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2019: A Year in Review for Cyberpunk

breathtaking

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 2018, described how I learned about and became obsessed with the genre of Cyberpunk. While different from 2018 in that I now know what the term means, 2019 has been a year of incredible growth for me personally and for the genre of Cyberpunk in general. On the first few days of 2019 I wrote the following:

I wonder what 2019 will bring, but one thing I know for sure is that my love for everything Cyberpunk will continue. I will carry on consuming and writing about cyberpunk media, starting off with this new year with watching the newly released Bandersnatch episode of Black Mirror, and then hopefully from watching Replicas and then Battle Angel: Alita. I’m also excited to read the newest addition to my cyberpunk library, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, as well as learning more about Philip K Dick–his life, his writing, and his philosophy.

Bandersnatch ended up being a creative new way to watch a series, but the ideas that came with it proved insufficient to warrant writing a review yet.

Replicas ended up being good, but it took me a lot longer to watch it than I expected. Alita: Battle Angel was amazing, as expected, but Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was so boring in the first 30 pages or so that I couldn’t even finish it. So that was a little disappointing.

So Many Great Surprises!

Nonetheless, I was happily surprised by a myriad of interesting new Cyberpunk releases that 2019 brought, many of which were things I could have never in my wildest dreams predicted (like Keanu being in Cyberpunk 2077 or Matrix 4 being announced!)

So now, dear reader, let’s take a look at each month and what cyberpunk news or media production was released.

Replicas

January 2019: Replicas

The year started off lightly with the indie production of Replicas, released on January 11th in the US and featuring Cyberpunk legend Keanu Reeves, who plays a neuroscientist who tries to bring his family back to life via digitizing their consciousness into clone bodies. The movie was pretty good! More of a solving-a-series-of-problems thriller a la Da Vinci Code than action or horror film. I definitely recommend seeing it though, if you haven’t already. You can check out my more in-depth review of it here. The film got very little press coverage or mention, and I think was mostly ignored by the general public due to funding. The cyberpunk genre still hadn’t grown into its own at this point.

alita battle angel release

February 2019: Alita: Battle Angel

February 2019 came with the long-awaited GUNNM anime adaptation called Alita: Battle Angel. This movie did pretty well at the box office, and put the Cyberpunk genre back in the spotlight for the general public with its high production value and marketing. Released on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, the movie did an amazing job displaying both Motorball and Parkour in its film, while giving an overall palatable romance between the cyborg Alita and human Hugo.

Love Death and Robots

March, 2019: Love, Death & Robots

As the picture above describes, this was a NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) animated Anthology series of short stories all related loosely to the themes of Love, Death, and Robots. While some stories showed just science-fiction, and others showed just fantasy (like vampires and werewolves), there were a total of six clearly Cyberpunk episodes in this Anthology. They were Sonnie’s Edge, The Witness, Suits, Beyond the Aquila Rift, Zima Blue, and Blind Spot. For my favorites and a more in-depth review of each episode, you can check it out here. This Anthology was very interesting because it made clear, in my mind at least, the different kinds of Cyberpunk sub-genres that exist: Action, Horror, and Mystery/Drama.

Uyghur photo

April: Organ-Harvesting and the horrors of the Uyghurs

After seeing a report of this on CNN and then later on the news, I shared the horrors of what sound like basically concentration camps for ethnic Uyghurs who are being targeted by the Chinese government. Very dystopian indeed. This story, sadly, is still developing.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu

May: Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

Despite probably not officially Cyberpunk, I shared my views on how Pokemon Detective Pikachu had some decidedly Cyberpunk themes in it. It was also an all-around fun movie to watch, especially with Ryan Reynolds voicing Pikachu.

cyberpunk 2077 keanu

June: Cyberpunk 2077 Trailer with the legendary reveal of Keanu Reeves as Johnny Silverhand

This is the moment where internet fandom went into overdrive. At E3 fans first heard Keanu Reeve’s voice, then saw his digital likeness come on screen during Cyberpunk 2077’s newest official cinematic trailer for their video game due to be released in April of next year. Few will forget the moment when Keanu himself then comes onto the stage to announce the game’s release date, and that fateful fan who yelled “you’re breathtaking!” to which Keanu responds “no, YOU’re breathtaking! You’re ALL breathtaking!” This, along with John Wick 3, officially hailed the beginning of what some are calling the Keanussance. August’s big announcement didn’t help in this regard.

July: …I’ve got nothing.

Keanu and Carrie Anne

August: Matrix 4 announced

This was perhaps the one biggest announcement that I couldn’t have even ever imagined happening in my lifetime. Matrix 4 was officially announced, with many of the actors from the original trilogy returning, including Carrie Anne-Moss and Keanu Reeves himself. Since the original announcement I have been following any further updates as we have been getting them, such as concept artists, hopes and predictions, and October and December updates.

cyberpunk 2077 deep dive video

September: New Gameplay Trailer for Cyberpunk 2077

September brought us a new video of the gameplay we could expect in Cyberpunk 2077, including a deep dive into the locations, classes, and factions we could expect from the videogame. Which class will you be?

Terminator Dark Fate Poster

October: Terminator: Dark Fate

Retconning the sequels after T-2 and intended to be a reboot of the franchise, James Cameron returned to produce this sequel, creating a movie that was pretty good in my opinion but lacked any significant wow-factor. It performed alright in the box office, but not well enough to jumpstart the franchise again. Will this be the last Terminator film we will ever see? Time will tell.

cybertruck

November: Tesla’s Cybertruck

The much-teased Cybertruck was finally introduced by Elon Musk, in a manner that was probably meant to be a big trending epic reveal but ended up being a bit of an embarrassment for Elon as the supposedly bulletproof and shatterproof windows of the Cybertruck broke (twice!) during the live demonstration in the unveiling. Oops! “We’ll fix it in post” Elon tried to nonchalantly say, but the damage was (literally) already done. Nonetheless, it still turned heads and didn’t stop multiple preorders from being submitted, promising that this truck will be the newest hot item to hit the roads. Whether the trend will last, no one knows, but it was worth noting how mainstream Cyberpunk has become considering how similar the visuals and fonts were for the Cybertruck and the Cyberpunk 2077 video game. Elon is clearly a fan.

NeoSkies photo for Alex

December: Expanding the community: Interviewing and collaborating with NeoSkies

The most recent development from the last couple of months is more of a personal development which has been discovering and interacting with other Cyberpunk fans who enjoy the genre and like creating content as much as I do. One such fan has been NeoSkies. It’s been great to follow NeoSkies’ content production online with Instagram, Twitter, etc. and to engage in her surveys and discussions with the Cyberpunk Community around the world. We’re not alone! It was also similarly great for me to have the opportunity to interview NeoSkies on her process and inspiration, as well.

Looking to the Future

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.

Altered-Carbon-Season-2

  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.

So what new Cyberpunk media are you looking forward to seeing/reading/playing in 2020? Let us know in the comments below!

Why Tesla’s CyberTruck Matters

A Unique Unveiling

cybertruck

On November 21st, Elon Musk finally unveiled the long-teased and eagerly anticipated Cybertruck. The unveiling was livestreamed with great fanfare, featuring Elon and his team introducing all the different features of this truck that looks quite unlike any other truck you may have seen before.

…And with the unique design came the ridiculing on the internet. “Finally every kid will be able to draw a realistic truck” noted one commentator on Youtube. Others compared the design of the truck to everything from the Pokemon Polygon to the original video game version of Lara Croft’s breasts.

But not everyone poked fun. Some hailed the design as taken straight from a sci-fi film, which indeed was probably where a lot of the inspiration for the design came from.

The ridicule was then made worse when one of Elon’s team threw a metal ball at the car’s windows to prove how durable and shatterproof they were. Instead the ball cracked the glass at its impact point. So they did it again with the second window, sure it wouldn’t happen again. But it did.

This made for a somewhat awkward rest of the presentation, with Elon standing in front of his brand new Cybertruck with cracked windows trying to continue selling the thing as if nothing had happened.

Elon Cybertruck awkward

“We can fix that in post” Musk joked, as he tried to move past the incident. He later tweeted his team doing the exact same thing in a test behind closed doors, showing the windows doing what they were supposed to and repelling the metal ball effortlessly. It was clearly a humbling experience.

The Inspiration

Musk told Vox journalist Kara Swisher in an interview last year that the car would be “a really futuristic-like cyberpunk, ‘Blade Runner’ pickup truck”. Thus the name, and I would imagine, the appreciation for the Cyberpunk genre.

Apparently the appreciation is mutual. Blade Runner’s art director Syd Mead apparently told Business Insider that the Cybertruck was “stylistically breathtaking”, for which Musk was later thanked him for on twitter.

Musk also stated that part of the influence for the design was taken from the Lotus Esprit S1 car, which turned into a submarine for James Bond in The Spy That Loved Me.

Sci-fi and Cyberpunk fans felt that the car was reminiscent to many classic sci-fi films such as Total Recall, Back to the Future, and Blade Runner of course.

Cyberpunk 2077 Rumors

But sci-fi fans may have something else on the horizon to get even more excited about. There are rumors that the Cybertruck may be featured as a playable vehicle in Cyberpunk 2077.

A fan posted the picture below to Reddit of what that may look like, and as you can see, it fits right in.

tesla cybertruck cyberpunk 2077

In fact, Screenrant made the connection immediately. “[Elon Musk] unveiled [the truck] with a name which suggests the inventor is very, very hyped for CD Projekt Red’s next game. Luckily, it may not be too late in the development cycle of Cyberpunk 2077 for the game to add in Cybertruck as some sort of additional promotional content, should they choose to do so. After all, Musk is undeniably practically begging for it with that font choice.”

How close are the fonts? Well, you be the judge. Below is the Cybetruck font.

Cybertruck font

And this is the Cyberpunk 2077 font.

Cyberpunk 2077 logo

…Screenrant may have a point.

Why this all matters

I discovered Cyberpunk in January 2018, but I have always loved the Cyberpunk genre–I just never knew it. With my favorite movie of all time being The Matrix, and then feeling enraptured by films such as Ghost in the Shell, Minority Report, I, Robot, or Blade Runner 2049, it’s always been a genre that was an interest of mine. However, for a long time this genre was rather niche. Despite the Matrix trilogy bringing the genre out of the shadows for a brief period, it wasn’t enough to keep it mainstream, and thus it fell back out of the limelight until 2017 and 2018 which was considered by some to be a re-birth of the genre. This was a result of Blade Runner 2049 and Ghost in the Shell coming out the same year, followed soon thereafter by Ready Player One, a Steven Spielberg film. We also saw Upgrade, and TV series like Altered Carbon and Black Mirror coming out around the same time, and it was this combination that finally helped Cyberpunk stay in the mainstream spotlight to some extent.

The Cybertruck is proof Cyberpunk is becoming mainstream

Now, with Cyberpunk 2077, I am convinced that Cyberpunk is experiencing a rebirth of the genre. People are becoming more excited than ever about Cyberpunk, and the Cybertruck–a competitor to the Ford F-150 in the car industry, of all places–is one of the many places that Cyberpunk is becoming relevant. With the rising use of drones and the increasing ability of autonomous robots, I believe that Cyberpunk will continue becoming more popular, not less, and the Cybertruck is clear proof of this. Its home was in the books, movies, and tv series, but it is now expanding into delivery drones for Amazon, Mules and Bomb Squad Robots for the military, and now trucks in the car industry.

Cyberpunk is now.

Geof Darrow, Steve Skroce return for Matrix 4 Concept Art

8 storyboard

Screenrant has recently confirmed that Geofrey Darrow and Steve Skroce will be returning for Matrix 4 to help create the concept art to visualize the scenes for this film, now that the script is mostly already written. In case you don’t recognize these names, This is the duo (with Skroce in particular) that helped draw the storyboard scene by scene to help the Warner Brother executives understand the vision the Wachowski sisters had at the time back in the late 1990s. Their sketches of the opening scene of the Matrix where Trinity is running away from agents was crucial in securing the funding the Wachowskis needed in order to get their film off the ground. It’s great to see that Lana Wachowski will be going back to basics with all these original members of the team that made the Matrix trilogy so great before. It also confirms a pattern of Lana choosing people she can trust, and that she’s worked with before. This will allow fans to breathe a little easier, knowing that Matrix 4 is in good hands. John Toll has also confirmed that he will serve as cinematographer.

While I wasn’t able to find any social media for Skroce, Darrow seems very excited to be back in the project again. He posted on his twitter @DarrowGeof the following on August 22nd: “Never thought I’d ever see my name in a paragraph with these three. YIKES!!” (the three being Lana Wachowski, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in this article from Hollywood Reporter).

Darrow isn’t alone in sharing this enthusiasm for returning to the Matrix world.

“We could not be more excited to be re-entering ‘The Matrix’ with Lana,” said Warner Bros. Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich. “Lana is a true visionary — a singular and original creative filmmaker — and we are thrilled that she is writing, directing and producing this new chapter in ‘The Matrix’ universe.”

Lana, in turn, also had this to say about returning to the project:

“Many of the ideas Lilly and I explored 20 years ago about our reality are even more relevant now. I’m very happy to have these characters back in my life and grateful for another chance to work with my brilliant friends.”

Hopefully Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving will share this enthusiasm enough to return to the world as well. For now, we have to wait and see.

 

Matrix 4 Confirmed! Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss Return

Keanu and Carrie Anne

Well folks, the unthinkable happened. Variety has confirmed last night with an exclusive report that Matrix 4 has finally been confirmed! And thus today, August 21st 2019, will mark the beginning of what will probably be a year or more of Cyberpunk Matrix reporting to you the latest updates as I get them. So far, this is what we know via Variety:

Returning actors and director

Lana Wachowski

Lana Wachowski will be writing and directing the fourth film in the series, while Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss will be reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity respectively. This obviously raises a lot of questions, since Trinity died via major impaling at the end of Matrix Revolutions, and then Neo died as a martyr in order to rid the Matrix of Agent Smith and free the humans from the machines in a truce to allow them to co-exist. Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne, has been noticeably absent from the announcement, which is doubly curious considering he is definitely still active in playing roles (such as with Keanu Reeves in the latest two John Wick films) and he was left practically unharmed at the end of Matrix Revolutions.

Producers

Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures will produce and globally distribute the film again, and  Warner Bros. Picture Group Chairman Toby Emmerich was the one who made the announcement Tuesday about Matrix 4.

Writers

Hemon and Mitchell

In addition to Lana Wachowski, the script was also written by Alexsandar Hemon and David Mitchell. Hemon is a Bosnian-American fiction writer best known for his novel Lazarus Project (2008) which won the distinction of New York Magazine’s No. 1 Book of the Year. Mitchell might be more recognizable as the writer behind the novel Cloud Atlas, which was made into a film written and directed by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer. Mitchell was reportedly very impressed with how the Wachowskis had adapted his novel into a movie, a feat that he never thought was even possible. “Adaptation is a form of translation, and all acts of translation have to deal with untranslatable spots…When asked whether I mind the changes made during the adaption of Cloud Atlas, my response is similar: The filmmakers speak fluent film language, and they’ve done what works” (Wall Street Journal). He later collaborated again with the Wachowskis on the second season of the Netflix show Sense8, and would have continued working on Season 3 had Netflix not cancelled the show.

Mitchell-Wachowski collaborations

Cloud Atlas

Considering how closely the Wachowskis are working with Mitchell, it might be worth taking a closer look at their collaboration with him for Sense8’s season 2, as well as re-watching Cloud Atlas, taking particular note to the excellent Cyberpunk story set in 2144 Seoul surrounding the story of Sonmi-451, a human clone born into slave labor.

Unanswered Questions

Although this news is very exciting, a lot of what we have learned gives rise to countless new questions. What about Laurence Fishburne and Morpheus? When will the story take place, before or after the events of the Matrix trilogy? If it takes place before, it would be focused more on Trinity perhaps, since Neo would just be Thomas Anderson, computer hacker and corporate worker. If it was set after the trilogy, they would have to resurrect Neo and Trinity somehow. It could be possible to resurrect Neo by having his consciousness stored digitally and then implanted on a new host, much like how Smith implanted himself on a human in the real world. Regarding Trinity, she could appear in Neo’s dreams, thus allowing her to be in the movie while remaining dead.

Or, perhaps, it could be a story that runs in parallel to the matrix, perhaps somewhere after the end of Matrix 1 but before Matrix 3 when Smith corrupted the Matrix system with all his clones.

Music

The Matrix music

What about the music? Who will be composing the original score? In the original trilogy it was mostly composed by Don Davis, with Juno Reactor contributing to several tracks. I think they should stick with the same composer, so that they can modify the original Matrix score to bring back the nostalgia vibe, while at the same time modifying parts of it to make it more modern.

Speaking of which, what contributing artists will they be adding? In the first Matrix, for example, they included samples of songs from artists like Rage Against the Machine, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, The Prodigy, Propellerheads, Rob Dougan, and Rammstein. that reflected a good punk vibe of end 1990s-early 2000s. What would be an equivalent today? Will they want to make it more electronic to match the times, or perhaps add a synthwave element to it? Daft Punk seems like a good possibility, but so does Junkie XL who recently composed for Alita: Battle Angel and is composing the score for the new Terminator reboot Dark Fate.

Thoughts

What do you think about what may happen with Matrix 4? Comment below.

An RFID implant to unlock your Tesla–Cyberpunk is Now

AmieDD

Source: womenlovetech.com

Meet Amie. Amie doesn’t like being told she can’t do things, like taking the RFID chip out of her Tesla key card and implanting it into her arm. So she melted it out with acetone, encapsulated it in a biopolymer with the help of Amal Graafstra of DangerousThings.com, and proved her naysayers wrong with the assistance of body modification expert studio Shaman Modifications.

The new implant joins a previous one to unlock Amie’s house door and access her own personal website. “If I were to tap my hand to your phone, it would automatically open a browser and go to my web page” she explains. I guess Amie has a strong aversion to physical keys. Now she can wave at a laptop or phone to show her website, wave at her front door to open up, and wave at her car to unlock and start.

AmieDD Tesla

Source: electrek.co

The full details of how Amie hacked her TESLA card and implanted it into her arm can be found here on here hackaday website. She also made a couple videos to show you just how she did it so maybe you, too, someday, could implant a chip in your arm? My concern would be if TESLA decides to do an update and then the chip needs to be replaced or updated. That’s a lot of body cutting.

Reading Amie’s personal bio sounds like a character ported right out of a Cyberpunk 2077 character sheet. She started her career at Marvel Studios, working on Captain America and X-Men Destiny. Then she transitioned into R&D to work on the XBOX and Playstation consoles. Now she works She’s a self-described maker, builder, and “magical unicorn software engineer” which includes selling her own 3-D printed items and LEGO gifts on her own etsy store. Oh and, did I mention she’s a next-level cosplayer? Because she does that too.

amiedd lego cosplay

It looks cool but I can’t imagine that’s very comfortable to wear. So many LEGO edges to stab yourself with!

When describing her cosplay experience and what it brought to her tinkering skills, Amie explains in the about page of her website that “Working on cosplay costumes have helped me become a better programmer, it taught me to finish a project, and always better myself, and never be afraid to be a beginner. Tech is sexy.” And to help inspire others, she’s bringing that message of sexy tech to girls, by starting her own scholarship for girls in STEM through the National Videogame Museum.

Amie is a true cyberpunk. We should all be more like Amie.

To read more about Amie’s TESLA experience, you can check out this article about it on Teslarati.com