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C.T. Phipps

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About C.T. Phipps

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    Grimdark Author Extraordinaire
  • Birthday 12/19/1980

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  1. Agreed. There's been some real progress. Here's another update: https://www.authorsguild.org/industry-advocacy/statement-on-audible-and-acx-updated-terms/
  2. Hardwired Review 4.5/5 Cyberpunk is a genre that arose organically during the 1980s as advancing technology as well as a culture of corporate greed set against the backdrop of the Cold War led to a mixture of nihilism as well as utopian skepticism. Basically, many people believed that science would definitely change the world but that the problems of human society would remain the same. People might visit the moon but would they ever deal with systemic poverty or racism? Probably not. Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, and Pat Cadigan all contributed the basis for what would eventually become a thriving subset of dystopian science fiction. Somewhat overlooked but every bit as influential is Walter Jon William's Hardwired. It was the chief influence of Mike Pondsmith's Cyberpunk 2020 and several other works that were the basis for our popular image of a future gone horribly wrong. It's interesting that the book is actually closer to a Western in many ways than an urban crime noir as so many cyberpunk books. The technology is there but it is a rugged desert in Texas where the majority of the action takes place versus Blade Runner's Los Angeles or Gibson's Sprawl. This helps differentiate it from many of its contemporaries and is another reason I recommend the book so highly. The premise is centered around two iconic characters. Cowboy is a rich smuggler who drives around the wastelands of a post-apocalyptic Earth inside a neural-linked tank that provides him access to the firepower necessary to do his job. He's given a questionable job that will take him through bandit-ridden territory to deliver medicine that may come from the people he hates most in the world. Sarah is a high(ish)-class prostitute who is taking care of her junkie brother when she undergoes plastic surgery to seduce a rich "Orbital" on behalf of a mysterious client. If they're on the level, it could mean an escape from the hell of the Earth but that's a big if. The world is a fascinating one with the people of Earth having become citizens in a Third World hellhole following their defeat at the hands of the aforementioned Orbitals. The megacorporations based there now control the world's economy as they devastated humanity's infrastructure with mass-drivers after a brutal but short-lived war that ended in the favor of those with the ultimate high ground. It's not quite Mad Max, Earth has technology as well as society, but they depend on the whims of the solar system's elite. It reminded me a bit of anime's Gundam and if not for the timing, I'd wonder if the creator was partially inspired by Hardwired. This is a gritty and dark novel but also a fairly short one. Neither Sarah or Cowboy's story last very long and don't intersect but are still able to paint a vivid picture of their awful society. They are both criminals but the society they live in is so manifestly unjust that any actions they take, no matter how cruel, seem justified. Betrayal and treachery are things both of them are prepared for but still manage to hit them because they can't turn down the jobs they know are too good to be true. It adds to the tragedy and pathos of the novel. I will say that some of the novel's elements haven't aged particularly well and readers should be forewarned. Sarah is hired to seduce a Orbital that has changed from an old male body to a beautiful young female body despite the former being heterosexual. The latter is depicted as simply indulging a personal vice rather than being a transwoman but its easy to see how many readers would have assumed so. "Princess" is certainly not meant to be a character any sympathy or understanding other than being a rich old male psychopath with a Sapphic fetish. This element is the only one that bothered me in an otherwise fantastic book. In conclusion, Hardwired is required reading for any true cyberpunk fan and doesn't take much time to read. I picked up the 30th Anniversary version that contains additional material from the author that I feel is well worth reading. This is a book that, upon completion, I immediately re-read in order to fully soak up the world created. The audiobook is also excellent and one that I recommend for its excellent narration.
  3. I don't think most of them knew. Edit: Here's an update from ACX: https://blog.acx.com/2021/01/20/an-update-from-acx/
  4. Michael J. Sullivan's THEFT OF SWORDS is on sale for 2.99.
  5. Hey folks, I was curious if anyone was following up on the recent Amazon scandals where they've been dealing with writers. There's currently the charge of ebook price fixing with the Big PublishersTM but we know that was happening years ago. https://www.theverge.com/2021/1/17/22234684/new-lawsuit-accuses-amazon-e-book-price-fixing I admit I'm a bit more interested in the Audiblegate issue that basically can be summarized as Amazon allowing a year of returns of audiobooks via Audible. You have a year to listen to the books and then you exchange it. How very generous. However, it's not generous to the authors and narrators because it turns out returning those books doesn't get you compensated. https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2020/11/hear-ye-hear-ye-audiblegate-and-the-audiobook-return-fiasco/ https://www.susanmaywriter.net/single-post/audiblegate-the-incredible-story-of-missing-sales It's the indie authors who will be hit most by this, which is a shame.
  6. Why would it? It's never been established as working that way. Loving someone dead is very different from loving someone alive. Much is made of the bond between subjects and one of the subjects is gone.
  7. I don't think the true love protection will last long after one party is dead.
  8. Speaking as a cyberpunk author myself (Agent G), here's some good indie ones I love: Ghosts of Tomorrow by Michael R. Fletcher: You can create AI by burning out human brains to make them so there's a billion dollar industry for making scans. This includes children trafficked by futuristic cartels. Our protagonists want to kill these guys and with very good reason. However, can our antiheroes affect something that is essential to the functioning of the world's economy? The Immorality Clause by Brian Parker: The Big Easy in the future is a place where you can indulge in every cyber-delight possible, ranging from gorgeous bioroids to designer mental drugs. The protagonist is a cop who has managed to stay clean and avoid becoming swept up in the system until today. Now he's broken the Immorality Clause of his contract and become involved with a machine. But is she just a toy or something else entirely? Drones by Rob Hayes: Memories and emotions can be harvested for sale in the future but the process leaves the donors a numb shell of their former self. For some people, especially those unable to function in normal society, it's a blessing than a curse. Legalization of the process threatens to affect billions of people, though, and the companies involved have hidden the horrifying side effects. Mercury's Son by Luke Hindmarsh: In the future, the environment has completely collapsed and a bunch of religious fanatic Luddites have taken over the world. Like all hypocrites, though, they employ technology to keep control over humanity's surviving cities. One of them is a cyborg from before the war who now has to investigate the murder of one of their own. But are the answers one that he would be allowed to share even if he finds the truth? To Beat the Devil by M.K. Gibson: This is more Shadowrun than Cyberpunk 2020 where the apocalypse happened and God didn't bother to show up. Demons now rule the blasted technologically advanced remains of Earth. The protagonist is a mercenary who plies the black markets between the various feuding city-states with his nano-technology enhancements giving him an ability to fight the supernatural head on. But now someone wants him to fight the corrupt overlords and their armies of criminals. Can you trust the Devil, though? I have a great fondness for indie cyber-punk fiction. While the classics are great, I think that its kind of in-genre to talk about the books that have gotten published by people who aren't tied to the big corporations.
  9. I'd argue that DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP and other books like it are proto-cyberpunk. Grimdark Magazine did a great analysis of the "stages" of cyberpunk. https://www.grimdarkmagazine.com/a-post-pandemic-world-the-ultimate-cyberpunk-primer/
  10. Cyberpunk is a genre that peaked in the Eighties but it has since gained a considerable second life with homages, pastiches, and deconstructions. This is a thread where we can make suggestions of our favorite pieces of cyberpunk as well as discuss what makes the genre great. Obviously, I'm biased about this as I've written in the genre but I think everyone could do with a little rain soaked neon city in their lives. You can also guess, correctly, that I am partially motivated by the recent release of Cyberpunk 2077. Recommended Books Neuromancer by William Gibson: The book that started us all. A group of criminals are recruited by a mysterious employer to break into an AI's cde. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson: Both a parody of cyberpunk and an excellent example of it. A samurai hacker and pizza delivery guy in the employ of the mob must work with a teenage delivery girl to stop a virus poisoning minds. Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams: Another fantastic example of the genre. The wired wastelanders are up against the megacorporations from space. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan: The latest example of a classic on this list, Takeshi Kovacs is a UN supersoldier that has taken up anarchism. He is then blackmailed into helping an Earth billionaire solve his own suicide.
  11. I did an awards page for my blog: http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-united-federation-of-charles-2020.html
  12. My Reading Plan So Far? * Bones of the Past by Drew Hayes * Dragon Mage by M.L. Spencer * Nanoshock by K.C. Alexander * Blackstone Heart by Michael R. Fletcher * Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams Just finished Bones of the Past, which is the sequel to Forging Hephaestus and I really enjoyed it. I love its kind of slice of life supervillain world.
  13. There's quite a few missions with choice in this game, "Pisces" being a really good one. I also note that gameplay choice is also really good. One mission had me going after a captured Aldecado and hilariously I completely avoided the massive fortress full of goons and got him out without firing a shot, just because I did some extra exploring. It felt very Deus Ex.
  14. I have a quest that's bugged in that none of the doors open to get into the building to do it. I just finished Judy's questline and feel like I made an error.
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