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About Companero

  • Rank
    21st Century Digital Boy
  • Birthday 21/11/1986

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  • Location
    The United Kingdom
  • Interests
    Cyberpunk, oddly enough

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  1. Thank you! STERLING JAM GLOBALHEAD by Bruce Sterling. I own almost every important cyberpunk short story collection and have read half the stories in each of them. When I say I've just finished Globalhead, I mean "I just picked my way through the book trying to work out which stories I didn't read in 2007 and then read those ones." Globalhead is a collection of stories written by Sterling at the end of the 1980s, when he was in peak I AM THE ON THE PULSE OF THE INTERNATIONAL TECHNOLOGICAL CONDITION hubris mode. Most of the stories are set in the present they were written in or a very near future redefined by one or two new technologies, and feature criminals and burn-outs. There are basically three major inspirational modes - The Iran-Iraq War - The decay of the Cold War superpowers - Being a burnt-out hippy plus those old Sterling obsessions, "weird ghosts telling people how they're going to die" and "foreigners looking at America, and being confused and horrified." A couple of these stories feel like sledge-hammer subtle in-jokes. When I was a teenager, I thought that ultra-near future fiction about cultural contact and change was the best thing cyberpunk did, and wrote some bad Sterling imitation-fic . I have different views now, but I still think some of these stories are among the best Sterling every wrote. Hollywood Kremlin in particular, about a fixer with a cruel streak navigating the fall of the Soviet Bloc, would be on any Best-Of-Cyberpunk list I ever write. ZEITGEIST by Bruce Sterling Because Hollywood Kremlin is one of two Leggy Starlitz stories in Globalhead, this feels like a good time to talk about Zeitgeist, a full-length novel about the same character. I read this novel years and years ago, and its still one of my absolute favourites. Leggy Starlitz is a cynical fixer with a talent for finding the weirdest criminal circuits going and an unexpected
  2. I spent most of today covertly reading a novel about an AI made of wasps, instead of doing any real work. Catching up with novels from the reading list... SLANT by Greg Bear The sequel to Queen of Angels. Also a sprawling political novel with non-descript characters and Big Ideas about The Future, although the ideas in / are less original than those in the original. It takes a really, really long time to get going. That said, the latter half of the book is tense and interesting. The antagonists become far more interesting when put under pressure. It's also a nice entry in the Greg Bear mini-genre: "rich people get fucked by the design flaws in their corporate designed transhuman upgrades." FOOLS by Pat Cadigan The sequel to Mindplayers. One of those Pat Cadigan novels in which its unclear who the characters are, what their motivations are, or what the stakes are - but it's alright because the characters don't know either, and you figure it out faster than they do, allowing yourself to feel smart . This is a really funny book, which makes up for the constant vertigo. I read it in two sittings. DR ADDER by KW Jeter This book came with an introduction from PK Dick complaining that it took a decade to get the novel published, thereby missing the window for it to achieve it's radical, shocking potential. The original draft predates cyberpunk and definitely seems intended to shock people. Instead, having missed the window, it just reads as a Baby Boomer yelling at the TV. A generic cyberpunk urban wilderness full of TV gangs and mutilated prostitutes serves as a battle for the same old "televangelist vs macho rocker hero" cyberpunk I've read elsewhere. Compared to Cadigan and Carter and Greg Bear there's nothing here. Not shocking, just edgy. CRYSTAL EXPRESS by Bruce Sterling Excellent early short story collection, except that i'd already read half of it - several of the stories are in Schismatrix, and Green Days in Brunei is single cyberpunk short story anthology ever. Most of the stories - half of which are fantasy stories with historical settings - concern societies in technological transition. Sterling loves his prophets of technology. In one story, an 18th century scientist is berated by the spirits of the medieval era as he ushers in the Enlightenment, and in another the wealthy denizens of a wealthy medieval west African city dismiss a prophet of doom as light entertainment. Quite a few of the stories here feel like fables or morality plays. BONE DANCE by Emma Bull An interesting genre bending novel set in a post-apocalyptic America putting itself back together after an assault by the Psychic "Horsemen," where high tech exists but the electricity to turn it on is frequently unavailable. It's a good Fixer novel - full of deals and hustling and a million different characters, all washed over with some 1990s Goth/New Age-y-ness that I found irritating in the actual 1990s but am a little nostalgic for now. There are tarot cards and vodou priests everywhere, and I can practically smell the joss sticks. Emma Bull went onto be one of the main progenitors of the Urban Fantasy genre, and you can see that here.
  3. All that time we were talking about Polish cyberpunk, and Mike never mentioned the band Siekiera. How could we ever do Cyberpunk Poland justice without this on in the background? It sounds like the soundtrack to Jean Reno being chased down a subway tunnel by a robot subway train while piloting a flying car!
  4. Berlin's sewer system was built for a much larger city expecting to get even larger and so is notoriously full of big empty spaces (and apparently in summer so little passes through it compared to what it was built for that large parts of it stand stagnant and stink out regions of the city...).
  5. Companero


    It's basically Neuromancer: the movie - a burn-out hires a group of misfits who use a consensual hallucination to steal from a dysfunctional family in a world of faceless megacorporations... Dreamhacking is definitely something to add to a CP game
  6. SATURDAY NIGHT SCREAMSHEET RETURNS, ON A WEDNESDAY. Featuring heavy metal dance-offs! A D20 neo-nazi generator you didn't think you needed and probably still don't! http://vircadesproject.blogspot.co.uk/2017...-3.html´╗┐
  7. *blink* JANUARY WAS THE LAST TIME I UPDATED THIS? WHAT? I suppose I got lost in a haze of short story collections. I tend to read them one story at a time, then go onto a different collection, soooo Anyway, THE FORTUNATE FALL by Raphael Carter One of the books I was most looking forward to reading as part of this project. I'd never actually heard of this book before seeing it referenced in obscure game bibliographies. It certainly isn't a part of the recognised "canon." But people who have heard of it tend to rave about it - this great undiscovered novel, the flash in the pan that should have presaged a new heroic career, etc. And it is a very good book, about fascism and trauma and sexuality and love and agency and violation and a million other things. Decades before the novel is set, American fascists overran most of the world and implemented a horrific regime of concentration camps and cybernetic experimentation. Faced with this, a group of hackers unleashed a truly horrifying weapon to bring down their regime - genuinely one of the most apocalyptic ideas I've seen in science fiction. Decades after, with society picking itself up after that conflagration, a wired reporter goes searching for data about the original genocide, convinced that the new government is perpetuating a cover-up. For some reason it just didn't click with me. I don't know what why, because every individual aspect of it was great. Something about the prose, maybe, although I can't define what. A coldness, perhaps? That hasn't stopped me before - I fucking love Bruce Sterling Maybe this isn't the right year, or even the right decade, for me to be reading a novel about internet enabled fascism. The best definition of science fiction I've ever read is "SF is the genre with the most literal attitude to metaphor" and this book delves into some deep fears of mine regarding the way a person's search history bears their soul to faceless observers (i'm a huge introvert, which makes me a kind of a kind of mafioso of the heart - don't tell nuthin' to nobody!). Maybe that's why I couldn't properly enjoy it.
  8. Use some version of D&D 5e's 3 strikes and out death save when they go out of action. I think if you did that you wouldn't find it much more lethal than 1st level 5e D&D, actually (which is to say I've killed more characters in that style of play than I did in CP2020, but...). You might also want to cut Stun/Shock out entirely, or nerf it somehow. If you do that, you might find that CP2020 is less lethal than low level D&D (CP2020 characters can take a few 9mm rounds!). Or reduce REF penalties for damage. Also, it's gutterpunk. Milspec and full auto weapons don't have to be easy to come by, at least not before the team understands the stakes. Honestly, in terms of damage, the main difference between 1st level 5e and CP2020 is that 5e D&D characters stand back up much faster if (when!) they go down. Maybe if you introduce some kind of tech that lets that happen - even something a little unrealistic like a stimulant (did you ever play any Far Cry games, where the dude is constantly sticking adrenaline into himself?), I think things will be much less overtly lethal. I'm not saying have it like my last D&D game where 5 characters went down 11 times in one combat, but... And it's always good practice with a new system to run an easy combat encounter in the first 15 minutes just so everyone can get a handle on the rules. One or two pistol hits won't obliterate the party but will teach them some tricks. ------------------------- All that said, Malek77 ran long campaigns in which everyone had lots of milspec guns and everyone used full auto all the time and characters survived, just because he handed out lots of body armour and things like that. CP2020's high lethality reputation is partly because of GMs (like teenage me!) not accepting that that stuff is in the game for a reason, rule of cool be damned
  9. Merchanter's Luck is one of my favourite novels ever. It's so taut and claustrophobic and gothic. It's absolutely the best Deep Space inspiration. I brought Malek77 a copy when I was in Sydney. I find Cherryh's work rides a line for me. She loves to put her characters into physically and socially claustrophobic situations. Depending on the exact level of that, I either find her novels wonderful or almost unread-ably horrible. Not because they're bad - the opposite, in fact - but just because it's tapping into a personal nightmare. I think I read Heavy Time in 20 page bursts over several years, because I didn't have the emotional fortitude to do it faster! I've got Rimrunners and at least two others on the pile, but i'm not in a mental state to attempt them yet .
  10. I've now managed to miss posting things in my pile for three weekends in a row. I've also developed a pathological aversion to the sound of fire alarms, which isn't a coincidence. It might have inspired this over-the-top Collateral Damage table, for when PCs miss. http://vircadesproject.blogspot.co.uk/2017...t-not-miss.html
  11. I have to admit, I don't really get the stitcher rounds, rules wise (as cool as they are - did you ever play early 40k, with the "Harlequins Kiss?" - a somehow less cool and definitely less plausible version of the same thing...) I'm definitely always in favour of weird-but-plausible sci-fi guns tho!
  12. Binh Xuyen reference FTW. They really were the most cyberpunk organisation ever to exist, and in the 1950s as well Also, Dominic Teeth
  13. That all sounds great, and doesn't step on anything I have planned (Also, I looked at a map of Florida to remind myself where Key Largo is, and discovered that Fort Lauderdale is SOUTH of Palm Beach, so I've already wrecked my plan. Suggestions that I went through the Kasha post and changed every reference to Fort Lauderdale to Palm Beach are FAKE NEWS)
  14. I'm going to have to save this, 'cos it's something I've had problems with in the past (I tend to just shoot at players until they decide to intervene in the plot and in the game). You know, I was putting aside the idea of a "spy" book because it was too close to Darkness Visible, but there's a whole new layer of possibility implicit in this post. I have to think some more...
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