This week has brought about announcements that as I mentioned earlier this week have a stunning similarity to the world of CyberPunk and that genre of Science Fiction and its view of the near future. From flexible displays to hardwired brain computers to the recent addition of wearable computing I can see that we are very close to a future that technology and the person are not only intimititely close to each other but they are an integral part of each other. When William Gibson penned the Neuromancer in 1984 I don’t think he realized that not only the broad vision of technology that he saw would come as close to reality as it has but the socio-economic factors that made it such a dark future have also begun to ring true.
In my youth I was an avid Science Fiction reader and William Gibson, Walter Jon Williams and Bruce Sterling were my favorite authors and reading about this dark and forboding future of Arcologies and a world dominated both finacially and politically by corporations was facinating. The connection between this and technology even before there was really even an Internet to speak of was amazing vision and now when I see just how close we are coming to this 30 year vision…I can honestly say I am a little afraid…but still vastly connected and excited for the future.
The interest in both Technology and the future connection with the genre of CyberPunk led to an extension of my Dungeons & Dragons playing network to include the works of R. Talisorian Games when they released their radical take on what life in 2013 and 2020 would be. Both versions of the game are set in a fictional city called Night City and in the original game there is a flash forward from 1988 to 2013. Now as a 16 year old kid it was more about a neat look to the future but now 23 years later I can look back and go wow!
Many of these games of that era especially when dealing with the near future would develop a timeline that would shape the game play and I thought I would take a stroll down memory lane and share some of the “future” that is now our actual past. Keep in mind, this was written in 1988, the first Gulf War had not yet happened, the Twin Towers still stood and there wasn’t a single Bush that had been President…yet.
This excerpt comes from the First Edition of the R. Talisorian masterpiece of gaming called “CyberPunk – The Roleplaying Game of the Dark Future”. The connection that the authors Mike Pondsmith, Colin Fisk and Will Moss were able to make with the uncertainty of a near future…still to this day seems pretty cool.
1989 – What is called the “Gang of Four” (CIA, NSC, FBI and DEA) take over the government of the US and institute a puppet regime
1990 – Central American Conflict…clouded as a War on Drugs the United States unilateralily enters Central America with combat forces to ensure continued security in the Panama Canal region. The fist elite Mechanical Light Infantry Battalions are deployed as Cyber Soldiers.
Fall of South Africa…genocide and civil war are common place through out the southern countries of Africa and no international news leaves over the next 4 years
Riots in London between rival Labour and Radical Extremists erupts
1991 – Eurospace Agency launches the Hermes Spaceplane and becomes the dominant player in Near Earth Orbit for years to come
The last of the Soviet hardliners are purged from Russia
CHOOH2 is developed as an alternative fuel.
The first Arcology is build ont he ruins of Jersey City. 16 more Arcos begin construction until their collapse in 1997 leaving huge structures half completed but filled with squatters and the homeless.
Artificial Muscle Fibres are developed at Stanford.
1992 – The opening of the Euromarket and the free trade zone that encompases France, Britain, Germany and Italy with a common currency known as the Eurodollar is established. Trapped in a paranoid isolatioinist realm the US under the Gang of Four declines to join this new Free Trade Zone
The US DEA develops several custom plagues that target cocao and opium plants but the Governments of Chile and Ecuador completely collapse escalating a savage drug war between the US and the drug cartels.
1993 – The First biologic chips are developed in Germany
The AV-4 Assault vehicle is developed to help with the growing civil unrest in the US
1994 – World Stock Crash. The US economy teeters and then collapses.
1995 – In a joint project between the Pan African Union and the Eurospace Agency the Kilamanjaro Massdriver begins construction.
1996 – Weakened by the World Stock Crash in `94 and completely overwhelmed by the unemployment and homelessness through out the US the bankruptcy of both cities and states drives all of North America into utter chaos. Snarled by the chaos of the Gang of Four, the federal government stands back and lets it all happen.
Nomad Riots erupt. With 1 in 6 American`s now homeless, hundreds of thousands riot throughout the US and packs of roaming Nomads begin to form on the West Coast.
Lawyer Purge: irate citizens lynch hundreds of criminal defence attorneys.
Martial Law established in the US.
1997 – Mideast Meltdown. Tensions continue to escalate between Iran, Iraq, Libya, Chad and the Arab Emirates culminating into a nuclear exchange that reduces much of the region to radioactive glass. World Oil Production reduced by half.
1999 – Federal Weapons Statute established
Luna Colony established by the Eurospace Agency. A massdriver is constructed to provide raw materials for orbital platforms.
Martial Law end in the US and the Uniform Civilian Justice Code is established.
2000 – Crystal Palace space station begins construction
A Wasting Plague hits the US, Europe killing hundreds of thousands
2001 – The Framework of the Net is now firmly in place with the construction of the World Sat Network
2002 – Food Crash. Mutated plant virus wipes out Canadian and Soviet Crops. US crops survive due to new biological counter agent.
2003 – Second Central American War. The US invades Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuala. The war is a disaster costing thousands of American Lives. A wave of reform sweeps away the last remants of the old Gang of Four.
2004 – First cloned tissue growth in vitro.
First Corporate War…18 multinational corporations battle not just in the courtrooms and board rooms but with corporate security forces in the streets for control of a failing Trans World Air.
2005 – Cybermodem invented
2006 – First human clone grown in vitro. It is mindless and only lives for a few hours but this new technology allows organs and limbs to be grown and stored without any risk of tissue rejection.
2007 – Second Corporate War. Dispute over the oilfields off the Southeast Asian coast.
2008 – US assault on Soviet weapons platform MIR XIII. Eurospace Agency intervenes. An orbital war erupts between the Euros and the Yanks and ends when the Luna Colony massdriver drops a rock on Colorado Springs, CO reducing the Cheyenne Mountain Facilty to ruble
2009 – Joint Euro-Soviet mission to Mars departs
2010 – End of Second Central American Conflict
2011 – Crystal Palace is completed. Eurospace Agency now has a permenant hold in high orbit.
2013 – Present
Well beyond a darkness that has rolled over South Western Ontario today and the chill of an early Autumn I look forward to an exciting day today. With my little girl celebrating her 12 year with us on earth…I will be donning the light activated gear at a Birthday Party at Laser Quest…all you 11 and 12 year old kids beware…I am a crack shot and don’t take prisoners…lol.
Cheers and have a great weekend.
Chris J Powell