Saturday, 18 October 2014

Six more Bounties on the Board (Ruralpunk Edition)

Flush with cash after the hacker crackdown in Florida, our intrepid cyberpunk era bounty hunters... probably spent it all on booze and cyberware, because genre conventions. That means a road trip!

These bounties all have a Ruralpunk whiff about them (marijuana, pig slurry and coal dust!). This can be attributed to my usual obsessions, and the fact I'm half way through an Elmore Leonard book set in Kentucky.

Featuring: Dog Fighting! Terrorism! Cheerleading!

1. Nancy Fry
Price: $4000
Wanted by: City Police

Nancy Fry is a ripperdoc with an unusual speciality: designing, producing and installing cyberware for fighting animals, particularly dogs. She had a hidden clinic set up in the city, with 3d printers for the materiel and a surgery centre. 

Now she's on the run after animal rights activists located her base of operations and trashed it, revealing it to the police in the process. Right now she's up a strip-mine blasted mountain with the country-Frys (less refined, more inbred than the city-Frys) waiting for the police to forget about her. Her priority is to replace her equipment. The problem isn't money, but acquiring unregistered machines and setting them up somewhere private. Entrepreneurial Bounty Hunters could use her to uncover an entire world of printer-hackers and electricity thieves. 

If you saw Nancy Fry walking down a suburban street you'd make her for a put-upon housewife. She has neuralware, cybereyes with magnification and elaborate tool fingers, but she relies on gun-totin' varmint-huntin' country-Frys for protection. 

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cyberpunk Appendix N Part 5: Hardwired!

Another season, another instalment of the Cyberpunk Appendix N, all about cyberpunk, post cyberpunk and sorta-maybe-inspiring-perhaps-maybe? cyberpunk. Once again, the subject of this column isn't what I claimed it would be at the end of the last Appendix N post. I've decided just to give up on making plans for this series. 

The last Appendix N post covered the magical realist tendency in the genre. Today we return to hard, burnished chrome.

This post is about two novels that concern pilots and their futuristic machines. If you're a fan of Shadowrun's rigger class, you want to know all about Hardwired. If your rigger came into eight million nuyen and used it to buy bleeding-edge drones, making you and the rest of the team utterly obsolete, Yukikaze might reflect your mood. Either way, this post is going to be all about jet turbines and heat seeking missiles.

"But he's called himself a citizen of the free and immaculate sky too long to accept the notion that his world of air has bars on it."

When people talk about the Cyberpunk genre - the 1980s literary movement, that lasted roughly a decade from Neuromancer through to Snow Crash - they tend to discuss a canon of classic novels. Neuromancer, Pat Cadigan's Synners, Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix, Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and Walter Jon Williams' Hardwired (and Rudy Rucker's Software and John Shirley's unjustly forgotten Eclipse and George Alec Effinger's When Gravity Fails, before I get angry emails...).

Hardwired even got a classic (some people would argue the best) Cyberpunk 2020 sourcebook, written by the same author. It's a great gaming resource. It put me off reading the novel for years.

The sourcebook made Hardwired seem generic. It had a lead character called "Cowboy" who teams up with a cyber'd up female assassin. The cover made them look like extras in Cherry 2000. In my head I built up Hardwired to be the ur-source of every generic B-movie and bad cyber-hacker-samurai novel to crowd the second hand bookshop shelves where I spend too much of my time. 

The sourcebook had all sorts of neat stuff in it. New "realistic" firearms and armour rules. New "realistic" hacking rules. Some interesting adventures. And maybe a page about Panzerboy smuggling, the subject matter that makes Hardwired into something really special.