Gary Numan with Hohokam at Hammersmith, Berserker Tour 1980s - image rights Karl Sherlock
So I’m working on a big overhaul of a major piece of work I wrote in 2007, an RPG called Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur. It’s an extension of my sci-fi and dark fantasy novels, a blend of Cyberpunk and Cthulhu Mythos genres thrust into a post-apocalyptic frame by a catastrophic event that swept across the planet.
Right now I’m fighting my way through a chapter on Carbons.
Carbons: Genetically modified human clones, grown to be a slave workforce. Normally encountered in New Tokyo, Orbit and Deep Space; particularly within service-franchises such as chain restaurants, check-outs, and assembly lines. A growing number are finding their way into Living Cities across the globe, but only within large corporate owned businesses that have logistical support from orbit.
Carbons are not allowed to have a life. They alternate between work and rest, with only 4 hours sleep a night. They can’t metabolise human food and rely on a daily dose of a substance called ‘Zone’ to keep them alive. Going more than 24 hours without Zone results in a swift death, molecular disintegration and dissolution into a fine powder.
Draconian management disciplines reinforce a Carbon’s chemically suppressed-intelligence and create a fear-culture about asking too many questions regarding their existence and rights.
A growing number of Carbons have been ‘abducted’ from the stores, fast-food bars and other service industries they work and live within. All within New Tokyo. They then re-appear, hiding within society, fully Ascendant. i.e. with incredible Intelligence and learning.
- Excerpt from Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur (version 2.5 in development)
I was struggling a little bit so decided to dig through my music library for some sounds that would give me a futuristic vibe, genetic engineering meets corporate greed and social upheaval in a post-apocalyptic wilderness of survivors, things called zombies, rampaging machines and monstrous entities of H.P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos roaming the lonely places left in the wake of so many deaths. Easy, really…
- Front Line Assembly? Artificial Solider or the classic Tactical Neural Implant? Not quite what I wanted.
- Cabaret Voltaire with Microphonies? Uh-uh.
- OST for Blade Runner by Vangelis! Brilliant but not today.
What I selected was the definitive album of my mid-teens and the music that shaped my imagination as I discovered H.P.Lovecraft and delved deep into his world of cosmic horror, it was also the same time that I got into things Cyberpunk. A blend that’s shaped my fiction throughout my years as an author.
Forged in the formative decade of Cyberpunk fiction
The album is Berserker, by Gary Numan. And listening to it, for the several thousandth time, I was struck by how ahead of its time it still sounds.
When track #4, “My Dying Machine” comes on you could be standing in some gritty bar on the edge of a river wharf district, waiting to meet a contact in the half-light of sodalum panels. You’ll be conscious of the fact most of the patrons are carrying barely concealed weapons; the majority of them are trained soldiers for hire, like you, and that any number of them could be working a contract to put a bullet through your brain once they’ve ID’d the contact. But you’re there for the money, for the deal, and dying is easy when living is so hard.
The eerie soundscapes of Berserker push along lyrics that convey dystopian visions. A future of man machines and broken borders. The blaring sax riffs, so iconic of the 1980′s, bring you round to the fact that this is a timeless fusion of concepts, perfect for the cultural mash-up that defines the Cyberpunk ethos.
Cyberpunk is the social breakers yard. It’s where we, now, in this reality, this time-stream, are rushing. The turning point after decades of economic and social decay in the shadows of new gods rising: Islam; China; Western Corporate Super Strata impervious to morality and the rules of any particular nation-state. Cyberpunk is the melted landscape. The lens through which everything we thought we knew looks unfamiliar and wrong. Public services and national military functions in the hands of private corporations. The erosion of economic boundaries and geo-political diversification. The mutating meaning of Identity and the rocketing cash value of personal information, particularly clusters and trends. In a nutshell, the prophetic culmination of Eisenhower’s warning of the military industrial complex; Santa Clara 1866; and H.P.Lovecraft’s hidden wisdom packaged as fiction.
Well, at least that’s the kind of thought-flow I get when I listen to this album.
Give it a try.
You might also like these Gary Numan links:
- Video: Gary Numan morphing through 30 years of God-like electro punk – click
- Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army – John Peel Sessions – Volume Two – August 1979 – click
- Videos: Are friends electric? Gary Numan @ NIN gig. Very High Quality – click
See more posts like this – click
David J Rodger – DATA