There were always two Cyberpunk cities.
I've had a great day. I've been reading Bruce Sterling's magnificent 1986 Mirrorshades, on the origins of the Cyberpunk science fiction movement. I'd been worried about my Liquid City future, and i've finally placed it as Cyberpunk in my mind.

Sterling writes on how the movement was a backlash against stale Science Fiction writers, dreaming of lofty utopias. Cyberpunk was different. A grimy, mangled, mixtape of a future. Perhaps not born but "galvanized" in two cities.

The first, obviously, was Tokyo.
The 1980s was a time of an invasion of exotic Japanese technology. These were the days of the Sony Walkman, the contact lens, the personal computer. This was technology that you wore on the skin. Metal and plastic next to flesh, augmenting and infectious. High technology brought right down to street level, where it was reformatted by amateurs with skills of the professionals. This was the age of DIY technology. The literal cyberpunk. The hacker.
And Tokyo is where modern Cyberpunk, or whatever it has become nowadays, remains. Exploring the philosophical and aesthetic possibilities of man and machine as one. It still follows the line of hard SF, that we should concentrate on the technology, and what it means for mankind.

But there was another city.

The cyberpunks were originally criticised for their tight ties to fashion, pop culture, music and style by the hard SF writers. This was not the place for science fiction. It should concern itself with distant worlds and imagined futures. After all, how can one have an eye on the future and one foot in fleeting fashion? But cyberpunk embraced their second city. One that gave them pale faces, dark eyes and electronic sounds to twist reality.

That second city was London.

New Order, The human League, Soft Cell, Ultravox, Depeche Mode, ABC, The Art of Noise, Duran Duran, Yaz, Ziggy Stardust and Gary Numan.
London gave them the soundtrack to dystopia. The hollow electronic tones for their concrete landscapes. The anemic, androgynous tech-junkies to fill their streets.

I could never place Liquid city, or myself as a SF writer, because I never cared about Tokyo technology beyond the aesthetic. The possibilities of science are interesting to me only as a means to an imagined society, one that lives and breathes the cyberpunk lifestyle. It is interesting that as much an SF fan as I am, I had never had this pointed out to me. Modern Sci-fi videogames and films ooze technological design, and even style, but not so much fashion, or lifestyle.

The Liquid City is a story of the second city. The forgotten vein of Cyberpunk. The style that went with the science. Exploring the philosophical and aesthetic possibilities of man and makeup as one.

Tokyo may have armed the future with wetware- but London gave it Mirrorshades.

"If Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music."
Marcus Bridgstocke

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