Cyberpunk 2077: Struggles of a Genre

Cyberpunk 2077 Keanu Reeves

Cyberpunk 2077 was released not long ago, after almost a decade’s worth of development since its original announcement. The oddly generic title is due to the fact that it was an adaptation of a tabletop roleplaying game of a similar name, which fans hoped would mean the game had a vast amount of lore to draw upon and develop. You might expect that, as a writer in this particular genre, I was eagerly awaiting the release of such a major title… but something about it felt off. I was sure it was vaporware at this point, something destined never to be released. And should it ever make it to (digital) shelves, I was afraid it would be the next Duke Nukem Forever. While the game’s not quite that bad off, it sure hasn’t lived up to years’ worth of hype. But we’ll set that aside for the moment to look at just why this highly anticipated release managed to fall to a place where it was removed from the Playstation’s digital shop.

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Star Trek: Picard, and the Concept of Sequel Series

Star Trek Picard Sequel Series

As I write this, we are just two days away from something many Star Trek fans thought would never happen: the return of Patrick Stewart to the role of Captain Jean Luc Picard. While we haven’t seen even an episode of the show yet, it’s clearly not The Next Generation, whether fans want that or not. But what does it mean to revisit such a classic, impactful character in a sequel series all these years later? Why is now the time, and what can Picard bring to us that some other character couldn’t? And, for those of us who’ve dealt with major franchises before, what makes a series like this different from just another spin-off, like Voyager or Stargate Atlantis? Let’s take a look, here in 2020.

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4 Phrases Spawned by Sci-Fi — Friday Four

Shot of General Grievous from the Star Wars Prequels.

Some movies are just so eminently quotable that the dialog takes on a life of its own. People sometimes won’t even realize what it is that they’re quoting–the film has just become that pervasive in popular culture that even people who haven’t watched it might reference it. For a recent example, we’ve seen almost every line of dialog from the Star Wars prequel trilogy turned into a meme over the last few years. Post a comment online somewhere that says “Hello there,” and you’ll have a reply within minutes adding “General Kenobi!”

Of course, this sort of thing is not limited to the prequels. Let’s look at some of the most famous lines and phrases in pop culture and how they got their start.

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A Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer: Galaxy Express 999

Galaxy Express 999 title card

In a shocking turn, the Obscure SF Primer is back, ready to look at Galaxy Express 999, after nearly a year’s absence. If you want to know why, you can read here about what’s kept me from writing. Enough of that, though; let’s get on with the article!

Galaxy Express 999 is a 1977 anime that’s both little known in the west and extremely influential. It was created by Leiji Matsumoto and set in the so-called “Leijiverse,” which consists of other classic anime series such as Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Space Battleship Yamato. It has the fairly bizarre premise of being set on an intergalactic train which travels along the invisible space rails from planet to planet, stopping only for one day’s worth of local time (which can be as short as a few hours to several days) before moving on to the next destination–whether all passengers are aboard or not. You might think this doesn’t sound very sci-fi; after all, a space train is just whimsical fantasy, especially when it seems to literally operate like a steam engine. Still, the core ideas at the heart of this series are the same ones that play a role in countless others, regarding what it means to truly be human, and the cost of achieving immortality. With that said, let’s dive into Galaxy Express 999.

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Back to Business

Hello to any remaining readers, or anyone who stumbles across this site once again. Thought I’d explain a little about what’s been happening to me before I start posting content again. The real article will be posted right after this, so you can skip on ahead to that if you aren’t interested.

Since the last post, I had quite a lot happen that’s kept me from working on… well, anything I wanted to. A number of bad things happened, but there’s one major incident that’s influenced everything else. In September 2018, I was hit pretty hard by hurricane Florence. The damage still hasn’t been repaired; I ended up leaving town due to dangerous living conditions a few weeks afterward, and spent the proceeding months living as a guest with my girlfriend’s family while trying to get what of my belongings had survived together, find a new job, and find somewhere to live more permanently. Finally, just a few months ago, I managed to do all of that and am now living outside of Raleigh, NC. It’s been busy, but things are much better overall, and I’m settled in enough that I can get back to writing for the site. Views have unsurprisingly tanked, given the lack of activity, but I don’t think it’s unsalvageable, so I’m gonna give it another shot starting with this month.

I’m likely going to aim for posts on a monthly basis from this point forward; I can’t promise you what they’ll be, necessarily, but it’s likely going to be a mix of what we’ve seen in the past and some new twists. One of the main changes I’m planning on is a greater inclusion of anime, as I’ve hit on a lot of the live action shows I intended to already and anime’s is a relatively untapped area of sci-fi as far as this site goes. If anime’s not your thing, I get that, but it’s always been one of mine and hey, it’s my site after all. You don’t have to watch it, in the end, but I hope these articles will be interesting even to those who aren’t invested in anime, as many of these works have been influential both inside and outside of Japan. With works like Battle Angel Alita and Ghost in the Shell receiving western film adaptations, and series like Cowboy Bebop getting the Netflix treatment, a working knowledge of anime just might come in handy. It’s been going the other way, as well, with Blade Runner 2049 having inspired an in-the-works anime adaptation, which is looking like something that shouldn’t be missed for fans of that franchise.

Beyond that, I might experiment with some new article types altogether, and with any luck I’ll actually be able to get some fiction writing done again. There was a new series in the works prior to my life being upended, which I hope you all will enjoy when you eventually get to see it. It means a lot to me. Not much else to say, really; I’ve mostly disconnected from social media, so I’m not sure if I will revive those along with the site, but if I decide not, you can still get updates on convention appearances and book shows through the mailing list. I don’t have any plans to venture outside of NC for the foreseeable future, anyway, so they were only relevant to a fairly small crowd to begin with.

Hope you enjoy the return to form, and let me know what you think of any new articles in the comment sections.

4 Tips for Tackling Time Loops — Friday Four

Ever get the feeling that you’ve been through all this once before? Maybe it was more familiar than you thought–trapped in a time loop, reliving the same period of time over and over again with barely anyone even realizing it. You can’t just tell people about it; they’ll think you’re crazy, after all, even when they’ve experienced far more bizarre things in the past. But it can’t be left alone, either, and you just happen to be the unlucky fool that’s aware of it enough to do something. Besides, if you aren’t crazy at the start of time loop, you might be after a few hundred repetitions. So let’s save a little time and get down to business breaking it, eh?

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4 of the Most Dangerous Sci-Fi Artifacts–Friday Four

When you’re living in a universe where your alien forefathers were less than cautious, there’s a serious risk you have to consider when dealing with the artifacts they’ve left behind–and that’s the possibility of an unexpected superweapon. After all, their weapons don’t have to look anything like what our weapons do, and it’s not like they’ve kept the instruction manual lying around, either. You might think you’d be safe, since these ancient weapons haven’t been used in thousands of years, but early alien predecessors had a tendency to build things to last, and hooked in to natural power sources that just don’t quit. Here’s a few of the oldest and most dangerous artifacts discovered… so far.

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A Subjectively Obscure Sci-Fi Primer: Star Cops

Star Cops TitleIt’s time for another edition of the Primer! We’re back at the end of the month with a British sci-fi/police procedural series that bears the rather unimaginative title of Star Cops. Set in the far off year of 2027, there’s now enough offworld presence that an international police force is established to help maintain law and order in the final frontier. Of course, like all international endeavors, that means a lot of nationalistic posturing and power struggles, on top of tight budgets and low manpower… this is starting to sound familiar, isn’t it? Don’t worry; the show takes a completely different, more realistic approach, but the question remains. Will Star Cops prove to be a bit more creative than its name would lead you to believe, or is it as inane as you fear?

Let’s take a look.

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4 Dangers of the Alternate Reality — Friday Four

That planet you’re orbiting may look familiar, but how can you be sure it’s the one you left behind? After all, whether you’re getting around with hyperspace, subspace, or something more exotic entirely, you’re leaving the normal universe, with its well understood physical laws, behind. If even the slightest thing goes wrong (or right), you might find yourself in a world both unsettlingly alien and uncomfortably close to home. Alternate universes, where your closest friends are dire enemies or the human race has succumb to tyranny. The rules of these places may go against everything you’ve fought for, but it’s hard enough to save one universe–to try to set things right in all the infinite universes is a task not even Sisyphus would envy.

No, the best you can hope for is to get home (which, if you ask Dr. Sam Beckett, is easier said than done), and here are some of the ways to make sure that happens.

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4 Ways to Beat the Cloaking Device — Friday Four

Ah, the cloaking device–bane of spacefaring warriors the multiverse over. How can you explode what you can’t see? It’s a question that’s hard for even the most brilliant minds to reliably answer, and let’s be honest, the warrior races of the galaxy aren’t exactly known for their critical thinking skills. But, from our perch outside the conflict, perhaps there are a few patterns we can spot that will crack this wide open, and defeat our cloaked menace once and for all.

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