Saturday, October 15, 2016

Life and Death in a Cyber World

High Tech, Low Life.

Those words are my somewhat "credo" when it comes to Cyberpunk. As I have told people, although I love Steampunk, I LOVE Cyberpunk. When I first read Neuromancer, I was blown away by not only the writing, but also the "concept" of Cyberpunk. Since then, I try to look for any representation of Cyberpunk, be it books, music, art, coffee mugs . . .

The Killswitch Review, written by Steven-Elliot Altman and Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse and published through Yard Dog Press, is one of the best representations of Cyberpunk out there. They truly grasp the concept of Cyberpunk with one twist - there is somewhat hope at the end. Welcome to the year 2156, a year in which, thanks to stem cell therapy, people are living longer than ever with no worries of diseases. It's practically normal for someone to live to be 140 years old, yet only look 30. The United States of America has closed themselves off from the rest of the world, relishing in their somewhat paradise. Yet, in the midst of the bliss is a small black box that, when pushed, kills you instantly. The Killswitch was made as a response to those who wanted to die in a peaceful manner. One press and it's all over.

Americans, known as Conscientious Citizens, live long lives. They keep their jobs well into their hundreds and retirement is a thing of the past. Each couple is able to conceive one child. However, as those who are CCs are living longer, the Junior Citizens have no chance of anything in the world. Therefore, drugs, branding, piercing and other forms of torture pleasure are the norm among the JCs. They have nothing else to live for, so why not just do it all? However, during a concert by the band Clone Jesus, three JCs rush to the stage and press their buttons, sending the city of NewVegas into a panic. Jason Haggerty, an investigator who works for the company that creates the Killswitch, makes sure that a death caused by the Killswitch was legal and handled well. Everyone gets assigned a box; there is no room for illegal tampering. Yet, he is soon thrust into the investigation behind the triple deaths, sending him on a path that will change his thoughts about Life and Death forever.

This book had me guessing from the first page to the very end and the ride was well worth it. This is more than just a Cyberpunk book - this is about the choices we make to live and die. How much suffering is enough to kill yourself? How much pleasure can the human body withstand before it turns into pain? When we realize that we will all die, does it make us want to live more? In the beginning of the book, Haggerty wants to kill himself in an attempt to end his suffering over many losses. Yet, as the story progresses, he gradually changes his mind and instead, looks to understand why we live, even at extended ages. I have to admit that the scene at the Last Supper Club was well done; I truly hope that the club is never made but if it is, dear gods . . . When you get to the scene, you'll know what I'm talking about. The dolphins actually made me cringe a bit.

High Tech, Low Life, indeed.


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