Sunday, August 14, 2016

Our Modern Cyber-Dystopia

I tend to see cyberpunk as an early-computer-age sci-fi remix of noir's genre tropes. Futurism of the fringes, fascinated with futility. Over on the Monsters and Manuals blog, noisms casts some thought toward what cyberpunk would look like if derived from now rather than the 1980s.
Modern cyberpunk is grass verges that are overgrown because the council can't afford to have them cut. Modern cyberpunk is abandoned industrial estates with trees growing up through the car parks. Modern cyberpunk is white-elephant airports that never had passengers or planes and have now gone to seed. Modern cyberpunk is entire towns overgrown with weeds because nobody walks anywhere anymore and only the roads need to be clear. Modern cyberpunk is waste ground full of long grass, wild flowers, nettles and bees' nests, strung out between shuttered factories. It is former farms half-reclaimed by nature because GM crops take so much less space. It is banks of solar panels and wind farms with greenery flourishing in between. It is school playing fields re-wilded through disuse. Modern cyberpunk is green.
Whether this is cyberpunk I think may be debatable, but I don't believe the observation and the sentiment behind it can be denied. As the automation age has moved out of the confines of the purely mechanical and into the realm of mathematics, its pace accelerates. At least some parts of society have not been able to adapt fast enough, or, for the more Darwinian-inclined, are being selected against. Our modern dystopia. The world as a whole is better off than ever before. And yet...

We (in America) seem to stand poised in a place where the work force is shrinking, the social safety nets are tenuous, 'The Media' is holding on by a thread, governments loudly doing nothing has given better reelection results than actually fixing anything, and no matter how much productivity improves the Corporations just want more. So yeah, maybe this is the new aesthetic of the fringe.