“Cypherpunks write code. We know that someone has to write software to defend privacy, and since we can’t get privacy unless we all do, we’re going to write it. We publish our code so that our fellow Cypherpunks may practice and play with it. Our code is free for all to use, worldwide. We don’t much care if you don’t approve of the software we write. We know that software can’t be destroyed and that a widely dispersed system can’t be shut down.”
That’s some heavy stuff right there. Fight the good fight, Cypherpunks.
Then list to some equally heavy beats, courtesy of Borracho! and Cyberpunkers
“Panther Moderns,” he said to the Hosaka, removing the trodes. “Five minute precis.”
“Ready,” the computer said.
It wasn’t a name he knew. Something new, something that had come in since he’d
been in Chiba. Fads swept the youth of the Sprawl at the speed of light; entire subcultures
could rise overnight, thrive for a dozen weeks, and then vanish utterly. “Go,” he said. The
Hosaka had accessed its array of libraries, journals, and news services.
The precis began with a long hold on a color still that Case at first assumed was a
collage of some kind, a boy’s face snipped from another image and glued to a photograph
of a paint-scrawled wall. Dark eyes, epicanthic folds obviously the result of surgery, an
angry dusting of acne across pale narrow cheeks. The Hosaka released the freeze; the boy
moved, flowing with the sinister grace of a mime pretending to be a jungle predator. His
body was nearly invisible, an abstract pattern approximating the scribbled brickwork
sliding smoothly across his tight one piece. Mimetic polycarbon.
Cut to Dr. Virginia Rambali, Sociology, NYU, her name, faculty, and school pulsing
across the screen in pink alphanumerics.
“Given their penchant for these random acts of surreal violence,” someone said, “it
may be difficult for our viewers to understand why you continue to insist that this
phenomenon isn’t a form of terrorism.”
Dr. Rambali smiled. “There is always a point at which the terrorist ceases to
manipulate the media gestalt. A point at which the violence may well escalate, but beyond
which the terrorist has become symptomatic of the media gestalt itself. Terrorism as we
ordinarily understand it is inately media-related. The Panther Moderns differ from other
terrorists precisely in their degree of self-consciousness, in their awareness of the extent
to which media divorce the act of terrorism from the original sociopolitical intent….”
In the book, the “random acts of surreal violence” described above take the form of the Panther Moderns facilitating a raid on an office building by hacking into the building’s computer network to basically hypnotize everyone inside into thinking they’ve been poisoned. At the same time, some of the Moderns called the police to tell them that:
“an obscure sub sect of militant Christian fundamentalists had just taken credit for having introduced clinical levels of an outlawed psychoactive agent known as Blue Nine into the ventilation system of the Sense/Net Pyramid. Blue Nine, known in California as Grievous Angel, had been shown to produce acute paranoia and homicidal psychosis in eighty-five percent of experimental subjects.”
Throughout the raid, the Panther Moderns refer to themselves as ‘Brood’ and another character as Cat Mother.
Since Neuromancer is pretty 80s, here are some synthed-out tracks to get you thinking about the original cyberpunks:
Part of me wants to think that those tracks are what the Panther Moderns would be jamming to if they were actually around today. A bigger part of me knows that they’d probably be fucking around on 4chan instead.
William Gibson’s Neuromancer has always been one of my favorite books
Near the middle, the main characters, Case and Molly, end up on an orbital colony that had been populated by a group of reggae-loving welders. Case is a hacker, Molly his cyborg captor/guardian angel.
The two surviving Founders of Zion were old men, old with
the accelerated aging that overtakes men who spend too many
years outside the embrace of gravity. Their brown legs, brittle
with calcium loss, looked fragile in the harsh glare of reflected
sunlight. They floated in the center of a painted jungle of
rainbow foliage, a lurid communal mural that completely cov-
ered the hull of the spherical chamber. The air was thick with
`Steppin’~ Razor,’ one said, as Molly drifted into the cham-
ber. `Like unto a whippin’~ stick.’
`That is a story we have, sister,’ said the other, `a religion
story. We are glad you’ve come with Maelcum.’
`How come you don’t talk the patois?’ Molly asked.
`I came from Los Angeles,’ the old man said. His dread-
locks were like a matted tree with branches the color of steel
wool. `Long time ago, up the gravity well and out of Babylon.
To lead the Tribes home. Now my brother likens you to Step-
Molly extended her right hand and the blades flashed in the
The other Founder laughed, his head thrown back. `Soon
come, the Final Days… Voices. Voices cryin’~ inna wilder-
ness, prophesyin’~ ruin unto Babylon…’
`Voices.’ The Founder from Los Angeles was staring at
Case. `We monitor many frequencies. We listen always. Came
a voice, out of the babel of tongues, speaking to us. It played
us a mighty dub.’
I know more about cyberpunk than anything dub- or reggae-related, so I could be totally off on what I think space dub would sound like. The Persian Prince says that dub is “an off-shoot of reggae that involves remixing or revising existing songs into instrumental or mostly instrumental versions by increasing the low-end and removing all or most of the vocals.”
Either way, I’ve been playing a lot of Halo 3 with Claudio lately and my next life goal is to get the Steppin’ Razor achievement. Suitably named, it involves getting a triple-kill with the energy sword in a ranked multiplayer match.
I used that picture of Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost In The Shell because if anyone is Cybernetic Steppin’ Razor, it’s Motoko. File this post under Ninjas as well, because you just know Steppin’ Razor is just rasta slang for ninja.
You can read the full text of Neuromancer here or buy it from Amazon here.
I don’t really know if Mirror’s Edge is actually a French game, but since it is based on that parkour stuff it has a certain “je ne sais quois” of coolness about it. More props to it for rocking a cyberpunk storyline.
Pop The Glock is the first Uffie song that I ever heard, and the video below from Mirror’s Edge reminded of it.