Ah, okay. I haven't read the story, because I fear for my sanity were I to do so, but does the author actually use the word "cyberpunk" to describe it? Because this isn't really cyberpunk at all. It's a story about social groups with opposed ideologies who regard their relationship as a zero-sum game, which is reflected in the way individuals treat one another. In-group morality is much older than cyberpunk. Sexual deviants and diversity hires elevated to high places by goodthinkers in order to signal what good people they were and allowed to make important decisions, that phenomenon is also much older than cyberpunk—or gunpowder.
Cyberpunk, at base, is a subgenre of science fiction literature principally created around 1980 by five authors, four of them Canadian: Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Pat Cadigan, John Shirley, and Rudy Rucker. Most of this specific body of work has certain themes and imagery in common. Most of the stories that make up this opus are adventure stories in which horrible people do horrible things one another, in a near-future high-tech dystopia that is usually the aftermath of a nuclear war. Usually Japan owns everything—don't laugh, forty years ago lots of people in the US were obsessed with this bizarre idea that Japan was going to displace the US as a superpower—and is turning the planet into a lawless superhyperultramegalocapitalist nightmare. The protagonists are young disenfranchised outsiders and Bohemian types. Some are driven by a compulsion to hack computers. Some want to see the whole corrupt system burn.
Not all the stories in this oeuvre quite fit this mold in every detail, but all of them are written from the perspective of angry young outsiders who thought 1960s-70s sci-fi was too conservative—both politically and in terms of writing technique—too optimistic, and too American. Those of you who've read "A Boy and His Dog" or "Bug Jack Barron" or "The Forever War" are scratching your heads at these complaints, but that is how they felt. These young authors had sympathetic ears in Ben Bova and Ellen Datlow, who had been hired by Bob Guccione as editors for his extremely gonzo, extremely 1980s glossy-paper S*C*I*E*N*C*E magazine, called "Omni." Bova and Datlow bought just scads and scads of their experimental work , apparently to use as filler in between articles about UFOs and full-page full-color ads for expensive car stereo speakers. Most of it got collected in an anthology called "Mirrorshades," edited by Bruce Sterling, which may or may not still be in print almost forty years later.
All of that is preface to saying that the central idea of cyberpunk isn't people with Ethernet jacks surgically implanted in their foreheads. Cyberpunk was created by people who wanted to experiment with prose and storytelling, and do so while wagging their fingers at the Yanks about environmentalism and the war in Vietnam. They felt that American sci-fi was not dark enough, not bleak enough, not nihilistic enough, and wanted to cram the reader's head into the bucket, then start hitting the bucket with a stick. These people were very passionate about the craft of writing, and felt, legitimately, that too many skiffy writers were writing bland stories with bland prose, just punching a clock and churning out low-quality space-filler for bookstore shelves when they should have been taking risks and being creative, and some of their early-80s material—SOME of it—is brilliant and still holds up. "Knock it off with that lame, boring, worn-out bullshit" is a very old battlecry from young artists on the outside looking in—just read Cheap Truth, their 1980s fan magazine , where they tell the whole world about all of this at great length. Combine that attitude with a monomaniacal obsession with the idea that Ronald Reagan was going to burn down the world, sprinkle with punk rock and microcomputers, and cyberpunk is what you get.
So just at face value, this story doesn't strike me as being cyberpunk at all. It is an adventure story set in a sci-fi dystopia, but that isn't cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is about the contrast, as perceived by Sterling, Gibson, et al, between sci-fi as a genre of popculture escape literature and sci-fi as a tool to produce effective agitprop to terrify people. They use lots of circumlocutions and attempt to make it seem very noble, but that's what it is, and no doubt they're still profoundly irritated that cyberpunk immediately conjures images of computer hacker adventure stories instead of, you know, Antifa. For it to be cyberpunk, the production of sunstone would have to be destroying all life, or else a lack of sunstone would have to be destroying all life, and the author would have chosen a side and every other character would be beating you over the head with it to make sure you knew the author was pro-skub or anti-skub. It'd have to be a very obvious metaphor, and it would be meant to disgust and horrify you, leave you despairing and unable to sleep at night, though the author might or might not succeed on altering your emotions and attitudes on quite that level. Even if the author wants this to be cyberpunk it can't succeed on that level, because it's in a fantasy setting with nonhuman characters and I haven't yet seen them screaming in the reader's face about the apocalyptic threat of GLOBAL WARMING or NUCLEAR REACTOR MELTDOWN or MICROPLASTICS ARE POISONING THE OCEANS or anything else that has a concrete connection to the real world. Unless the author is trying to convince us that not appeasing the trannies and using their retarded made-up pronouns is going to bring about the end of the world. That'd be hilarious.
As for the virus, what's frightening to me about what unfolded isn't the virus itself. It's rather obvious that it's the common cold, rebranded in order to turn it into a political cudgel. No, it's the way it was used as a pretext to establish all manner of terrifying precedents. You're unemployable unless you let them compel you to let them shoot you up with experimental gene therapy—it's not a vaccine at all, words mean things, it's experimental gene therapy of new and novel type never before attempted on human beings, and it was pushed out without testing. "Nuremberg Code? Never heard of it!" It is now established precedent that state Governors in the US are now little tin gods who can issue diktats from their thrones to shut down the economy forever, shut down businesses forever, to "protect" you from the common cold. And it is now established precedent that freedom of speech is gone, gone, gone. Question any aspect of this and that's "dangerous medical misinformation," and you will get blocked, banned, and censored—and in the EU they put you in jail. This is banana republic stuff. If you saw on the news that the government of, say, the Dominican Republic, or Equatorial Guinea, had announced it would be jailing dissidents and people who questioned the authority of the government on charges of "spreading disinformation," you'd laugh because it would be so transparent. They're doing it here and now, and I'm not laughing. People are letting them do this. Half the population, or so we are told, are lining up and saying "Govern me harder, Mr. Soros! Harder, Daddy! Harder!" Now that they've gotten away with doing this to us with no pushback and no consequences, now that they've established these precedents, what's next? That's what keeps me up at night.
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