As we roll into 2020, Maximum Mike Pondsmith wanted to tell you something. So here's a bonus #countdowntothedarkfuture. You can read Mike's full essay below the graphic.
Welcome to MY time choombas. Welcome to the Year 2020.
You may have noticed the cars don’t fly yet. But we have tiny boxes that can reach out across the world and cause robotic slaves to do our bidding. We shape metals and plastics to our personal wills, and yes indeed, we make real cyberware we can put on our children.
So, it looks like I got that part right.
But we also have inherited other 2020 things. We have more guns and weapons than we know what we do, and people are shot down every day. There isn’t enough money, not enough food, never enough drugs (except for the corporate approved ones). Our world is running on the edge of self-destruction from so many sources it’s an extinction roulette. And the Mega Corps do rule almost everything, from the stuff we buy on the vast consensual hallucination we call the Internet, to the entertainment we swallow like a braindance on stims, to our actual identities and scraps of personal privacy.
So, looks like I got THAT stuff right too.
From 1986 to now has been a long, long road. Gotta admit that I never thought we would all be running the Mean Streets together this long. And I sure never expected that the floodgates to the world of Night City would be open–no–kicked down–by a crew of hotshot video game devs who grew up playing Cyberpunk 2020. It’s been a great ride so far, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of millions of you, especially the RTG Crew and Family. Thank you–Dave, Will, Scott, Colin, Clive, Fritz, Derek, Mark, Dave, Mike, Chris, Benjamin, Matt, Bruce, Ed and (of course) Lisa. And that’s not counting the new generation of RTG; Cody, James, Jay, Jaye, J (man, can’t you guys get your own names!), Aron, Fran–and back for a rematch, Dave again. All of these people (and many more than this missive allows) have made all the fun, craziness and adventures we have shared over three decades, and which, thanks to the work of the esteemed J Gray, you have been given a guided tour for 365 days.
Glad you had fun. The ride is only gonna get wilder when 2077 ships. Brace for impact, choombas.
And one last thing.
When I wrote Cyberpunk back in the day, the idea was to show a dark mirror of the world we have been shaping since the 1980s. It was a warning, yes, but I also made all of you the heroes of this dystopian world. You weren’t there to be ground underfoot like Rick Deckard, or exploited and enslaved like Roy Batty. You were there to grab the wheel, steal the power, break the strangleholds of the corrupt and gun down the thugs they sent to crush you. You were, and still are, the heroes of the Cyberpunk Dark Future. I’ve shown you a way. It’s up to you to use it.
Go into this next decade fearlessly, savagely, cleverly, recklessly. It will fall to you and those like you, to face down the megacorps, the corrupt politicians, the thieves of privacy, honor and freedom itself and make our Dark Future a better one.
Yes. Cyberpunk became more real than we thought, hoped or feared. It will become moreso in the future. You, like other writers with a divine spark in your soul caught a glimpse of what is to come. The consequences will be staggering.
I think what many people fail to realize is that we're indeed already living in a cyberpunky world in reality. It might not seem like it to many because they might expect more neon glitter, visible augmentation in the human body and dark looming buildings but the tiny box part (in the post above) among other things rings true.
Comparatively, today's world might seem cyberpunk to someone from the 1950s (or 1980s). And don't start with flying cars now
Whether the dark fiction of this genre or many other games and movies will become reality is hard to tell. While apparently the rich become richer and the poor poorer, while a growing gap seems to cut through the middle class in many places, at the same time a lot just seems open.
In theory, anything could happen. It is up to people to make "anything" a reality. And while not everyone can change the world in a grand fashion, much like a drop of water cannot always sufficiently change the rest in a body of water, each and every one of us can do something within their possibilities to work towards a future that isn't shoddy.
If you realize this, (for the critics) words like above don't just remain fancy appeals or motivational lines people tend to forget about. They get real meaning and push or shove you (figuratively) to wake you up. They're serious appeals to push you into action.
What action? That's relative. It's different for everybody. Some might turn to actual activism (please don't get the pitchforks and try to rush every megacorp in existence ), for others it's a more 'conscious' lifestyle with perhaps less waste products, for others it might be journalism or politics they get into to try to change things for the better there, some might try to start a company or corporation that 'does it right', and so on. Sometimes it already helps to discuss such topics on the internet.
"Really?", you ask?
Yes, really. Don't tend to think you always have to do fancy physical things. While they shape reality in some measurable form, you sometimes can already reach out to people and change their perspective in a simple (online) debate.
So if you say "Oh, I cannot turn to activism, real politics, entrepreneurship, and all that" for whatever plausible reason that may exist, you can still open up your mouth and voice your opinion. You can reach people. And if you do it right, can even make people change their minds. Oh and you can vote, start or at least sign petitions, etc.
And thus, everyone can basically somehow, even with tiny baby steps, contribute to the future in some way shape or form.
Thanks to those tiny boxes.
On a closing note, I always considered such a dystopian dog-eat-dog world in a dense urban setting as thrilling, exotic and interesting - from our current, distanced position. I want to see it and witness it in the general Cyberpunk genre.
But I'm really not sure if I actually want to live in it.