Tag Archives: Featured

Cyberpunk Book Review: Tropical Punch (Bubbles in Space #1)

Cyberpunk Review: Bubbles in Space #1 — Tropical Punch

Tropical Punch is a cyberpunk tech-noir murder mystery written by Sarah C. Jensen, featuring “Bubbles Marlowe”, an irreverent private eye with a robotic arm and who loves chewing bubble gum, which apparently is an important detail since every book in the Bubbles in Space series (Chew ’em Up, Pop ’em One, and Spit ’em Out) seems to reference chewing gum. Or perhaps it’s a cheeky play on words with the author and her readers, setting the tone for the books themselves. If so, it’s brilliant and hilarious, much like the majority of this book.

A Fun Cyberpunk Setting and Sidekick

Bubbles is an ex-cop private detective who is given a seemingly easy job: to deliver a message to a girl in HoloCity. Once she finds her, though, everything seems to go wrong, and she quickly finds herself inextricably caught up in a confusing murder mystery to solve which leads her right on board an inter-galactic cruise liner. By her side  is her trusty android pig, Hammett, a cute wise-cracking robot with the ability to hack into systems and who serves as a reliable sidekick to Bubbles.

A Fast-Paced Page-Turner

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tropical Punch and, much to my surprise, it was a page-turner that I finished in record time. I simply couldn’t put it down. Starting in the rain-soaked neon streets of HoloCity before going to the rich people’s space cruise, I loved the themes of income inequality, corrupt cops, cybernetics, religious zealots, and advanced tech in a noir-detective style.

Meme credit: S.C. Jensen

A Female SF Lead written by a Female SF Author

Another thing I definitely enjoyed was reading a novel with a female protagonist written by a female science fiction writer, for once. So much of the Cyberpunk novels I’ve read, from Snowcrash to Neuromancer, from Total Recall to Altered Carbon, have all been written by men with male protagonists. The Cyberpunk that I know and love, however, is more diverse than that. So we need writers like Sarah Jensen to continue lending her voice and her characters in order to fill the cyberpunk canvas with more complex, interesting characters. Bubbles is a recovering alcoholic, for example, which was inspired from Jensen’s own personal struggles with alcohol addiction.

Meme Credit: S.C. Jensen

Final Verdict: 9/10

What stopped this book from getting a full 10/10 mark was the fact that once I finished it, I didn’t feel like I had a deep awakening or a new insight on life or anything. It’s not the kind of book that really sticks with you. Rather, it a fun, light-hearted, fast read that hits all the right Cyberpunk marks. It actually felt rather reminiscent of the Harry Dresden Files books. If you like Harry Dresden but wished he were more Cyberpunk, then look no further than Bubbles Marlowe. And even if you don’t, I highly recommend this enjoyable read for the funny one-liners, great cyberpunk elements, top-notch writing, and the refreshing female perspective. I for one can’t wait to read the rest of this series! Book 5 should be out by the end of the year 2021. Books 1-4 are available now on Amazon via paperback, kindle, and kindle unlimited.

 

Cyberpunk Day 2021

Cyberpunk Day 2021: A Celebration of Everything Cyberpunk

 

Well folks, it’s October again, and with that comes a celebration of everything Cyberpunk: 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 cyberpunk writers Matthew Goodwin, Elias Hurst, Rachel Beck, and many more.

A Cyberpunk Lineup

This year Cyberpunk day has a really cool, revamped website, with a lineup is as follows:

11AM EST: Cyberpunk Games with Devs–Cyberpunk games showcase and game-dev interviews, hosted by FuzzyFreaks.

12PM EST: Cyberpunk Red GM Tips with GM Rob Mulligan.

1PM EST: Cyberpunk Roundtable with Cyberpunk authors Joseph & Marisha Cautilli, Tobias Cabral, and Matthew Goodwin.

2:30PM EST: Author readings (Block 1) with Cyberpunk authors Elias Hurst, Rachel Beck, Jon Richter, Jim Keen, Stu Jones, Marcos Antonio Hernandez, and Eric Danhoff.

4PM EST: Deus Ex Speedrun with Heinki.

5PM EST: Screening of Venus and Interview with Director Andrew McGee.

6PM EST: Author Readings (Block 2) with Mark Everglade, Craig Lea Gordon, Tanweer Dar, Matt Adcock and Cypress Butane.

7PM EST: Interview with Mike Pondsmith.

9PM EST: Cyberpunk Red One-Shot: Cyberpunk TTRPG creator Mr. Stidz refs a one-shot playthrough of Cyberpunk Red with players JonJon TheWise, Phil Harker-Smith, Rachel E. Beck and Miss Magitek.

With a full schedule of events, Cyberpunk day will be surely a day unlike any other, where people around the world can follow @cyberpunkday on Twitter to access all the events live as they happen every hour. 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 once again 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. Some of this has changed from last year, a lot of it hasn’t. Regardless, come celebrate Cyberpunk with your operator Alex, here on 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. 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, including livestreams breaking down the latest news. 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.
  2. Matthew A Goodwin & Elias Hurst  — Both Cyberpunk authors in their own right, Goodwin and Hurst have joined forces to create Cyberpunk Day each year, creating an impressive lineup that helps other cyberpunk creators come together, while also helping cyberpunk enthusiasts find their content. They also help contribute content to the Cyberpunk reddit forums, Matrix forums, and Cyberpunk discord servers. Both are doing great work to keep the lifeblood of the cyberpunk community alive, and I was able to have both authors on recently for the Cyberpunk Matrix Podcast. You can listen to Matthew’s interview here, and Elias’ interview should be going live this weekend!

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

Despite the title sounding like a Cyberpunk Cosmopolitan Cocktail, Bubbles in Space: Tropical Punch is a delightful Cyberpunk Noir Detective story following Cyborg Private Investigator Bubbles Marlowe as she investigates a mysterious crime ring and new drug that hit the market. Starting in dystopian slums, her investigation brings her to a luxurious interstellar yacht, where not everything is as it seems. I read this book incredibly quickly, and particularly loved the interactions with the PI and her sassy android pig companion. Read the complete review for Tropical Punch on the blog, fortunately it’s only book 1 of 5 in the series by Canadian Cyberpunk author S.C. Jensen!

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 (see the speed run in the Cyberpunk Day lineup above). 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 (even more than Cyberpunk 2077, surprisingly, although it was close). 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!

 

The Matrix Resurrections: Official Trailer Reaction and Breakdown

The Matrix Resurrections: Official Full Trailer

The Matrix Resurrections finally released its official trailer this month, and I’ve finally found some time between moving and getting stable internet back to sit down and unpack everything it revealed. So buckle your seatbelts, folks, because there’s a lot of exciting things that we’ve learned about Matrix 4.

The opening shot

The trailer begins with an opening shot of the top of a hill in downtown San Francisco, with a lot more vibrant hues and colors than we’re used to, considering the green tint to everything we saw in the previous Matrix trilogy. While this may seem confusing to some, it’s important to remember that at the end of The Matrix Revolutions, we see a young Sati next to the Oracle overlooking a brightly-colored sunrise, which apparently Sati created. The hues and color tone of that final scene in the matrix matches this color scheme, so it’s not exactly without precedent, despite it being definitely something new.

In the therapist’s home

We then pop into the office of a psychologist, played by Neil Patrick Harris, who is asking Neo (Thomas) about himself. We immediately see a black cat like the black cat Neo saw in The Matrix that was a deja vu, which was a glitch in the matrix and an indication that something was changed in the code of the matrix. This cat is walking across a desk with a porcelain bust of a head with different markings of the brain, and behind it are two butterflies (symbols of rebirth) in both red and blue, mirroring the red and blue pills from The Matrix as well.

The Therapist is wearing blue glasses and a blue vest, and we see yet another blue butterfly behind him.

Thomas Anderson tells the psychologist that he’s having “dreams that aren’t just dreams” and asks if he’s crazy. So clearly Neo has no memory of what he was in his past life, or who he was before he was reborn. We then see him meet Trinity, and with a handshake they seem to recognize each other, despite Trinity not recognizing him either, clearly a sign that she lost her memory as well.

Memory: A Theme for Matrix Resurrections

Earlier this year, Lana sold a prop piece from the movie set for charity, a plaque for a hovercraft with the name “Mnemosyne”, which was the greek god for memory. So clearly memory and memory loss will be a major theme in this film. This also matches similar themes of lives connected across time and generations that we saw in Sense8 and Cloud Atlas (which was directed by the Wachoskis and written by David Mitchell, the writer for the book the movie was based off of, and Tom Tykwer, who composed the musical score for Matrix Resurrections).

Blue Pills

In the next scene, we see Neo taking prescribed blue pills (which in Matrix Symbolism, a red pill was the pill to leave the matrix and wake up in the real world, whereas the blue pill was to forget and stay asleep in the matrix, symbolism present in the original Matrix film). The label on the pill bottle is Ontolofloxin, a made up drug whose name suggests an antibiotic for Ontology, or the study of existence.

Screen Zombies

We then see Neo in an elevator looking at a variety of people all staring at their screens like zombies, a subtle reflection of our current media-obsessed society.

The Oracle and Alice in Wonderland

Next we see Neo throw out his blue pills and go see who looks like a new Oracle, quite possibly a grown-up Sati played by Priyanka Chopra wearing red glasses (possibly a subtle parallel to the psychologist’s blue glasses) as she puts down the novel Alice in Wonderland. The symbolism of Alice in Wonderland was also present in the original Matrix film, with a mirror leading to a new world and references to the novel from Morpheus and Cypher. In this trailer, the song “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane plays throughout, with the words “go ask Alice” when Neo meets the Oracle in the trailer.

We next see Neo standing in front of a one such a mirror, and for a split second we see a balding Neo with a face that looks eerily similar to Agent Smith from the original trilogy. We know that Hugo Weaving will not be in the film, since he confirmed he was not able to join the cast due to a scheduling conflict, but there may be references to his character using digital animation similar to what we’ve seen with recent Star Wars movies bringing back actors digitally.

A New, Younger Morpheus

We then see Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character looking like a young Morpheus, including bare head and round small sunglasses, offering Neo a blue and red pill once again. I personally think Yahya could do a great job as a new, younger Morpheus, but like everyone else I don’t know yet why Morpheus is young while Trinity and Neo are old(er). That must have been a very intentional decision not to invite Laurence Fishburne back, since he was such a central character in the original trilogy and he probably would have said yes if he had been asked. It’s probably due to the script instead of any bad relationships between the two, so far as I know the Wachowskis had worked very well with Fishburne during the filming of the original trilogy.

Follow the White Rabbit

Next we see Jessica Henwick’s character, with a rabbit tattoo on her shoulder similar to the girl who also had a rabbit tattoo that led Neo to meet Trinity, following the orders on his computer to “Follow the White Rabbit.” What I found interesting from Henwick’s character is that she feels similar to a new kind of “Trinity” character, but with a British accent, which makes me wonder why Lana wanted Henwick’s character to at least sound British. She then leads Neo through a door of white light, similar to the white light doors we saw from Matrix Reloaded, and the two emerge from yet another liquid mirror.

Trinity Crying Code?

A few scenes later we see Neo holding Trinity’s hand, and we suddenly see green code start streaming down the side of her face, which I am very curious to see what it was. Perhaps it’s an indication that Trinity, like Neo perhaps, only exist in the Matrix at that point in time, and don’t have physical bodies yet.

After this we see Neo and a young Morpheus fighting in a dojo, just like we saw Neo learning Kung Fu fighting Morpheus in the original Matrix film.

Next we finally see some scenes of the real world, with the red pods of humans still plugged into the matrix, and a hovercraft floating through the ruins of a church.

Matrix 1 Projection in Matrix 4??!!

Then we see something particularly meta. We see a stage with a mirror, and a surveillance booth with military soldiers, but on the wall is projected Neo entering the Matrix from the first film! So a scene from Matrix 1 will be in Matrix 4. What could this possibly mean??

And So Much More

We also see more kung fu, a train fight scene, gun shootouts, corporate offices exploding in a building that may be called Deus Ex Machina, and Neo with a shaved head and a more modern neck plug connected into the Matrix, Trinity doing a special powered shout, gravity flipping (which we saw the Merovingian’s henchmen doing in Matrix Revolutions), wall running, agents entering human bodies in the matrix and dodging bullets, Henwick and someone else breaking through glass and falling toward the street (which Trinity did also in Matrix Reloaded, yet another parallel between Trinity and Henwick), Neo fighting someone in a train station (he fought Smith in what looks like the same underground train station in Matrix 1), Neo stopping bullets like he did in Matrix Reloaded at the Chateau, and finally…Neo and Trinity holding hands jumping off a skyscraper into the air, much like we saw in March of last year when they were filming in Alameda and San Francisco. This could very well be Keanu and Carrie-Anne actually doing their own stunts here between these 2 skyscrapers in San Francisco!

Also in the end scene with the credits we see some yellow code, which we saw in Matrix Revolutions as the way Neo sees the matrix, instead of the usual green code.

Want to Join the Conversation?

So those are all the major things I found! There was so much exciting content in this trailer that could all be unpacked and discussed and analyzed, but which unfortunately there isn’t enough time or space here on this blog post. If you’d like to add any additional comments on things you saw for this trailer, feel free to add them in the comments below. You can also check out the active Matrix subreddit for more discussions, or the Cyberpunk Matrix YouTube channel and comment on my reaction to this trailer in the comments there.

The Matrix Resurrections: Interactive Teaser Trailer

The Matrix 4: Resurrections Official Teaser Trailer

Breaking news for Matrix fans: Not only has Matrix 4 been confirmed to be titled The Matrix: Resurrections, but Warner Brothers have also suddenly released an interactive teaser trailer that can be found online at whatisthematrix.com, which will redirect to thechoiceisyours.whatisthematrix.com.

Also confirmed is that the official trailer will be released on September 9th, 2021 at 3pm CEST.

Whatisthematrix.com returns

Upon going to both web pages, the viewer is greeted with the same problem of choice that Thomas Anderson was given by Morpheus in The Matrix. CHOOSE YOUR REALITY proclaims the tab title, with only one phrase upon a white background: THE CHOICE IS YOURS presented with a red pill and a blue pill, once again.

“You take the blue pill, you wake up and believe, whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, and I show you how far the rabbit hole goes.”–Morpheus.

If you click the red pill, you will be shown a teaser trailer that corresponds to the exact time that you chose to take the red pill along with a voiceover by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. If you click the blue pill, you will be shown a slightly different, yet similar, teaser trailer that also corresponds to the exact time you chose to take the blue pill along with a voiceover by Neil Patrick Harris.

Amongst green and yellow code cascading both up and down the screen this time, the teaser trailer shows a variety of different scenes from the upcoming Matrix Resurrections film that promises not to disappoint, but that also have many similar themes to the original trilogy.

Twitter user @matrixresource noticed the many similarities already in a tweet:

We also finally had a chance to see what the color scheme and cinematography would look like, and many people are very excited with what they saw, myself included.

The scenes revealed showed us Jessica Henwick sporting blue hair firing a gun, Jonathan Groff losing the ability to speak, a new hovercraft that is surely the Mnemosyne (whose name was revealed when Lana Wachowski was donating the ship’s plaque prop earlier this year), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II looking at himself in a mirror, and many more. We also had a chance to see a variety of scenes with Neo: on a motorcycle seemingly controlling his surroundings with his hand, speaking with Trinity, and walking off the rooftop of a skyscraper.

Online Matrix fan and MxO Youtube Content Creator Vesuveus had nothing but praise for the trailer and its iterative variations & intelligent design.

There was actually another Cyberpunk Matrix content creator, yours truly, who could hardly contain his excitement. Enough so that he made a reaction video that you can now see on the Cyberpunk Matrix YouTube channel.

Although I am a little concerned about the use of too much CGI, which is all too easy to see nowadays, I am generally super excited and hopeful for The Matrix: Resurrections. The story seems very intriguing, the costumes and characters look great, but we will have to wait until Thursday’s actual trailer to get more information and a better impression. It will be great to see the old cast, and to see how the new cast do as well. As for the trailer delivery, I did truly love its interactive nature, it was very unique and refreshing–I certainly don’t know of any other film that has kept its production under wraps so well and then revealed a teaser trailer so mysteriously, with such a (to me) complex code.

The Matrix Campaign for Matrix Resurrections is Here

Finally, the marketing campaign for The Matrix Resurrections has  arrived. One user saw ads for the actual trailer coming in 2 days, and I can only imagine what additional marketing materials we will see coming our way in the next few months.

For more detailed thoughts and analysis, make sure to check out the live reaction video on the NeoMatrixology YouTube channel, as they did an excellent hour-long breakdown of their thoughts and impressions.

But what did you think? Did you like this new website, and the teaser trailer? Are you excited for the actual trailer to drop tomorrow? Will you be watching? Let me know in the comments below.

 

The Cyberpunk Matrix Podcast | Episode 3: Cyberpunk Novelist Matthew Goodwin discusses the Cyberpunk Genre

Welcome to the Third Episode of the Cyberpunk Matrix Podcast

In the Cyberpunk Matrix Podcast Episode 3,  I am joined by Cyberpunk writer and novelist Matthew Goodwin, creator of a 5-book Cyberpunk Saga starting with his first book, Into Neon.

In today’s podcast we discuss:

  • How Matthew defines Cyberpunk and how he got into the genre
  • What his favorite Cyberpunk Media are
  • How to recognize Cyberpunk tropes and stereotypes
  • What litRPG is and how it’s appearing in Cyberpunk media
  • Different kinds of Cyberpunk as they are appearing, in particular with his writing compared to other Cyberpunk media
  • How NaNoWriMo inspired both of us
  • The future of the Cyberpunk genre
  • The Cyberpunk community
  • How the Amazon series Upload fits in the Cyberpunk genre
  • The Matrix, and Matrix 4
  • Cyberpunk Day
  • And a lot more.

For more from Matthew Goodwin, all of his books are now available on Amazon. Hope you enjoy! Feel free to write your responses in the comments below, and if you’d like to be a guest or want some questions answered on the podcast, send us an email to thecyberpunkmatrix@gmail.com