Do People Still Read Books In The Cyberpunk Future?
When CyberPunks.com launched in 2018, it wasn’t long until we were approached by dozens of earnest writers with short stories, novels and series filled with worldbuilding. It’s hard to keep up! When someone says that “cyberpunk is dead,” you don’t have to point at Cyberpunk 2077, you can just look at the creatives working in this genre — cyberpunk is thriving!
However, beneath the burgeoning cyberpunk marketplace of Amazon’s Kindle Store lies a fundamental lack of support from the greater cyberpunk community. Since most of our content can be measured in gigabytes, it seems we’re loath to spend our dollar on a few megabytes of data: No face-melting explosions or CGI-spacecraft; no moving pictures; no talkie.
How can books be part of the future when they don’t even stream?
Quit Being A Cheapskate (Or, How To Help A Cyberpunk For Free)
According to Elite Authors, the average file size of a 300-page Kindle book is 2.6MB. Speaking strictly in bytes, that’s not a lot of bang for your buck.
I get it. I really do, as I’m guilty as anyone. I was there for newsgroups (I still am) and Napster (and Kazaa [and Limewire]) and torrents and MegaUpload and ThePirateBay and so forth.
It’s the Hacker’s Motto: “Information Wants To Be Free.”
Incidentally, Cory Doctorow wrote a great book that puts that argument on its head: Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free (Laws for the Internet Age).
As consumers on the internet, we are highly evolved value-sniffers. We’ve stacked coupons since birth. We know MSRP is only the starting point of negotiation. We’ve developed the patience required to await the distant Humble Bundle or Steam Sale. All the old Gibson books are available in TXT anyhow.
It’s these sensibilities that help dull our potential for being an independent patron of the independent arts. We’re often unwilling to support fledgling projects or to provide crucial feedback to novice craftsmen seeking someone to JUST LOOK AT THEIR WORK and comment. As art patrons, it seems, we are not as keenly aware of the effect of our dollar on our local cyberpunk authors.
Independent artists often keep 70% or more of the earnings derived from their work. This is an amazing margin compared to traditional publishing or “studio” models. However, without the literary marketing machine pushing their work, sales expectancies should be modest, at best.
It occurs to me that, as these authors are engaged in the attention economy, and vying not just for our dollar, but our time. Not only does our patronage help to “pay the bills,” but it also contributes to the well-being and mental health of our artistic community. Let’s all help show them the love, respect and encouragement they deserve. *GROUP HUG*
Why do we only hurt the things we love?
Let’s get one thing straight. The information economy has been really good to us cyberpunks. We’ve got everything we could want at the end of a search query. Storage is cheap. Networks are fast. Life is good.
We are libertines in cyberspace, and we’ve gotten spoiled by free content.
So how do you support your favorite sites without money?
How do you support the genre you love in an economy that demands attention?
By paying attention, of course! In the next section, we’re going to break down how you can create a couple bucks in value for your favorite artists and how you can drive a force multiplier by sharing their work within your network.
Ways you can help CyberPunks.com (for free): -Follow us on Facebook -Follow us on Twitter -Follow us on Instagram -Subscribe on YouTube -Subscribe to our Newsletter -Join our Discord channel -Add us to your RSS reader If you've taken the time to do the bits above — Thank you. All told, your participation just created the equivalent of ~$2-3 dollars in paid reach (advertising speak for cost to get your attention). We hope this helps to illustrate how important it is to support your local artists in ways that don't directly involve your pocketbook. Now, let's keep this party going . . .
Before you cry “network effect” and fall asleep, just know that you can spend five minutes at the bottom of this page and create twenty bucks in value for five cyberpunk artists who put themselves out there every day. And you can do this without spending a dime (although that’s allowed, too).
Anna Mocikat — Cyberpunk Author
Having recently published the second installment of her Behind Blue Eyes series, Anna Mocikat writes hard sci-fi, featuring Japanese influences such as Ghost In The Shell. She’s also one of the top-billed authors in Neo City: The Anthology, which features some of the other artists mentioned here.
Mark Everglade — Cyberpunk Author
We’ve had the pleasure of reading several of Mark Everglade’s short stories recently, and the scene setting and “vibe” is perfectly tuned. Mark’s most recent work, the novel Hemispheres, has been very well received in the cyberpunk community, He’s a common contributor to the speculative/cyberpunk anthology space, so you can see his work in Neo City: An Anthology, as well as Unrealpolitik and Sunshine Superhighway.
D.L. Young — Cyberpunk Author
D.L. Young is a Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of the Independent Press Award. He’s also much less serious than his author photo implies. A lifelong science fiction fan, his intense, fast-paced novels echo his many influences from books and movies, including William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, the Mad Max films, Akira, Blade Runner, Harlan Ellison, and the novels of Paolo Bacigalupi. If you like page-turning, edgy science fiction, you’re definitely his kind of reader. Check out his five-book Cyberpunk City series, starting with The Machine Killer.
B.J. West — Cyberpunk Author
B.J. West is the author of the SpliceFire series, and it’s up to you whether “hacker rockstar” Spider King and his cohorts are criminals or revolutionaries in the ongoing struggle against the corporations that have replaced the federal government of the formerly united States. While West may trace some familiar territory, it’s very well-observed. And though you may think you’ve heard this one before, you may find just what you wanted. Sometimes, we like our cyberpunk with a little pulp.
Craig Lea Gordon — Cyberpunk Author
Craig Lea Gordon fell in love with Science Fiction at a very early age. At 12 he made his Mum rent him a copy of Robocop, and he has never been the same since. Some say he has a hidden prime directive to create stories of a possible future. His polished, high-velocity novel, ARvekt blew us away with nano-technology and sleek characterizations. In addition to the book’s prequel, Instant Reality One: HyperCage, Craig’s website tracks his current progress on future releases, which seems pretty sophisticated, even for us cyberpunks.