21 November 2011
To Dream of Electric Sheep
I grew up on science fiction and fantasy and have loved them both since before I could read. My mother would come home with bags of books from the library and I would get to go through them and pick out the covers I liked. She’d read me the blurbs and explain the story and we’d decide which one to start first. Throughout her reading, I would come back and get chapter updates, or what at four years old I thought was chapter by chapter, and I got to experience the twist and turns of faraway worlds and duplicitous human nature.
I learned to read later that same year, but I got those updates until I was eight and could read the same books on my own. By then, I knew the kinds of worlds that waited for me and I couldn’t wait. Much to my delight it would only get better, as sub-genres grew and spawned sub-genres of their own. Cross-genre works would further open the field, and by the time I would start publishing some twenty plus years later, the doors of what could be done would be thrown wide open.
Despite my absolute love of Cyberpunk and its subgenres Biopunk and Nanopunk, I don’t embrace the dystopian mindset of technology as our downfall. Blame or credit Star Trek as you will, but I have the fundamental belief that technological advancement, is human advancement. And as it has for my lifetime so far, technology will continue to make things easier, make the world smaller and make democracy a truer force.
The terms I’ve come across to embody that belief are NeoCyberpunk and Cyberprep, but I use Futurist Paranormal to describe my genre. My stories brim with shifters, psychics, ghost and vampires, all set in near-future worlds. The open acknowledgement of the supernatural and acceptance of possibilities, directly results in more advanced day to day technology. It has touches of cyberpunk and biopunk, with the pervasiveness of the technology and biological implants/manipulation, but the technology has merely moved us forward, often for the better. The worlds still have their issues, but the society has clearly embraced scientific advancement on all fronts.
That’s not to say I don’t have a story or three in the back of my head that's dark and harsh. I love the post-apocalyptic genre as well, and I have my fair share of catastrophic plotlines to come. There’s just something darkly beautiful about watching humanity persevere against the odds. But when it comes to the prediction of technology and its applications, I feel that as long as communication tech keeps us informed, and science is tempered by ethics, we’re more than on track to live better, rather than suffer at the hands of our own genius.
I’m happy to admit that I didn’t set out to write futurist fiction. I didn’t even originally recognize that I’d done so. It came to me as a logical extension of preternatural minds in the tech field, able to advance unchecked. I realized the habit only after seeing it written about me by a reviewer. I sat back and realized that every single story done, and all of those in queue at the time, had the same futurist bent. It just goes to show, we write what we’re drawn to and can’t escape the things we love and the journeys that define our worldview.
What about all of you? What subgenres do you draw from again and again within your work? What are your thoughts on future tech and where it will take us?
*The title of this post is from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick . The book is the basis for movie Blade Runner. The image is from Tokyocypberpunk.com