I must confess that I have not been as active on this site I would have liked, and I have mulled over joining the Cyberpunk contest to give myself an actual deadline to commit to. The problem is that I am not sure whether or not the idea I have gone for is interesting. The story revolves around the idea that futuristic cybernetics and technology create a gateway for hackers to infiltrate the most private of our lives. This story is the idea that nothing around us is truly private or hidden when the internet is thrown into the mix. You fill the pants of Morgan Choi, a long-dead hitman, and bounty hunter. He was influential in discovering the mastermind behind the malicious daemon that caused a breakdown of societal order in Avalon, USA. However, his memory chip is fairly corrupted and must be filled in by imperfect A.I. sequencing technology. That is where the reader comes in...to make the most informed choice in their eyes to replay the events of Morgan Choi as it would have most likely happened. I'll put here the first page. Does this seem interesting? Anything you all would like to see improved upon or added in the future?
I really want the reader to connect with the personality of Mr. Choi and his staunchly anti-corporate yet apathetic and nostalgic personality. I want the reader to realize he doesn't live in the best conditions and might even yearn for the old days (he's roughly 42. It's revealed later). The journey will definitely highlight the positives and negatives of the cyberpunk lifestyle but is also a glimpse into the life of a realistic person with conflicting morals in a high-tech, low-life society. Things do often get hectic and fast-paced, but there are also slow and emotional moments I would like to add. This initial section is meant to capture ordinary life for Mr. Choi, which isn't too far off of our life (despite obvious technological upgrades and resource limitations...i.e. synthetic tobacco).
-+-+- THE DAEMON -+-+-
"Mr. Choi. My sensors indicate high levels of stress. Would you like me to order you another Rusty Mary? Or perhaps you would like to look over the menu once more?"
I looked up at the robot. It had "R.O.B (RESTAURANT ORDERING BOT)" etched in its cheap metal frame and the rust caused the moving parts within it to occasionally crackle or buzz. It had entered through a compartment in the roof, just as all the other tables' R.O.Bs. It was staring down at me intently, awaiting my response so it might send in the order and return to its compartment to watch me as I drank or ate. There truly was no privacy. In the end, I decided not to waste its time, even if it might have no concept of such a thing.
"No, but could you call me a cab? It's getting late." I requested, and for a minute it just seemed to stare at me with its giant red eye in the center of its boxed chassis.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Choi, but I am afraid that is beyond my capabilities. You can request my owner to upgrade to the Silver Package. It has access to services such as calling, texting, and interfacing with another unit. This package is only *25/cr a month more than your current package. Or, you may consider the Gold Package. It comes with all the previous services but also includes unlimited call access to nearby health clinics and-"
"Nevermind, then. Just leave me alone."
"Very well, Mr. Choi. Here is your check. You have a good night." The machine began to whirr for a few seconds before spitting out a receipt. It seemed as though it was going to produce a pen, as well, but it got jammed before dropping and the robot returned to its compartment swiftly. Luckily I had a pen.
I produced the pen from my coat pocket, taking care to sign it as perfectly and uniquely as possible. The last time I used a generic signature it was stolen by script-kiddies who'd hijacked all the R.O.Bs. After signing, I quickly took the last chug of my Rusty Mary and stood up. I walked out of the bar, which by then was mostly cleared of patrons since it was getting late. The bell above the door buzzed as I walked out, signaling one of the bussers to come and lock it behind me. I guess I was the last one...
I leaned up against the brick wall of the bar and pulled a cigarette out of my back pocket. It was poorly rolled and contained synthetic tobacco since the real stuff was too hard to get nowadays, but I made do as I always had. I took a deep sigh before lighting the cigarette and looking at my watch. 10:37 P.M. I let the smoke crawl up my face and up the wall, finally being consumed by the vibrant neon signs that towered above me. Sometimes I would forget just how tall Avalon was. My apartment was on the ground, as well as most of my usual dives, which often separates me from the happenings above the clouds. I'd like to imagine that I'm not missing much, but then I'd be lying to myself. I took another long drag of my cigarette, trying to work up the will to call a cab. The night was particularly dark. Well, as dark as neon-soaked cityscape could be. I could faintly make out the silhouettes of infrequent strangers on the other side of the road, as well as the occasional car that would come chugging along. I used to think owning a car would be pointless due to all the traffic. I used to be right. But now that everyone is hovering or just running with augmented legs, cars were phased out. The only people you see with wheeled cars now are the poor or extremely wealthy collectors taking their recent piece out for a joyride instead of donating to struggling soup kitchens or employing new blood. Not that it mattered. Most entry-level grunt work is done by efficient machines, and augmenting the struggling unemployed costs money and effort. And it doesn't help that they have emotions and needs, either.
I snapped out of my deep thought to take another pull of the cigarette, which was already almost gone. I flicked it onto the ground and stamped it out with my worn boot. I rolled up my sleeve, revealing a strip of metal that acted as a touchpad. I typed in my password and clicked the CabCall app. The app was, of course, connected to my recently implanted optics. I was soon patched through to a map of several different cabs with their exact locations and descriptions of the drivers. I settled on the one second closest to me. The one closest looked like a shady type. Neckbeard, greasy hair and he was driving a van. I put in the order, paid on the spot, and proceeded to watch a 15-second ad that covered my vision about the benefit of GERTRUDE'S MOIST TOWLETTES on rusty cybernetics. I started to see the appeal of CabCall Premium. But, I also wasn't a corporate shill.
For a while, I sat on a nearby bench. It was only *2/cr per hour to remove the 'wildlife-nesting protection spikes.' In other words, I had to pay to remove spikes on a bench that prevented the homeless from sleeping somewhere comfortable. There isn't any wildlife in Avalon left save for the ones in zoos or wealthy households, and even those are diminishing.
I waited for 20 minutes for that damn cab. I pulled up that CabCall app again, knowing full well I was going to have to sit through another ad. It said the cab was on the way, but the cab had taken several detours through older and shadier parts of town. It seemed to be taking the longest possible route to me. My home was only a 15-minute walk away. It would be a dangerous walk at this time of night but doable. Then again, a new suit doesn't do well in acidic rain. And neither does skin for prolonged periods.
I'm sure the ant people would love this choice of font.
I cater to to those with refined eyesight. I suggest you upgrade your optics ;).
Just kidding I'll be sure to increase the font size!
But then the ant people would be alienated.
Well, the wrting's fine. There are minimal typos here and there. However, my main gripe would be that it feels like it's going down a grungy cyberpunk checklist. You have the unemployment and robots taking jobs, nowhere for the homeless to sleep without being killed off, due to the advent of technology being inherently anti-homeless apparently. There's the invasive and heavy advertisements in the character's cyber modfications.
And this is like all on the first page? It just feels like the writing is trying a little too much to tell me that it's cyberpunk, without these elements just naturally being mentioned. Because I do feel it would feel more authentic if this story's going to be in a first person perspective? Like this would just be everyday things for the main character that he wouldn’t feel the need to explain the purpose of? Well, I guess that's just personal preference for myself. Eh, but one could say that any sort of criticism is steeped in personal preferences. lol.
But maybe this is just how exposition goes? Oh, but I don't want to sound too harsh.
Any of my personal opinions aside, this writing is once again, what i would deem as fine. It's descriptive, although i would say that it becomes wordy to a perhaps superfluous degree. Like maybe less time lingering on a point wouldn’t be something bad? That's just something I have experience in now having recently read through my own published work. Sometimes the urge for padding out even more words becomes tempting, but if it's your style, then that's fine.
This can be a potential strong entry to the contest if you decide on entering it. If that so happens to be the situation, then I'll wish you good luck.
Yeah, I suppose you're right I enjoy the descriptors and I realize that can bog down my writing to where one page is excessively long. I just don't want the reader to feel as though they can't get a mental picture of the world I am trying to create. Sometimes that causes me to over-write. Now that I reread it... it is a pretty excessive word count for just calling a cab. On future pages, i'll try to make the choices more impactful and meaningful while limiting my words. I don't want this story to be a chore to read. :)
Just join the contest already, no reason to be scared.