I have seen the future…

Cover image of "The Psychic Tourist"…It’s 2033: Climate change has left half of the world’s cities underwater. Every so often a Black Wind blows in, suffocating anyone who crosses its path in a dense cloud of killer toxins. Our cellphones are no longer separate from our bodies; they have been implanted in our heads. Cars, buses, trains and planes can steer themselves. We have semblants (computer generated versions of ourselves) we can send to the office in our place if we don’t feel like working. Criminals are sent to the UnMinded Cellblock, where their brains are switched off and they serve their time as obedient zombies, ignorant to the passing years.

Or at least this is the future John Shirley has envisaged for us, in his novel Black Glass: The Lost Cyberpunk Novel. John Shirley is pals with William Gibson, the godfather of cyberpunk . You may remember me mentioning Mr Gibson a while ago, when I first embarked on my Five Book Challenge. I have to say though (please don’t sneer at me) I think I like John Shirley better. He reminds me of American crime writer Don Winslow. His writing style may not be quite as creative and literary as his fellow cyberpunker, but it is much easier to read, get absorbed in and be entertained by.

Black Glass captures what I am beginning to learn is the essence of good cyberpunk: a hero who is a bit rough around the edges but charming nonetheless; femme fatales who are not afraid to use their sex appeal and cunning to their advantage; narcissistic villains who you love to despise; and a bleak and dangerous environment where the reader gets swept up in the thrill of the chase . Basically it’s crime noir with a technological, futuristic twist.

So if  the future John Shirley has predicted includes robots, illegal and addictive virtual reality games, and spy cameras that hover in the air like flies, what kind of future do you predict? In the year 2033, what will the world look like?

5 thoughts on “I have seen the future…

  1. Helen Lowe 26 October 2010 / 12:46 pm

    I am not sure that I am prepared to hear a word against William Gibson, not-a-word … 🙂

    But you have persuaded me that I have to check John Shirley out!

    • onederccl 26 October 2010 / 1:28 pm

      Now just so we’re clear, I’m not saying that William Gibson’s writing is not as good as John Shirley’s. They are different – Mr Gibson is the more literary of the two. I simply prefer the John Shirley because he’s a bit easier on my cyberpunked-out brain :-p

  2. robertafsmith 26 October 2010 / 1:07 pm

    Go the semblants!

    • onederccl 26 October 2010 / 1:31 pm

      Trust me Roberta, you won’t be saying that if you read the book…

  3. richard 26 October 2010 / 3:07 pm

    I haven’t read John Shirley – but he sounds good! I wonder if some of Christchurch’s different thinkers got together what our future might look like? Elsie Locke, Ettie Rout and Professor Bickerton would have us living in a very different city!
    Thomas Edmonds, who left his architectural legacy all around the city, was an adherent of the Radiant Health movement – the Radiant Hall became the Repertory Theatre. What would a future ‘Radiant’ Christchurch look like? Or perhaps Jared Lane shows it best in his cartoons?

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