be outside far away but otherwise, I didn’t have any problems playing the game (although I played on the lowest graphics settings due to the old nature of my gaming laptop). Others, however, weren’t so forgiving with the game, and had much worse bugs. So bad, in fact, that Sony pulled it from their online store, and CD Projekt Red lost millions when they had to offer refunds for the game, sparking disgruntled developers pushing back on management claiming their timelines to get the game out were unrealistic, and even resulting in lawsuits from investors. Nonetheless, I had a great time playing Cyberpunk 2077. I have since finished one of the game’s main storylines, but I still have much more to play. I published an initial review of the game with my first impressions as one of my last posts of 2020 here.

Interviewing the Cyberpunk Community at Cyberpunk Matrix:

Finally, throughout the year, I was able to interview all kinds of great Cyberpunk content creators and see how they got into the genre, as well as what they love about Cyberpunk. Starting with Bradley B, founder of the incredible Cyberpunk website http://www.cyberpunks.com, I later was able to interview all four most popular YouTube Cyberpunk content creators: Madqueen, The Neon Arcade, Last Known Meal, and Triple S League. They also have a mutual community podcast which I often joined on occasion every other Sunday during 2020 as we all mutually waited for Cyberpunk 2077 to release and shared the latest info and hopes for the game.

Cyberpunk Media to Look out for in 2021

Dune

While not exactly cyberpunk, Frank Herbert’s Dune is a science fiction classic and a lot of sci-fi has drawn inspiration from his spice world of Arrakis and the fear-inspiring worms that live there. Considering how great Denis Villeneuve did with Blade Runner 2049, I’m really excited to see this come out next year. It’s also starring a great ensemble cast like  Timothée ChalametRebecca FergusonOscar IsaacJosh BrolinStellan SkarsgårdDave Bautista, Zendaya, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.

Matrix 4

Obviously  what we are most excited for here at Cyberpunk Matrix, and indeed a lot of the inspiration why I created this website in the first place, is the return to the world of The Matrix with Matrix 4. Now that Lana Wachowski and the production team was able to wrap in Germany, it seems like the biggest work in producing Matrix 4 is done. Now comes the step of adding the music, edits, and all the other post production work, before marketing and getting Matrix 4 ready for their release date of December 22nd, 2021. Hopefully that release date won’t be pushed back yet again.

Edgerunners

While all we know about this standalone series from Netflix set in Night City is that it will come out in 2022, hopefully there may be some news about its production to come out in 2021. Similarly, I am looking forward to any and all Cyberpunk 2077 DLC that comes out in 2021 that adds to the already very rich world that CD Projekt Red has created.

Thoughts and Expectations for Cyberpunk in 2021

2020 has been a difficult year for most of humanity. Fortunately I never contracted the virus this year, but I know many friends and family members that did, and it certainly wasn’t easy. We changed out habits, lifestyles, values, perspective on life, because of the virus–it really was a pandemic that will change human history as we know it, developing in front of our eyes in real time. But with all these vaccines rolling out for 2021, the year looks very promising. And with the vaccines will hopefully come a new stability, a new normal that will allow travel and production on all our favorite media to resume again. After 8 long years, Cyberpunk 2077 finally was released, and although its release definitely wasn’t perfect, the stories in Cyberpunk 2077 will now be in the forefront of our modern culture’s mind, with society knowing exactly what a cyberpunk world looks like and what kind of cyberpunks they might encounter in such a world if they played the videogame. Ready Player Two will probably be coming out with Steven Spielberg producing at least, and I wouldn’t be surprised if CD Projekt Red learns from their mistakes and creates another Cyberpunk title, or at the very least more DLC to add to the night city, if what they’ve done with The Witcher 3 is any indication. So goodbye 2020, for all its challenges and change, and welcome 2021. As Panam says, cheers — here’s to what’s yet to come.

Cyberpunk Review: Ready Player Two

Ready Player Two: A solid sequel to Ready Player One

CUTSCENE

Thus is titled the first chapter of Ready Player Two, and aptly put. Ernest Cline’s second book and sequel to Ready Player One (which was also adapted into a movie by Steven Spielberg), Ready Player Two continues the first book with almost no time passing. We find Parzival (Wade Watts) catching us up on what happened immediately after the events of the first novel, and the novel takes its time to get going before a critical event happens that sets the rest of the novel in motion (which happens about a third of the way in).

Ready Player One – Phase9 Entertainment

A Very Fast Read

If you liked the fast-paced nature of Cline’s writing style, then you certainly won’t be disappointed with Ready Player Two. And I think it’s telling that it took me only a week to finish this novel. Although it’s actually 10 pages longer than the previous book (384 pages compared to its original 374 pages), it felt like a much faster read.

Ready Player One»: le grand huit de Steven Spielberg | Télécâble Sat Hebdo

More of the Same Special Sauce

Some people may criticize this novel by saying it’s too much of a repeat of the first novel, or that it’s not different enough. And while I can see those complaints, I personally really enjoyed this novel. After you finally get to the chapter called Level Five and you  finally discover the conflict that needs to be resolved in this book, the entire book speeds up very quickly in a race against time that is even more intense than the previous novel was. That’s perhaps why the novel felt slower than the previous one for the first third, and then much faster for the other two thirds. We find all of the same original characters, like Shoto and Art3mis, are back.

Every Easter Egg in 'Ready Player One'

Another Quest, Another Easter Egg Hunt

This time the quest, which is very similar to the first novel, is the following:

Seek the Seven Shards of the Siren’s Soul…to once again make the Siren Whole.

The seven shards of the siren’s soul is yet another easter egg hunt left posthumously by one of the Gregarious Games’ co-founders, James Halliday. The difference between this one and the 3 keys hunt, however, is that there is no clear prize for obtaining the seven shards. What, or who, is the Siren’s Soul? What happens when someone makes them Siren whole again? This is the original premise of the novel until the aforementioned villian appears and kickstarts the book into high gear with a very short, very urgent, countdown.

For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won’t add any more than that. Simply remember that if you feel the novel isn’t going anywhere, continue reading until page 134.

I enjoyed this easter egg quest, but not as much as the previous book’s quest, probably because this time around it’s a little less video game-focused, favoring other pop culture references instead. This book focuses a lot on the female character Kira Morrow as well, which was a welcome change of pace.

New Thought-Provoking Technology

For Ready Player One, I talked briefly in this blog post a couple years ago about the educational significance that Ready Player One’s utopian vision of teaching could have on our future education systems. At the time that Ernest Cline published Ready Player One back in 2011, I felt that the technology he described of virtual reality with haptic rigs in the OASIS was pretty futuristic, along with that educational system that went with it. Is the OASIS an improvement for humanity, as people can escape their stark surroundings and live in a happier world, a kinder and less hostile world, as Wade did growing up poor in the stacks? Or is the OASIS a dangerous fantasy world that results in greater isolation of humans and makes them lose touch with what’s important–the real world, and reality in general?

Just like his first novel, Cline describes a new technology that changes the world, for better or for worse, and then describes a utopian vision of what this technology could be used for. This new technology, if you can believe it, makes the VR haptic rig systems look downright Neanderthal by comparison. Cline also takes a much more heavy-handed look at whether this new technology should be used, by having the main characters begin to argue amongst themselves about this issue (it becomes a major point in the story). Unfortunately, Cline more or less answers that question for the reader by the end of the novel, which…I wish he would have left it a little more open-ended, but ultimately I’m not complaining about the ending, which I thought otherwise was great. It’s still epic, and in that way similar to the previous novel.

The new technology also, however, invites further questions about the nature of humanity and that age-old, cyberpunk trope of how human artificial intelligence is, and what rights and considerations (if any) they deserve. While only invitations to questions are presented in the book (Cline decides to just briefly comment on this new tech, saying it’s a new age but deciding not to go any deeper than that) it’s a situation well worth considering. After some time has elapsed I may later post a spoiler-filled post where I can go into these topics in a bit more detail, but I won’t be doing so here as it would understandably completely spoil the novel for those who have yet to read it.

Overall Verdict: 8.5/10

I really enjoyed this novel. To say it was a page-turner would be an understatement. With fun dialogue, relatable characters, loads of references, an interesting story, and thought-provoking technology when its implications are considered, there’s a lot to love. However, there were parts of the novel where it dragged, and others where I felt myself losing interest (especially in parts of the quests) where I either wasn’t familiar with the material, or the quest felt trivial when framed against the backdrop of what was at stake, and the urgency of their quest with the clock running out. I also felt like the characters themselves didn’t grow much and could have had a bit more development–one character’s actions and motivations in particular. Finally, if you really like John Hughes movies, Prince, and the Lord of the Rings universe, you will particularly like this book.

Questioning Reality: Revisiting The Thirteenth Floor | Filmotomy

Final note: favorite Cyberpunk line in the book

My favorite Cyberpunk line by far in the book surprised me as early as page 4. It’s actually not just a line, but an entire paragraph. Here it is in its entirety below, and if you’re a Cyberpunk fan like I am, then it’s a great reference and also perhaps a reminder that, oh yea, I should probably watch those again.

“According to the interactive building directory on my phone, the thirteenth floor was where the GSS archives were located.

Of course Halliday had put them there. In one of his favorite TV shows, Mad Headroom, Network 23’s hidden research-and-development lab was located on the thirteenth floor.

And The Thirteenth Floor was also the title of an old sci-fi film about virtual reality, released in 1999, right on the heels of both The Matrix and eXistenZ.” –Wade Watts

 

Cyberpunk Review: Count Zero by William Gibson

Cyberpunk Review: Count Zero

Well, I finally finished it.

Count Zero by William Gibson is book two in the Sprawl trilogy, three loosely connected books sharing the same universe. Count Zero is a sequel to the titular Neuromancer and is followed by Mona Lisa Overdrive.

I felt like Count Zero went over my head a bit, but also, it felt like the kind of book that you really need to pay attention to in order to understand and consequently enjoy, and if you have a busy life or a short attention span like I do, then maybe it isn’t for you. The main difference between Count Zero and Neuromancer is that instead of following one main character, there are three separate main characters, with seemingly disconnected plotlines that eventually weave together at the very end (and I mean very end).

New Cyberpunk Characters

Bobby Newmark (Count Zero)

Bobby is a young aspiring console cowboy, wanting to prove his worth when he quickly finds himself in over his head when he’s given a biosoft chip to evaluate that almost kills him when he jacks into cyberspace. His story is a more standard Cyberpunk tale that we are perhaps more familiar with after Neuromancer.

Marly Krushkova

Marly is a has-been art gallery curator in Paris who suffered a small scandal when she unwittingly sold a very expensive piece of art that ended up being a fake. She ends up being hired by a wealthy arts patron to uncover the creator of “art-boxes”, and is given an unlimited line of credit to do so. Her story is more of an unraveling mystery, in a film-noir style.

Turner

Turner is an ex-mercenary who is brought back from retirement to help organize the defection of a high-value employee who wants to leave his current mega-corporation and join another. His story is more action-packed than the other two.

Story

And what is the book about? Well, these three characters and their own private missions and life paths, I guess. When the biosoft chip bobby is given almost kills him, he ends up on the run from those who want to take the chip for themselves, while trying to get the chip into the hands of whomever can make Bobby safe again.

As for Marly, she is given the opportunity of a lifetime–an almost no-strings attached unlimited credit line to help a wealthy benefactor find the creator of certain works of art-boxes. Unfortunately, this wealthy benefactor is also known for his egotistical, nefarious ways.

Finally, Turner’s multi-layered mission ends up going completely differently than planned, as an unexpected attack and surprise pieces come into play. We largely follow Turner as he adapts to the ever-changing conditions of his misson, as he tries to stay alive.

Cyberpunk Dialogues and Descriptions

Gibson once again showcases his brilliant skill at painting an image of these characters with his knack for dialogue. This time around I felt his descriptions were even better than before, with a little less dialogue compared to Neuromancer. The three settings are Japan, the US, and France, but the characters eventually move around a bit.

“And, for an instant, she stared directly into those soft blue eyes and knew, with an instinctive mammalian certainty, that the exceedingly rich were no longer even remotely human.”–Marly Krushkova

Critique

The problem I had with this novel is that Gibson likes writing as if we understand what he’s talking about (my same small issue with Neuromancer), and part of his appeal is figuring out what indeed he’s talking about and recognizing the puzzle pieces he carefully lays out for us. If you don’t get those puzzle pieces, or you simply don’t want to play the game, then you may lose interest in this novel, as I did. While Marly’s narrative had very few moving pieces and was very easy to follow, the other two, Turner and Bobby’s narratives, often had enough characters coming and going that I had a difficult time following what was going on. I also felt like I missed a lot of these references and allusions, which led me to being confused a lot of the time.

Lack of Connection

My biggest problem with the story, however, is that there is no clear goal that the three characters are working towards. It was easy for me to put this book down because at the end of the day, I simply didn’t care if these characters lived or died, and that’s usually a problem when reading a book. There was no connection built between me and these characters, and while they eventually do have a little character development by the end of the story to make them interesting, it wasn’t enough to keep me hooked.

Final Verdict: 6/10

Because of its great descriptions, dialogue, and the subtle hints that are very enjoyable to catch, this novel may delight some. However, for me, it was slow, confusing, and without any clear end goal to want me to keep reading and lacked a clear connection with the characters I was reading about. Nonetheless, as a second novel in the sprawl trilogy, and if you are a fan of William Gibson, I can definitely recommend this book.

World Cyberpunk Day

World Cyberpunk Day

In case you missed it, October 10th, 2020 (or 10.10.2020) was the world’s first official Cyberpunk Day!

Created by a coalition of Cyberpunk creators and fans, Cyberpunk Day was conceived to  help others discover new cyberpunk content like books, comics, shows, movies, and art. The team includes such creators as award-nominated author Anna Mocikat, cyberpunk writer Matthew Goodwin, and many more.

With a full schedule of events, Cyberpunk day was a day unlike any other, where people around the world could follow @cyberpunkday on Twitter to get all the links for the events as they happened every hour, on the hour. Events included live readings, live gameplay, panel discussions, presentations, and even a live viewing of Total Recall! I wonder what they will have planned for next year.

Celebrating Favorite Cyberpunk Media for World Cyberpunk Day

To celebrate everything Cyberpunk for World Cyberpunk Day, I thought I’d share my own favorite Cyberpunk media pieces, in addition to shining a light on some of my favorite, lesser known Cyberpunk content creators,  writers, and websites. So come celebrate Cyberpunk with your operator, here in the Cyberpunk Matrix.

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Cyberpunk Media

  1. The Matrix (the trilogy and the animatrix) by The Wachowskis
  2. Ghost in the Shell (the original anime and live action remake, as well as the animated series) by Masamune Shirow (writer), Mamoru Oshii (anime film director) and Rupert Sanders (live action director).
  3. Battle Angel Alita (the manga known as GUNNM, as well as the anime movie and the live action film) by Yukito Kishiro (writer), Hiroshi Fukutomi (anime film director), and Robert Rodriguez (live action director).
  4. Altered Carbon (the novel, the Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, and both seasons on Netflix) by Richard K Morgan (writer) and Laeta Kalogridis (Netflix series director).
  5. Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve
  6. Ready Player One (both the book and the live action film) by Ernest Cline (writer) and Steven Spielberg (director).
  7. Upgrade by Leigh Whannell

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Community Content Creators

  1. Madqueen–Madqueen has her own Madqueen show on YouTube, where she provides the latest news on the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game, as well as lore and information about the Cyberpunk Red Tabletop RPG. She provides an insane amount of work editing and creating very original content, and also assists in weekly podcasts with other community content creators. You can learn more about MadQueen in my exclusive interview with her here on Cyberpunk Matrix.
  2. Neoskies–now more on Instagram than anywhere else, Neoskies is the mind behind The Cyberpunk Hive, a place for reviews, polls, and fun discussions about anything cyberpunk. For more on where Neoskies finds her inspiration, check out my interview with her here.
  3. NeoMatrixology–For a yellow-pilled approach to understanding everything to do with the Matrix, I always consult NeoMatrixology and his Matrix University series. While I tend to report Matrix news in batches when major things happen, NeoMatrixology is always first to report the latest news relating to the Matrix, no matter how big or small. He also has lots of high-quality, in-depth analysis on the philosophy and themes present within the Matrix Universe. We also had a really interesting hour-long discussion about his inspiration, beginnings, and our first Matrix viewing experiences which you can check out in our podcast here.

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Cyberpunk websites

  1. Neon Dystopia–if ever you wanted in-depth, scholarly articles about all kinds of Cyberpunk content, look no further than Neon Dystopia. This is also where I first went the day I discovered the Cyberpunk genre. Covering philosophy, fashion, movies, music, video games, and news, Neon Dystopia doesn’t post as often as some other blogs, but when they do it’s always very in-depth and interesting. Neon Dystopia was also one of the first Cyberpunk websites I shared about, back in March 2018.
  2. Cyberpunks.com–Cyberpunks has the highest amount of content of all cyberpunk websites I’ve seen to date on the ‘net. Going less in depth as Neon Dystopia but providing far more content, including also the occasional video, Cyberpunks provides articles and essays about all Cyberpunk genres–movies, tv shows, music, news, technology, video games, etc. It also has reviews, lists, recommendations–you name it, Cyberpunks has it! For more about the ambitious creator behind this incredible website, check out my interview with its founder Bradley B. here.

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Up-and-Coming Cyberpunk Book

Into Neon by Matthew Goodwin–Book 1 of the ThutoCo trilogy, Into Neon describes how the main character Moss discovers his corporate work and life is not as it seems, and how he escapes to join a rebel punk alliance intent on bringing down the megacorporations that prey on the helpless. For more about my thoughts on this book, check out my review here.

World Cyberpunk Day: Favorite Cyberpunk Video Game

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon by Ubisoft

If you ask most Cyberpunk fans what their favorite Cyberpunk game is, they will probably answer System Shock, Shadowrun, or Deus Ex. While I haven’t played System Shock (it’s a little dated to play now unless you have that nostalgia factor) or Shadowrun (a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, think blade runner meets LOTR from what I’ve heard), I have actually played Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Unfortunately, I felt both Deus Ex games were a lot more stealth and RPG-focused for my tastes, with the gameplay considerably less fun than the usual fast-paced First Person Shooters I usually go for. Considering I’m a FPS player at heart, it should come with no surprise that Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is actually my favorite Cyberpunk video game of all time (at least, until Cyberpunk 2077 comes out). Sold as a stand-alone expansion to Far Cry 3 (another favorite FPS game of mine), FC3: Blood Dragon is a hilarious, over-the-top parody of 1980s action films featuring corny lines, fast paced action, dragons shooting laser beams, and cyborg ninjas.

Your Favorites

So what are your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

Review: Into Neon: A Cyberpunk Saga

Into neon cover

Into Neon: A Cyberpunk Saga

Into Neon is the first in the ThutoCo Cyberpunk Saga trilogy by author Matthew A. Goodwin, available on Amazon in paperback for $10 or on Kindle for less than $2.

Goodwin’s own moniker for his book, a Cyberpunk Saga, is a pretty good description of this book in and of itself. Into Neon feels like a perfect match for the genre that it markets itself in. With a simple, straightforward story filled with a giant evil corporation, a rag-tag team of dissenting punks trying to bring it down, neon lights and body augmentations, Into Neon fits right in.

The Premise

Moss lives a fairly simple life in Burb 2152. He has a couple friends, works with his drudge — an automaton with advanced AI that can be controlled remotely while still have a programmable personality — and is happy living under the benevolent watch of ThutoCo. That is, until one day a stranger walks into his hex and changes his life forever. He learns that ThutoCo is not as it seems, and that his help is needed. What comes next is a tale of discovery, adventure, and courage. All with a shiny Neon sheen.

Characters

Moss has two friends who live in his burb, Gibbs, a colorful yet friendly character always lusting after women that pass by, and Issy, a flirty yet hard working police officer. Goodwin creates a fun interaction between these three friends. Next we have the crew outside the burb, with many characters including Ynna and Burn. Both competent, dedicated characters with very colorful descriptions, these characters I felt were well written as well.While Gibbs and Moss have a more youthful, naive air about them (since they both come from the pampered, isolated corporate burb) Burn and Ynna have a much harder, grittier edge to them. However, sometimes I felt like they missed a bit of depth, and couple have been fleshed out a little more. Which very well might be possible in the subsequent novels.

Complexity

Into Neon’s story is incredibly straightforward, which is a huge contrast to novels from the likes of, say, William Gibson. It depends on your reading style, but for me personally this resulted in an easy, page-turning read that I quite enjoyed. With language or a plot that’s too complicated, or no clear goal in the story as is sometimes the case of other writers, Goodwin’s novel is like a breath of fresh, cyberpunk-processed air. No nonsense, just a simple, fun, straightforward Cyberpunk tale.

Final Verdict: 7/10

Goodwin kept a good pace in his novel, and both the action and emotion in the story were good, but again, nothing extraordinary here. Into Neon is a solid cyberpunk novel that checks all the boxes. Goodwin has crafted a fun new world with interesting new technology. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of transhumanism (body augmentations), the way people in this world are so readily willing to give up human limbs in favor of artificial ones, and the process of getting such an augmentation was one that felt real enough that I could see it happen in the non-too-distant future. This novel was a solid, fun cyberpunk novel, and although nothing in particular stands out it’s a great cyberpunk saga and an easy read, and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to spend a fun neon-filled evening with an exciting page-turner. You can also check out more from Matthew Goodwin on his blog, ThutoWorld.com.