Last Week in Cyberpunk 7/1/2017

American actress Sigourney Weaver in the role of Ripley in the film 'Alien'. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Reality can be harsh, and the reality is that cyber-freedoms are in more danger than ever, but there is still light at the end of the tunnel as long as we continue to fight. The media that we enjoy, itself, can be a great bastion of the necessary resistance to oppressive moves by governments all over the world.

Cyberpunk Reality

California Stands Up for Internet Privacy

Assemblyman Ed Chau, D-Monterey Park, announced the California Broadband Internet Privacy Act on Monday at the Capitol. Dan Morain

With the FCC going back on Obama era rules designed to allow internet users to have control over whether their information is sold or not, despite the fact that they were never implemented, under the guidance of the Trump administration, California Assemblyman Ed Chau has introduced the Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly Act of 2017, or BROWSER Act. The ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Common Sense Kids Action and Consumer Federation of California all support the bill because it would implement the power of user control of their information at the state level, when the federal government refuses to allow this freedom for the sake of corporate profits and this would set a powerful precedent for other states to follow. This bill is far from being made law, and it will likely face fierce opposition from the telecom industry, but should it succeed it will be an important step toward securing individual control of information and protecting the things that have made the internet a bastion of free expression.

Australia to Spearhead Ban on Strong surveillance

Australia Attorney General Logo

The war for the internet, anonymity, and privacy—all vital to the continuation of free expression globally—is at risk. Australian Attorney General, Senator George Brandis and Minister Peter Dutton have released a memo detailing their intention to demand that their partner nations join them in banning strong encryption and build back-doors into system to grant law enforcement the power to surveil their citizen’s communications completely at the coming Five Eyes surveillance alliance meeting. If successful, this would be a nail in the coffin of freedom world wide, effecting even countries outside of the Five Eyes surveillance alliance which includes Australia, US, UK, New Zealand, and Canada. Similar oppressive sentiments have been expressed by US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Cory Doctorow over at BoingBoing delivers a strong rebuttal to the effectiveness of this proposal and the possible repercussions of its implementation.

Google to Appeal €2.42 Billion Fine for Anti-Competitive Practices

Google Doodle

The European Union has levied a fine against Google in the amount of €2.42 billion for promoting its own shopping services over others in its search results. Although Google is a private company, the EU argues that due to its dominance of the search engine market, they should not be prioritizing their services over others in search results due to their unprecedented power over what users see. The investigatory commission found that in the wake of the purported abuses, “Google’s comparison shopping service has increased its traffic 45-fold in the United Kingdom, 35-fold in Germany, 19-fold in France, 29-fold in the Netherlands, 17-fold in Spain and 14-fold in Italy,” and that “rival comparison shopping services on the other hand dropped significantly. For example, the Commission found specific evidence of sudden drops of traffic to certain rival websites of 85% in the United Kingdom, up to 92% in Germany and 80% in France.” Google “respectfully disagrees” with these findings and plans to appeal the fines. If nothing else, this is an illustration of the kind of power that corporate internet behemoths wield and the threat to equality that they represent. On the other hand, they have ushered in new technologies that have existed previously only in the realm of fiction. The dilemma is that of progress vs. individual equality and freedom, we’d love to here your thoughts on this dichotomy.

China to Ban VPNs from App Stores

The Great Firewall of China – BoingBoing

VPNs have been banned by the Chinese government for sometime, unless they register with the government and provide access to their back-end to allow for censorship and surveillance—the same kind of system proposed by Australia above. Up until now, the Apple and Android app stores have carried VPN apps that allowed Chinese citizens to circumvent the ‘Great Firewall of China,’ but now these apps are expected to be dropped from accessibility to the Chinese populace. This comes in the wake of corruption allegations and mass unrest in Hong Kong related to rigged elections. This illustrates one of the weaknesses of the internet bottlenecks created by corporations such as Google and Apple—government compulsion.

Amazon Wants to Build Drone Delivery Towers

‘Multi-Level Fulfillment Center for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’ Concept

Amazon has patented a design for a tower that would act as the headquarters for automated delivery drones that the company has already begun testing. The patent calls this concept the “Multi-Level Fulfillment Center for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.” There would need to be a distribution center in any major city that Amazon would want to provide the service to, and this ‘hive’ would likely have an eerie buzz surrounding it like a bee hive, as you can imagine if you’ve ever heard the whir of a drone. Will these towers be new additions to the skylines of major cities?

 Cyberpunk Television

 William Gibson’s Hinterlands to be Adapted as Animated Series

Concept art from Hinterlands. All Images: Last Studio Standing

William Gibson’s short story Hinterlands, featured in the short story collection Burning Chrome, is to be adapted into an animated series by the studio, Last Studio Standing. The plan is to produce a pilot as proof of concept, that will lead into a series that if successful will be met with a second series. Jonathan Kitzen, CEO of Last Studio Standing, said in a press release,

“We know we can do more with it because animation is an all-powerful tool that can create anything. We plan on making something that looks like Gravity mixed with Blade Runner, and this story offers us a huge palette of possibilities, for about $100 million less than a traditional live action film.”

Io9 does a good job of summarizing the story briefly,

The short story, originally published in 1981, is about a Russian space station that goes missing, only to reappear years later with everyone dead. Soon, people realize any ship that goes to those coordinates disappears into a mysterious other place. Everyone who goes, dies—but then some of their remains start returning with clues about this other place.

Gibson’s work demand adaptation, and his lesser known works show less resistance from faithful fans to adaptation. We hope that this Gravity meets Blade Runner by way of Gibsonian cyberpunk happens and brings classic cyberpunk together with new conceptions of the genre. If you don’t already have this essential cyberpunk text in your possession, you can get a copy of Burning Chrome here, and read Hinterlands and many other fantastic stories by Gibson himself.

Cyberpunk Movies

Laura Harrier Joins the Cast of HBO Adaptation of Fahrenheit 451

Laura Harrier

Laura Harrier has been cast as Mildred “Millie” Montag, the wife of the Fahrenheit 451‘s protagonist Guy Montag, played by Michael B. Jordan in the film. In the original story Mildred is a drug and media addict, and based on the alternations to the story to update it, including the inclusion of social media, it is safe to assume that she will also be a social media addict in the film. There is still now tentative release date.

Jared Leto Joining Forces with OMNI

Jared Leto in Blade Runner 2049

Jared Leto, who will be appearing in Blade Runner 2049, has announced a partnership with the reincarnation of the magazine OMNI to produce original content. Leto said:

“Omni was an incredibly important part of my childhood. The magazine exposed me to the world of science and fiction through the work of some of the world’s best writers. We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership and bringing these stories to life and breaking some rules while we do it.”

There is no word yet about what these productions are going to look like, but if they follow in the legacy of OMNI, they are something to look forward to.

Sigourney Weaver May Return in Alien Franchise Digitally De-Aged

American actress Sigourney Weaver in the role of Ripley in the film ‘Alien’. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ridley Scott has voiced intentions to make as many as six more Alien films, and at least two of those will lead up directly to the original 1979 Alien. Scott says that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of Sigourney Weaver returning to the series through the use of digital de-aging technology:

“Scott will, it seems, be holding back some of his gruesome notions for future installments: he is planning at least two more films before linking up with the original Alien. “Right now we’ve got a ten-page synopsis,” he reveals. ‘John Logan’s doing it. And we know where we’re going with it.’ He is not ruling out the idea of using a digitally de-aged Sigourney Weaver to bring back Ripley: ‘You could do that,’ he allows. And Logan promises ‘different mutations’ of the Alien to come.” – Empire Magazine

What do you think of the prospect of Weaver returning to the franchise as her iconic character Ellen Ripley?

Cyberpunk Books

New Ray Electromatic Novel – Killing Is My Business

Killing Is My Business Cover

The Ray Electromatic series follows a robotic private eye, now turned hitman, in a retro-futuristic noir tale has a new installment called Killing Is My Business. The book is the fourth in the series following, Brisk Money, Made to Kill, and Standard Hollywood Depravity. The books official synopsis is:

Another golden morning in a seedy town, and a new memory tape and assignment for intrepid PI-turned-hitman―and last robot left in working order―Raymond Electromatic. But his skills may be rustier than he remembered in Killing Is My Business, the latest in Christopher’s robot noir oeuvre, hot on the heels of the acclaimed Made to Kill.

Killing Is My Business is currently available for pre-order.

The Punch Escrow is a New Novel that Channels The 6th Day

The Punch Escrow

The Punch Escrow is a forth coming novel from Tal M. Klein about a man who is duplicated in a teleportation accident and finds himself on the run and is reminiscent of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The 6th Day or Star Trek The Next Generation‘s Second Chances, where the character Commander Riker is duplicated in a transporter accident. The official synopsis is:

It’s the year 2147. Advancements in nanotechnology have enabled us to control aging. We’ve genetically engineered mosquitoes to feast on carbon fumes instead of blood, ending air pollution. And teleportation has become the ideal mode of transportation, offered exclusively by International Transport―the world’s most powerful corporation, in a world controlled by corporations.

Joel Byram spends his days training artificial-intelligence engines to act more human and trying to salvage his deteriorating marriage. He’s pretty much an everyday twenty-second century guy with everyday problems―until he’s accidentally duplicated while teleporting.

Now Joel must outsmart the shadowy organization that controls teleportation, outrun the religious sect out to destroy it, and find a way to get back to the woman he loves in a world that now has two of him.

The Punch Escrow is currently available for pre-order.

Cumulus to be Adapted as Serial Audio Drama for Bound

Cumulus by Bound

Cumulus, the fantastic cyberpunk novel that got the attention of William Gibson himself, is set to be adapted as a serial audio drama on the platform Bound. Bound is an app that “combines serialized prose, art and audio with community features from the best storytellers in “geek genres” like sci-fi, fantasy and thrillers.” Eliot Peper, the author of Cumulus said:

“Cumulus takes place in a world that we seem to be barreling into, tech consolidation, ambient AI, crumbling public institutions, escalating economic inequality, persistent surveillance, these are all things that have migrated from science fiction into reality. Bound’s platform will bring that world to life, enriching the narrative with original art and extras. It’s been a delight seeing how deep their sourcebook goes, and I can’t wait for fans to access it. We all read books, watch movies, and play games. But Bound is leveraging the malleability of digital media to build something new and unique, a perfect example of what the future of storytelling might look like.”

You can access this through the App Store, and you check out our review of Cumulus here.

Cyberpunk Comics

Lily System Visual from Young Comic Magazine

In the “mechanical girls” story, two high school girls discover a shabby machine in the back of a barn and it leads them to a strange world.

There is no news about when, or if, this manga will be coming to English speakers.

Did we miss anything this week? Let us know on social media or in the comments below!

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Veritas is a cyberpunk and writer who enjoys all aspects of the cyberpunk genre and subculture. He also journeys deeply into the recesses of the dissonance exploring his nihilistic existence. If you'd like to contact Isaac L. Wheeler (Veritas), the founder and editor-in-chief of Neon Dystopia, you can do so here:

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