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Old 09-15-2008, 04:10 AM
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"The Gernsback Continuum"
Alright, this post is just for brainstorming purposes. I know there's other peeps reading these boards, some even interested. Please, chime in and run wild with this Otherwise, apologies for the Wall of Text.


I was reading "The Gernsback Continuum" by William Gibson. It's a great short story that can be found in his anthology "Burning Chrome", a long with the original Johnny Mnemonic short story and some other cool works of short fiction.

The concept of it was interesting: A photographer of the 80's is working on a project photographing relics of the old "Raygun" style pulp and art-deco of the 30's-50's, and begins to actually slip into a different reality where all the fantastic air-ships, slick architecture and air cars that they envisioned were true.

The concept brought up in the story are that these realms exist alongside us almost like Ghosts, but not of the people of the past, but of the cultural "ideas" of what the "future" was supposed to be.

It made me sit back and think about things like the Steampunk genre, or even "Lovecraftian" pulp horror stories. Alternate time lines and the like.

The "Gibson" Continuum, and others.
At the time that I recently read this (have read it several times, but only now it had a profound effect on me) I was considering writing up some generic Cyberpunk rules for the GORE system. I admired the work of people trying to bring us the "Retro Clone" RPG systems, and for some reason I've always wanted to see a Cyberpunk system using the Percentile-based systems inspired by RuneQuest and Call of Cthulhu (closest I've seen is GURPS Cthulhupunk, not quite what I was looking for).

Also, after having just finished up my own homebrew of generic Cyberpunk rules using the NWoD rules system, I figured it would've been nice to re-work them for an Open Sourced, freely accessible RPG system.

Anyways, as I sat back wondering what would I change, or set up, for such a project using a system inspired by the old rules, it came to me: The cyberpunk future that didn't happen.

Too many of the latest editions of classic Cyberpunk RPG's, like Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 3.0, are drastically different and many feel lost a lot of their edge in trying to "upgrade" their tech to seem more sci-fi. They have good reason: Reading through Cyberpunk 2020, holy god. The entire "Net Running" rules were written and designed back in a day when we didn't have the mainstream internet, MMO's and the like, It was a day of BBS's and major networks like AOL, Compuserve and the like. Where time "online" was charged by the hours, and all was done over the phones.

The "futuristic" hackers of Gibson's world seems archaic in today's practice; they're lugging around "cyberdecks" clunkier than our modern laptops, "phreaking" phone lines to dial out to strange computer boards in a wired "grid" of phone lines and computer addresses are based off geographical locations. Aside from that, elements of the Cold War seem to have surpassed the likes of what we all came to witness, and everything from nuclear bombs, World War III and the continued success of a Soviet Space program seem to be ripe in Cyberpunk lit.

If everything we saw in the movie Bladerunner was to come true, we're supposed to be mining in Off-World colonies, driving flying cars and building six generations of Nexus Replicants in the next 11 years.

So as I write this, I've begun working on my own rules document for playing "Yesterday's Cyberpunk Future of Tomorrow". Even if it doesn't have much of an audience, I think it'll be fun to look back and sift through the entire genre, looking at all the books, movies, games and even music that inspired or was inspired by the concept, and brewing together ideas for a world that could've been, at one point, the "world that could've been."

-==-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

What's in your continuum? What was the awesome thing of the future that never happened? Or better yet, what things ended up turning out better and more trendy than believed? It cracks me up when I'm reading about Pocket Secretary's and "mini-cd" players that are popular in 2050, when right now in 2008 we have phones that can play an entire Beatle's discography and surf the web and play video back.
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Old 09-15-2008, 12:18 PM
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I think the biggest things for me would be colonization and data storage. Many of my favorite sci-fi books are the sweeping epics like the Dune and Foundation series in which Earth is a distant memory. Lunar, Martian and even outer planet colonization always have, and I think, always will, grab my imagination.

It always gives me a chuckle to read these books which take place thousands of years in the future and to find mention of data being stored on reams of "tape" or "microfilm."

My first home computer was a brand-new Commodore Vic 20. It was an 8-bit (!) machine with 5KB of RAM. It hooked up to the TV (before TV's came with handy ports to plug components into) via the antenna screws and had an external read/write data device that used audio cassettes. Yes, an audio cassette. Any idea how much data I could save on one side of an audio tape? About 100KB.

Enter floppy discs which are nothing more than the same magnetic tape found in an audio cassette shaped into a disc. According to the Wikipedia page, data storage amounts ranged from 1.5 megabits in 1971 to 200-240 megabytes by the late 90's.

Is there a point to this history lesson? Why, yes there is!

I was watching a program the other day - I forget what it was about exactly - in which one of the brains of NASA's Martian Rover program stated that he thought that the guys who worked on the Apollo program must have been much smarter back then because of the "lack of modern-day technology." He found it baffling that those guys could put a man on the moon without the use of the computing power we have now.
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Old 09-15-2008, 03:07 PM
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Hell didn't they do it using computers the equivalent of a Commodore 64? Even Bill Gates said 64K Ram is all you'll ever need!
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Old 09-15-2008, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rev_lazaro View Post
Hell didn't they do it using computers the equivalent of a Commodore 64?
I think so - and they were big enough need their own warehouse!
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