If Science Fiction is my chocolate, then cyberpunk is my Peanut M and Ms. I’ve adored it since my first viewings of Blade Runner and The Matrix, and my favourite novel of all time – Altered Carbon, by the wonderfully bleak Richard Morgan – carries more robotically-enhanced transhumanism, dystopic future vision and disgustingly-hideous artificially-influenced antagonists than you can poke a cattle prod at. I’ve always been attracted to the dark imagery, the grotesque marriage of cybernetics and the biological, the abandonment of human morals in the pursuit of longer living and having a cannon instead of a forearm.
During a recent re-read of my aforementioned favourite novel, I found myself sinking back into the familiar embrace of the funereal genre as Takeshi Kovacs moved from electronically-dominated whorehouse to synethtic-humanoid-operated fightdrome, all with his usual dry sarcasm and misanthropic introspection. It reminded me of my first time delving into Morgan’s futuristic vision at the young age of 15, astounded by just how horrific the coming days could well be for our race. You might even say Altered Carbon was the catalyst for a lot of my writing, even if it doesn’t come from a place of austere cyberpunk dystopia – Intersections, and the character of Julian Vail in particular, owes a lot to the way Kovacs was written, and the Swarm, while taking biological enhancements more reminiscent of the Yuuzhan Vong than cyborgs, were in part inspired by Morgan’s transhuman depictions of several antagonists within the book.
As I once again read of Kovacs utter destruction of the Wei Clinic and his rather intense proclivity towards having lots of sex with locals, I got back to the writing table. Remember a while ago I posted an entry about having writer’s block and needing a sledgehammer to get through it? Well my re-read was ten thousand sledgehammers backed up by a platoon of rocket-powered steam shovels.
So I think this will be the norm from now on; if I’m ever plagued by writer’s block as intense as it has been for the past few months, all I need to do is crack open an old favourite – whether it’s Altered Carbon, Outbound Flight, The Name of the Wind or The Wheel of Time – and remember why it is that I’m writing in the first place, and what it is that really inspires me to write the stories I write. And hopefully not rip those stories off too much.