Category Archives: Interviews

Interviews of the Cyberpunk Community & Artists

Interview with Cyberpunk Creator The Neon Arcade

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Up Close and Personal with Cyberpunk 2077 Content Creator The Neon Arcade

The Neon Arcade is a YouTube content creator with almost 50k subscribers on YouTube. Focusing solely on the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077 video game, he describes his channel as a destination for news, lore, details, analysis, game play, and eventually playthroughs when the game comes out in November.

“Look forward to high quality and informative guides, how-tos, and tips & tricks for YOU GUYS so that you can get the upper hand in the oppressive and treacherous world of NIGHT CITY!”–The Neon Arcade

The Neon Arcade is perhaps one of the best sources of information on the Cyberpunk 2077 video game, breaking down history, classes, playthrough styles, and much more. But who exactly is The Neon Arcade, and what can he tell us about the Cyberpunk genre? Let’s find out.

How did you get introduced to Cyberpunk (the genre)?

I got introduced to the Cyberpunk genre mainly because of my interest in philosophy, psychology, and cerebral films, oddly enough. I was googling some mind-bending movies to watch many years ago and I stumbled upon Ghost In The Shell. I couldn’t say I was a huge anime fan, but the art style looked subdued enough where it seemed more approachable and accessible to me, and something about the name and synopsis drew me in. I watched it and absolutely loved it; it was one of those movies you just thought about a lot in the subsequent days after viewing, and it made a lasting impression on me. At the time I had no idea there was such a thing as the Cyberpunk genre or that it even fit into that category, I just thought it was a really awesome dystopian city of the future / cerebral thriller-type movie. I honestly don’t remember how I stumbled upon the genre as a whole, but It must have been after I watched Akira a few years after, and then was re-introduced to Cyberpunk 2077 at E3 2018. I had seen the Cyberpunk 2077 teaser in 2013, but it wasn’t until after I watched movies in the genre unknowingly that it came full circle in 2018 and I started doing my research and found out there was a label for the genre as a whole.

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2. What made you decide to start The Neon Arcade? When did it start? And how did it become what it is today?

I started the Neon Arcade because I’m always doodling and thinking of ideas or drawing logos for brands I make up in my head, and just letting my imagination run wild. I remember doodling an idea for a gaming channel on a piece of paper at school with something that sounded good but was also apparent that it was a gaming channel. I was thinking of how retro arcades we used to have when I was a kid were kind of passé and the name stemmed from that. I initially really wanted to do overwatch and halo content for the channel, and even a divergent psychology and health channel, but when I stumbled upon Cyberpunk, I instantly fell in love with what I thought was the perfect combination of an open world and cyberpunk themes. It replicated the same feeling I got watching Ghost In The Shell, but I was much more excited because I knew there would be so much more to it since it was in a video game format that you can come back to again and again and have a different experience. I became really passionate about not only making the best, most in-depth and straight-to-the-point Cyberpunk content I could, but also working on best SEO practices to get my hard work out there. It seems to have worked great so far, and it really challenges my enthusiasm for being a “story-teller” as well as a marketer. My best choice was doubling down on Cyberpunk though. Not only am I obsessed with the world, the lore, the characters and anything I can get a grip on, but I can share that with a smart, vibrant community who loves to talk about the dark future. It’s really been an amazing year and a half-ish on YouTube.

3. Where do you get your ideas / inspiration for your videos?

The Cyberpunk lore and world is so rich that it does make it easy, but I definitely write down all the ideas for videos I have. I spend most of my day day-dreaming about edits and my scripts, and what kind of video I would want to watch that isn’t really available for Cyberpunk. Many times I’ll read a lore snippet from Cyberpunk 2020 and get inspired, or I’ll notice something in a demo which will make me want to frame by frame a section and get really deep. Other times it’s making a concise more journalistic straight to the point informative video. It really depends on me. Research is also a big one. Since I do so much on Cyberpunk 2077 specifically, I feel like I can weave all the smaller details into the bigger ones to paint a more comprehensive picture. It goes back to storytelling and getting everything across to your audience. I take a lot of joy in that, as I do augmenting my edits to match what I’m saying to keep people interested. No one wants to watch a boring edit that drones on and on. If my videos are longer, I try to pack them with substance.

4. What are your top three Cyberpunk works, and why?

First would be Ghost In The Shell for the introduction to the genre, 2nd would be Cyberpunk 2020 because of the sheer amount of painstaking detail in the thousands of pages of lore, and 3rd would likely be The Matrix because I watched that when I was probably 6 which predates my Ghost In The Shell viewing, even if it doesn’t scream pure Cyberpunk genre to me as much. Neo was my favorite character ever when I first saw that movie when it released, and voila Keanu is Silverhand in 2077. Again Cyberpunk hits all the right notes for me even in the casting.

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5.What are your thoughts on the Cyberpunk 2077 gameplay that we’ve seen so far?

The gameplay has really wowed me so far. The 48-minute demo was incredible. the density, the open world, the colors, the sounds, the immersion, the gangs, the factions. It was all on point and just how I was picturing it in the mind’s eye after reading the initial impressions from E3 2018. I won’t lie that the Deep Dive didn’t quite illicit that same reaction from me, but I was still blown away in other areas, mainly in the skills and playstyles available. The netrunning sequences to cyberspace and the quick hacks really pushed me more into respecting the netrunners skill set, although I still think I will predominantly pick solo-centric physical skill when I get my hands on the game. All in all I haven’t been this excited for a game since Halo 3 in 2007. Playing The Witcher 3 years ago and following CDPR years after has really opened my eyes to how special and dialed in this studio is. There’s gotta be something in the vodka over there. Polish “polish” should be a new buzzword in gaming like German engineering was in automobiles when it came to German craftsmanship.

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6. Can you describe the world and its factions a little bit, for people who are unfamiliar?

Of course! The World of Cyberpunk is an extrapolation of our world, if things go wrong; it’s also a social commentary on our current reality. High Tech, low life is the motto for many Cyberpunk works, and in many ways Cyberpunk 2077 is a distillation of this. Overtly powerful megacorporations, roaming and disillusioned gangs, the elimination of the middle class, cybernetics becoming as common place as a wristwatch, are all mixed with the despair, turmoil and angst that comes with this dark future. Ethics, morals, the sanctity of the human body and mind have fallen at the wayside to corruption and the need to make a buck to survive.  Gangs of all sorts are prominent on the streets, as well as feuding corporations via more covert means. Addiction comes in the form of braindance, the net and augmenting the body with too much chrome. Edgerunners or mercenaries take a variety of jobs from fixers, to make a quick eddie, at varying degrees of risk. The world is unstable economically, socially, politically and even environmentally due to years of abuse of power and of the earth. It’s just hellish for those at the bottom and glitz and glamour for those at the top. There is little to no upward mobility for the poor, and the people in power will make sure of this. It’s called the Dark Future for a reason.

 

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7. How did you come to join the community podcast, and what is it like being one of the 4 each week?

I was approached to join the community Podcast by Syb and MadQueen. They had been working together for a while and occasionally with LastKnownMeal and I had maybe 10k subscribers at the time I was approached. It’s funny because when I had around 10 subs I reached out to LKM and MQ to connect since I had been watching a lot of their videos and to suggest a collaboration in the future. I suppose I was confident that I would grow to the point where that was justified. I doubt they remember the DMs though, but it was funny when they reached out to me first after that. I guess they had found me and started watching and enjoying my videos. I’m an introvert by nature so the thought of having to talk for hours was a challenge, but I promised myself when it came to creating content and really doing what I loved I wouldn’t say no to any opportunities no matter how uncomfortable they made me feel. It was difficult at first, because not only had I never really talked to the crew outside the podcast other than MadQueen, but we are also from all over the world. Sometimes the language barrier between Euro and North American vocab is a sticking point, but I think we’ve done well so far. I’m having a lot of fun talking to these guys every week. They’re not only amazing creators in their own rights, but they are genuine down to earth and passionate people as well. As a bonus we get to talk to developers from CDPR from time to time on there too, so it’s really good for the community as well, and to meet the workhorses behind the games to get some insight. I still get burnt out at the end of a long podcast, but it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made so far in my YouTube “career”

8. Final question: What does Cyberpunk mean to you?

Cyberpunk has given me a creative outlet to talk about a universe that offers me not only escapism but can also ground me with how it’s a snapshot of our potential future. It allows me to do creative work and allows me to appreciate the beautiful and well-crafted stories in the 2020 and 2077 universe in particular, but also sit with myself and ask all the hypothetical real world applicable questions that come with reading a work of fiction that has tangible research and foresight behind it. It coalesces my passion for technology, self-actualization, psychology and vibrant escapist worlds. I really hope to see more Cyberpunk works that pave a unique route for itself, and rely less on some of the old school tropes.  That’s probably a pretty hippy answer, but I’m sticking with it haha.

 

Interview With Cyberpunk Creator MadQueen

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Getting to know Cyberpunk Creator The Mad Queen

According to her Twitter and Instagram bio, Mad Queen is a gifted napper, speculative fiction lover, professional hype builder, and an expert in Cyberpunk 2077 lore. She also creates some incredible content about the Cyberpunk genre, specifically the upcoming CD Projekt Red video game Cyberpunk 2077, on her YouTube channel where she has over 24k subscribers. She also has a Patreon page where fans can help support her work. But who exactly is this Mad Queen, and what can she share about the Cyberpunk genre? Read on, console cowboy.

1. How did you get introduced to Cyberpunk?

Science Fiction has always been very present in my family, my mother loved science fiction so I had lots of Arthur C. Clark and Asimov books at home to read when I was a kid, even though I was too young to understand what science fiction is really about. My father, on the other hand, had a huge collection of books called “Great Mysteries of Humanity” or something like that, they were the style of the History channel, authors like JJ Benitez and the likes, it’s funny because when I was a kid I thought mixing science fiction with real life was an artistic style, like some sort of mockumentary, it took me a lot of years to discover there were people that actually believed this may be possible: Aztec temples, pyramids, the Moáis… You know, if white people couldn’t build structures like this back then, probably it was aliens and not Aztecs or Egyptians.

In the specifics of cyberpunk I discovered one day when I was a kid my father’s collection of a magazine called 1984, that later was renamed to Zone 84. This magazine released each months episodes of comic books mostly based in Science Fiction and Cyberpunk, and my favorite was Judge Dredd. I obviously had to read it in secret since my parents wouldn’t allow me to read comics with so much sex and violence on them. A little later, the local TV of where I grew up reached an agreement with a Japanese anime distributor, and they started to fill their air time with lots of Anime. Differently to almost anywhere else in the West, were television focused on anime for kids, our TV was filled with great adult anime classics, so I got to discover the great Cyberpunk classics Ghost in the Shell and Akira. I soon started to like Cyberpunk way more than any other branch of science fiction because in the Golden Age and New Wave (not counting Ursula K. Le Guin, who had a strong anthropological background) the future societies described weren’t in general much different to the one we live in, and no other branch was as impactful as Cyberpunk for me.

Basically my whole childhood prepared me for when later, in school, a friend of mine would come with the Cyberpunk 2020 basic sourcebook and say “This game looks good, want to give it a try?”.

2. What made you decide to start The Madqueen Show? When did it start? And how did it become what it is today?

When I started my channel I was totally obsessed with building in fallout 4. At that time I had an “artistic” job but, to be honest, the creativity that I could develop there was almost non-existant so I kind of compensated this lack by building in Fallout 4. I shared my buildings on Reddit and soon people started to ask how to recreate structures that I put in my buildings so I started a YouTube channel to be able to explain it better for the people at Reddit. The first week, when I was just starting, I did a video with variants of a structure that a very popular Fallout 4 YouTuber did, and he liked my variations so much that he talked about me in his videos and I got a thousand followers in my first week. Back then I wasn’t taking the channel seriously, it was just a hobby to relax after work, nor was I able to put more time on it as I crunched a lot.

Some time after that I had a very stupid accident and it took me a year to be able to walk again. On the one hand I had a lot of time to reflect on my life choices and I left my job. On the other, I had an insane time as I was at home and I wasn’t able to walk, so I started to do more YouTube videos. At one point, I discovered the existence of the Cyberpunk 2077 video game, based on a Pen and Paper game I loved, and I went crazy. I started to talk about it all the time because I wanted people to understand why was it going to be so awesome, and I became the first YouTube channel focused on Cyberpunk 2077 exclusively (well, almost exclusively), and I was moderately successful on it. I wasn’t taking it very seriously back then, I had the idea of moving to London and get an Art Direction position similar to the one I left behind, but I was always hesitant as I doubted I would get a chance to develop any kind of creativity in “commercial art”. Although positions like this are usually very well paid, money doesn’t make you happy. At least, it doesn’t make me happy. So I went on with the YouTube channel learning new skills to be able in the future to do more creative things based on the Cyberpunk universe, and I opened my Patreon page, I was overwhelmed by the support and, with this, I could go full time. Unfortunately, my personal situation started to get worse and worse and, at one point, for personal reasons I thought about going back to my original plan of getting an Art Direction position and thought about closing my channel for good, I took a 4 months break to decide what was I going to do. After this break, someone I respect a lot gave me the kick in the butt I needed to really focus on what I was doing and really take it to another level or die trying. I would say this is exactly the point where my channel became what it is today, a mix between totally changing my personal situation and a needed kick in the butt.

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3. I’ve noticed that your YouTube videos have a really high production quality. How did you become so good at making them?

If you really want to make something, you will find your way. Nothing substitutes the force of will: not money, not skills, not even talent. If you really want to do something, you’ll find the way to do it.

That’s how people become good in whatever they are doing. And I just couldn’t (and can’t) stop doing what I can’t help doing. So I just learned how to do it, and I still am, I have a lot to learn.

4. Where do you get your ideas /inspiration for your videos?

I’m a brainstorming machine: I have a notepad filled with ideas for videos, the half of which most probably I won’t be able to develop because I have only two hands, and I’m constantly creating new. People who visit my channel tend to tell me that I’m very open-minded, and this is the key: how you see life is how you generate ideas, because, in the end, everything is possible and if you don’t have an open mind and listen to people on different backgrounds to yours you limit yourself and create a tunnel vision that doesn’t allow you to generate original ideas because your own personal universe is very limited. It’s not about thinking out of the box, is realizing there is no box in the first place, you just created this box to find a space that is mentally comfortable, but if you always stay where it’s comfortable you will never do anything interesting.

I also have a huge audiovisual and artistic baggage, which is very important as well.

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5. What are your top three Cyberpunk works, and why?

Mind Players by Pat Cadigan would be the first. Is not as complex as other Cyberpunk works regarding structure, thematically is very complex but Cadigan has a mastery for words that not even William Gibson can match, so is much more comfortable to read than other classics like Neuromancer, for this reason I always recommend this book to people that want to introduce themselves to the Cyberpunk genre for the first time. Is has the warmth and humanity that other Cyberpunk works don’t have, although some people consider it to be post-Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk worlds are cold, threatening, and unforgiving, but they’re ultimately filled with people and although coldness may emerge when people are fighting for their lives, people still have a heart. And, no, the story is not romantic, I don’t mean that kind of heart.

The film adaptation of Ghost in The Shell by Mamory Oshii is a masterpiece, that ultimately show people will still be people no matter what technology they have available. Way more serious than the comic books, which I honestly appreciate. The mix of opposites of, on the one hand, talking about what it means to be human in a world where humanity and technology are merged and, on the other, the political means of those who are in control of such technology is splendid. Too bad the live action remake failed to understand most of it and only explored the visuals which is funny, as it wasn’t Ghost in the Shell, was only the Shell.

A Scanner Darkly is a masterpiece, both the Philip K. Dick book and the Richard Linklater film adaptation (starring Keanu Reeves, by the way). It’s technically not Cyberpunk, mostly proto-cyberpunk, written in this stage of Philip K. Dick’s life where he was taking a lot of drugs and it took a toll on his surroundings, so the technology that is impacting on the setting of this story is a synthetic drug created from a plant, that, as cybernetic technology, makes the protagonist wonder about his humanity. Also the right amount of politics centered on manufacturing a threat to use it as excuse to control the population, because this is Cyberpunk and the Cyberpunk genre is and has always been strongly political. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be called “punk”.

Cyberpunk 2077 questions:

6.  I’ve noticed you have a lot of videos about Cyberpunk 2077 lore. Can you explain where the Cyberpunk 2077 universe comes from, and what has happened in the history of the universe (like the end of the Net between 2020 and 2077).

Cyberpunk 2077 is inspired by, and follows the timeline of, the pen and paper game Cyberpunk by Mike Pondsmith, published by his company R. Talsorian Games, and it’s a parallel universe to ours that started to diverge in the late 80s. It’s hard to explain the whole timeline of events from 1989 to 2077 in some lines, as a lot happened, but let’s say that the climate change (and the lack of policies by the governments of the world to combat it), the world stock market crash provoked by an organization headed by the CIA that took control of the government of the Sates and the corruption of civil servants that needed the money of megacorporations to survive, provoked a slow economic and environmental apocalypse, so slow people didn’t even noticed until it was already here and changed the world order. This new world order included a society so heavily focused on extreme capitalism that megacorporations acquired the absolute power and the people of the street level do whatever they can to survive, as they mean nothing to anyone. But some people try to escape the control of the megacorps and think by themselves, called the Edgerunners or Cyberpunks, although they’re powerless and they know it. They believe in social upheaval to fight the economic powers, but while they daydream with anarchy they do what they can to survive.

7.  You are one of the few Youtubers providing videos in Spanish. Do you also have videos/subtitles in Spanish and Catalan? And why is it important for you that videos be available in languages that aren’t only English?

My videos are available in English, Spanish, German, and some in Polish. I started adding Spanish subtitles as people around me in real life, who don’t speak English well enough to follow the videos as their main languages are Spanish and Catalan, wanted to see what I did. German subtitles came because a German follower wanted the videos to be available for people around them, same with Polish subtitles, although not all Cyberpunk videos are available in Polish. The rest are added by the community. In the end, only the Spanish subtitles were my idea, the rest are my community’s idea, and I think it’s great, this way people can learn about the Cyberpunk lore without language being a barrier. Thanks to one of the moderators, called Ben, every single video I publish has Spanish subtitles.

Madqueen community podcast

8.  How did you come to join the community podcast, and what is it like being one of the 4 each week?

Syb (from the Triple S league) and I worked together for years (and did zillions of Cyberpunk podcast in the past together for years) and we always wanted to collaborate with more creators and to create a place for the community around Cyberpunk 2077. After I returned from my 4 months break, more creators started to focus exclusively or heavily on this game, the Neon Arcade created his channel and Last Known Meal started to put a focus on it, so it was a great way to invite them to make something together. It’s funny and I love it, back in the day it felt very lonely because there wasn’t such a big interest on Cyberpunk 2077 and it was very difficult to find people to do things with, but now the attention on the game is massive and I have more people to play with.

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Final question:

9. What does Cyberpunk mean to you?

I think Science Fiction and, more specifically, Cyberpunk, are responsible for the worldview I have nowadays and my lifelong evolution as a person, so I have a lot to thank to Mike Pondsmith. And this is the shortest I can explain it without entering in a hundred pages dissertation.

 

Interview with Bradley B, Founder of Cyberpunks.com

Interviewing the Cyberpunk Community

There are multiple Cyberpunk blogs on the ‘net, each with its own distinct focus and flavor. Here at Cyberpunk Matrix, your one stop shop for everything Cyberpunk, you’ll notice that the focus is on Cyberpunk media, with a lighter look at how this media affects the world around it, while keeping up to date on everything new that is Cyberpunk. For a deep dive into the philosophy of Cyberpunk, you could try Neon Dystopia. For a community focus with a more interactive feel, try out The Cyberpunk Hive. But for a deeper and wider look at a commentary on “real life” and how it is already Cyberpunk, you can do no better than Cyberpunks.com.

Its founder, Bradley B., agreed to an interview with me so I could get to know a little more about his website, his team, and his thoughts on the current state of our Cyberpunk World. Check out my exclusive interview below.

1. What got you into Cyberpunk?

I think, aside from a early, yet cursory, understanding of Robocop (“he shoots bad guys!”), the earliest memory I have of cyberpunk media is watching Brainscan as a kid.  I was 11 or so, and it gave me nightmares!  That said, I watched it several times before I had to return the rental.  After that, I think I got into high fantasy more so than Sci-Fi.  It wasn’t until I saw The Matrix and Akira in my early twenties that I knew this was a special genre.  From there, I picked up a thrift copy of Neuromancer and did the deep dive.
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2. What made you decide to start cyberpunks.com?

It may have been the psychedelics? Maybe I touched the gestalt? We probably just got lucky the domain was for sale (time will tell!).  We have big love for cyberpunk, and it was obvious that the normalization of the genre was occurring, with CD Projekt Red intending to ship tens of millions of copies of Cyberpunk 2077.  We saw that a new wave of cyberpunk fans would soon be born.

However, at this time, most cyberpunk media had been bastardized and re(mis?)-appropriated while the larger communities had devolved into arguments over neon cities in rain & the emergent synthwave/retrowave aesthetics.  While any genre will (d)evolve over time, it was obvious that lots of folk had lost touch of the thread that led us back to Gibson, Sterling & the Mirrorshades Group.  Requests for book recommendations stopped at “Neuromancer” and “Snow Crash,” and there were only a few die-hards that could name more than five pieces of cyberpunk media.

Established cyberpunk sites, such as Neon Dystopia or The Cyberpunk Database provided great resources in the form of deep indices going back to the origins of cyberpunk, however, there was very little media to distinguish one work from the other. Why should someone go back and read John Shirley’s “City Come A’ Walking”  or Bruce Sterling’s “Schismatrix”?  We decided to dig in and try to tell that story.

And that’s just the literary genre. If you want, we could talk about how “Cyberpunk is Now” while moving away from the more puritanical subjects (best Blade Runner cut, anyone?). This, I think, was the real kicker for us. The notion that we’re living in a surveillance state, while consuming yellow journalism (fake news) and seeking truth in a (largely-online) society filled with sock puppets, phone farms, affiliate ads (guilty), astro-turfing, deepfakes, spam and cat videos.  In our opinion, the open-source and maker movements may be seen as the flies in the ointment, so to speak, allowing a freedom of speech through invention and creativity that may serve to spark a technical Renaissance, and not one housed in the walled gardens of Silicon Valley.

We also began to develop a feel for the ephemerality of publishing on the web, which we felt overlaid nicely with the retrospective nature of our project and how it applied to our beloved subgenre of speculative-fiction. As this new (fourth?) wave of cyberpunk approaches, we couldn’t help but notice the opportunity to play within this paradoxical arena — one in which we look back at those looking forward in hopes that we ourselves can look forward more clearly.

Frankly, this is a big question with a big, sweeping answer.  It’s something like a rite of passage, but I’m currently trying to distill our own version of “What is Cyberpunk?” for the website.  Keep checking in, and maybe we can actually define this quicksilver term (with a little help from our friends).

Plus, there’s supposed to be a video game coming out soon, in case you haven’t heard.

3. Is Cyberpunks a solo venture, or do you have a team behind you? If you have a team, who is in your team?

Hah, definitely not a solo venture.  By my count, we’ve had about thirty different authors submit work so far.  There’s a lot that goes into the making of the sausage.  I spend a lot of time pushing buttons and looking for cool projects on the web. Anyone who has story ideas or an article in hand is welcome to email us at info@cyberpunks.com.

4. How do you choose what goes on your website and what doesn’t? In other words, what’s your editorial/curating process?

We ask for pitches and approve what interests us. News and Current Events happen, and sometimes it makes sense to wade in.  We’re not afraid of the political, and we’re comfortable with opinion as well, so we’re willing to run the gamut.

As far as process, we’ve got several readers and editors who fact-check and tighten up a submission (if needed), and then we’ll lay this out in a “desktop-first” approach.  We’re seeing a lot of sites being lazy about their layouts, just dumping pictures into a stack of words.  While I think that works fine if you’re targeting phone users, this allows us to pay fan-service to our cyberpunk friends with six monitors.  We look good on mobile too!

5. What are your top three Cyberpunk works, and why?

Desert Island choices, eh?  Is this my personal island or the official cyberpunk canon island?  Permission to be obtuse?

Choice 1: How about the full Transmetropolitan series for eyecandy and ingenuity?

Choice 2: I’m going to go out on a limb and say Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.  This one’s still out of my reach, and I haven’t finished the read. I love the challenge of fordboding, eldritch tomes like Finnegan’s Wake and Gravity’s Rainbow. This one’s super-relevant now as much as ever.  It should keep me busy on the desert island.

Choice 3: Maybe “The Unix Programming Environment” or “Introduction to C Programming”?   Both were written by researchers at Bell Labs and meant for AT&T’s industrial and business purposes, which at the time was a focus on the nationwide networking of computers via telephones.  Pretty incredible systems were implemented to manage that, and we use them in our computing paradigms still to this day. Point being, and I’m as guilty as anyone — we’ve gotten farther away from the source material. The internet has become abstracted away from user interactivity and moved toward user consumption.  It’s a cyberpunk’s job to keep it weird and break things.  Isn’t it? Anyhow — This is the start of the path to l33t skills.

6. With the advent of drones, robots, the Hong Kong protests and now the Coronavirus, some people think life as we know it is more Cyberpunk than ever. What are your thoughts on the current condition of Cyberpunk in everyday life?

I mean, I touched on it earlier, but it’s pretty obvious. People hate when you point out the obvious. The collected knowledge of the world can be displayed from a device that fits in your hand. You’re probably reading this interview right now with a smartphone in your hand and Apple/Google/Facebook/Verizon are looking over your shoulder.  We all know the story already.

Here.   I’ll prove it.

  • Mention a product explicitly within earshot of your phone — What happens?
  • Name two reasons why you would want to have multiple social media profiles on a single platform.
  • Tell the truth — Do you ever look at your webcam with a brief flash of paranoia?  How often?
  • What’s the capital of Pennsylvania?

7. What are your thoughts of the future of Cyberpunk media? Are there any titles in particular you’re looking forward to?

William Gibson’s gonna finish his latest trilogy.  Cory Doctorow will too.  Lots of emergent voices are in this genre genre now, so I’m hoping I can find more time to read them and give them a fair shake.  Cyberpunk 2077, of course, could be a clarion call or another death knell for the genre.  I’m hopeful, as it’s not the first time I’ve heard it said that cyberpunk is dead.

We’ve talked before about how we’re really missing out by not focusing our attention on the non-fiction side of cyberpunk:

Skill up, kids. The DIY movement is a not-so-new opportunity for cyberpunk media, IMO. This is the true Hacker paradigm: Open Source, GitHub, Hackaday, Stack Exchange, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Adafruit, MAKE (R.I.P), Prusa Printing — These are the new battlegrounds of cyberpunk, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The future is becoming more evenly distributed. I’m just getting my feet wet.  How about you?

8. Finally, what does the word “Cyberpunk” mean to you?

See above.   If you think that stuff’s weird — You should see our website.

 

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Interviewing the Cyberpunk Community: an ongoing series

Did you like what you read? Then check out the rest of our interview series!

The Cyberpunk Genre, our First Viewing Experiences of The Matrix, and Matrix 4: Interview with NeoMatrixology

Upstart

What is NeoMatrixology?

“Welcome to the bottom of the rabbit hole! Remember, as one realizes that one is a dream figure in another person’s dream–that is self-awareness.”–Lazarus, NeoMatrixology founder

NeoMatrixology is the YouTube channel from Lazarus who, along with his Instagram and Twitter channels, breaks down in great detail the Matrix trilogy and all other related Matrix media using a “logical ‘yellow pill’ approach to research (by making sure all his sources are valid and not rumor mills).

Who is Lazarus?

Lazarus was born and raised in the East Coast, near Philadelphia, but chose to be anonymous so he could be the “voice behind the screen.” He has done some work in the music industry as a DJ, but other than that, we know very little about the mysterious man behind NeoMatrixology. And he likes it that way.

However, if you want to meet him in person, he is hosting a “Project Matriculated” screening project in order to watch the premiere of Matrix 4 for the Cyberpunk Community, if you can snag a ticket.

Vesuveus (@vesuveusmxo) | Twitter

Discussing the Cyberpunk Genre, Our First Matrix Viewing Experiences, and What Might Come Next for Matrix 4

To listen to the complete podcast, click the link below.

Topics that we cover:

In this podcast with Lazarus we cover the following topics:

  • Will Matrix 4 and John Wick 4 happen on the same day?
  • What video games and technology he grew up with.
  • Does Isaac Asimov count as Cyberpunk?
  • How does Lazarus define “Cyberpunk”?
  • What are his early influences of Cyberpunk?
  • What are his favorite Cyberpunk works?
  • Which Terminator film is the best.
  • Which Matrix film is his favorite?
  • He tells us his story of how he saw The Matrix for the first time.
  • I share the unusual way that I saw The Matrix for the first time.
  • How and Why Lazarus started his NeoMatrixology YouTube channel.
  • The Matrix Online Universe with its different factions and communities.
  • How he merged the Matrix and Terminator story lines to make montage videos.
  • We discuss The Path of Neo video game.
  • What happens in The Matrix Online Canon (including major events with Morpheus and Trinity.
  • What may appear in Matrix 4 from Matrix Online, if any.
  • From Matrix Online, who the General is and how he might be important and why in Matrix 4
  • How Sense 8 and David Mitchell may (or may not) have any influence on Matrix 4.

If you like this interview and want to comment on any of the things we covered, comment below! You can find Lazarus over at his YouTube and Twitter channels.

Correction: The director of Oblivion is Joseph Kosinski, who also directed Tron: Legacy, not Ghost in the Shell. Ghost in the Shell (2017) was directed by Rupert Sanders, who also directed Snow White and the Huntsman.  Still, they’re all great films!

 

 

Interview: Simon Herzog and the Cyberpunk Protests in Hong Kong

The Fugitive Offenders Amendment Bill

On April 3rd, 2019, Hong Kong lawmakers were given a pretty straightforward extradition bill called the Fugitive Offenders Amendment bill. In response to a legal issue, the bill would have allowed extradition of suspected offenders from Hong Kong to mainland China under very specific conditions, and on a case-by-case basis.

A “Special Administrative Region”

While Hong Kong technically belongs to China, it is considered a “special administrative region” of China with its own set of laws, currency, and government with a strong pro-democracy, pro-independence movement. While this status is set to end ominously in 2047, many residents of Hong Kong are afraid of mainland China trying to end it early. This extradition bill could have allowed that to happen, because if Hong Kong residents are extradited through dubious claims to mainland China, they could then be made to disappear, and then who knows what would happen to them.

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Cyberpunk Protests in Hong Kong

Thus, the uprising began, and although the bill was later rescinded, protests have been going strong since April with many of them feeling very cyberpunk in nature due to the use of gas masks, bows and arrows, umbrellas, face masks, flashlights and lasers to avoid CCTV detection.

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In order to experience this firsthand and get a better understanding of the massive Cyberpunk protests in Hong Kong, my friend Simon Herzog decided to go there himself, where he spoke with locals and snapped some photos of everything he witnessed. He agreed to an interview with Cyberpunk Matrix to share some of his thoughts below.

Simon Herzog in Shades

Hi Simon. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?

I translate between different disciplines and help bridge cultural and human differences through entrepreneurshipart, and design. I spend most of my time organizing or teaching workshops in innovation and problem-solving methodologies like design thinking and service design, helping organizations create more human-centric products and services. Other than that, I use photography and video for storytelling and have side projects like designing and making an ultralight backpacking tent from scratch.

Gibson Quote Street

Art by Benjamin Last

Why do you like Cyberpunk? What does it mean to you?

Like a lot of science fiction, cyberpunk casts a light on the worlds we have already built. I appreciate its stories for the resourcefulness of its characters in the face of overwhelming forces such as corporations, governments, or technology itself. It allows me to vicariously experience an extreme version of the adaptability, preparedness, and pragmatism I take so much pleasure and pride in in my own life. On top of that, I love the aesthetic and the sense of anarchy and possibility, and the sense of meritocracy that comes from an unyielding environment where skill is everything.

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The aesthetic is definitely pretty cool. And what brought you to Hong Kong recently?

I had been following the protests since their beginnings in March, and it felt right away like something important was happening. It’s difficult from afar to form a balanced opinion and to understand what is really happening when there’s social upheaval like this and both sides have a vested interest in presenting their side favorably, and I wanted to be in a place where the news is happening and talk to people on the ground. Also, I saw some of the resourcefulness and anarchic creativity that marks the characters in cyberpunk stories in the protesters, and was curious to see it for myself. When I had some business in Kuala Lumpur in December I decided to extend my trip and stop by Hong Kong for a few days.

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Can you explain what is happening in Hong Kong?

The introduction of a controversial extradition law that would have allowed mainland China access to people arrested in Hong Kong and Taiwan triggered severe resistance from a large portion of Hong Kongers who see themselves as a quasi-sovereign nation and are eager to preserve their relative independence from China for as long as possible. The Chinese government is keen to begin assimilating Hong Kong into its authoritarian system even before the official end of the “one country, two systems” arrangement in 2047, and in a way the protesters are trying to delay or prevent this most likely inevitable outcome. From the initial rejection of the extradition law the protests have evolved as a largely leaderless movement to include five demands, ranging from an independent investigation into police brutality to universal suffrage in deciding the government of Hong Kong. The government has been relatively unyielding, other than withdrawing the extradition bill, and clashes have steadily escalated over the past several months.

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Interesting. And what happened when you went there?

I have some friends in Hong Kong and I had relied on one of them in particular to invite me to some protester Telegram groups in the weeks before my arrival. That’s how I found out about what was happening that weekend, and I went to a small rally on Saturday and a gigantic one with over 800,000 people on Sunday, December 8th. This march was one of the few that had received official approval from the government, which is likely why so many people attended and it did not result in significant clashes. Still, as the masses of people were churning through the streets and reached the official end of the marching route, the overwhelming momentum of the crowd pushed it past the finish line, unable or unwilling to disperse, and into a large riot police blockade. The police had lined up across an entire wide avenue in full riot gear, trucks with water cannons behind them, and they were holding up the yellow flag warning protesters to not approach any further. The police use a color-coded system of flags to announce their increasingly severe response – from a passive warning to a vague threat of force to tear gas to live fire. That day, things didn’t escalate to real violence, and I didn’t end up having to use the gas mask or any of the emergency gear I’d brought. At the front lines, some provocateurs had dismantled street barriers and were wielding steel bars they had pulled from those barriers as weapons, but most other front-liners, though visibly prepared to fight, repeatedly pushed the line back and away from the police in order to avoid a confrontation.

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What do you think will come next for the city?

I had a chance to speak to people with a range of opinions on the protests, from young people that had been actively a part of them since the beginning, were in the streets every weekend, and boycotted pro-Chinese businesses, to professionals who were concerned with or disapproved of the methods of some of the protesters and were discontent with the disruptions the movement had caused. At its core, the issue is about Hong Kong’s quasi-sovereignty and its relationship with China, and even many moderate Hong Kongers have gotten used to and value the special privileges of living in a state with some of the features of Western democracies such as freedom of expression. Virtually everyone under 30 in Hong Kong now identifies as Hong Kongers rather than Chinese, a record figure. There is also a class dimension to the protests; many wealthier professionals rely heavily on business with China for their income and therefore tend to be more pro-Chinese as a group. Still, the recent elections represented a strong vote of confidence from the general population in favor of the protests. I believe they will continue for some time, but I do not expect either major concessions from the government – since showing weakness would embolden other dissidents and separatists – nor, hopefully, a major escalation of force. Eventually, I anticipate that some minor concessions will be made and that the protests will eventually lose steam.

Last, but not least, why do you think Hong Kong is one of the most Cyberpunk cities in the world?

There are certain places in the world – Dubai, Hong Kong, Chongqing – where the reality is already stranger than fiction. Hong Kong has the look that defined a lot of the greatest cyberpunk aesthetics, such as Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner. Few other cities have both the verticality and the claustrophobia of Hong Kong, where millions are crammed into a finite space, and buildings grow as tall as they can while apartments are as small as humanly possible. Hong Kong was also until 1993 home to the Kowloon Walled City, easily the most cyberpunk place to have ever existed, and also the densest human settlement in history. For readers of this blog not familiar with it, it’s very worth researching.

Kowloon Walled City

The Kowloon Walled City

Thanks for answering our questions here at Cyberpunk Matrix, Simon!

To see or learn more from Simon Herzog, you can contact him via his website here or follow him on his instagram.

Photos courtesy of Simon Herzog