Morning, morning, morning! We have a guest today in the ClarksonPunk Treehouse of Doom! Please give your warm welcome to my friend Ace, aka writer and actor Abner Senires! (insert the kermit crazy arms gif of your choice here). Abner is one of the guys responsible for getting me involved in audio drama. More importantly, he’s a purveyor of really fun stories, like his stories about Kat and Mouse.
Which is what brings him here today! His second book of Kat and Mouse stories is now on sale. You should definitely go pick them up (links at the bottom). Technically, Kat and Mouse are Cyberpunk, not Steampunk, Dieselpunk or New Pulp. Or are they? Read on to learn more….
Before I start, I’d like to thank AJ for hosting me today for this stop on the KAT AND MOUSE SEASON TWO book blog tour.
On to today’s topic…
What Is “Cyberpunk Pulp” And How Can I Get Some?
When I tell people I’m a writer, inevitably I get asked “What do you write?”
The answer isn’t as straightforward as it should be.
Other folks can probably say something like “I write historical fiction,” “I write cozy mysteries,” or “I write techno-thrillers.” Even something as easy as “I write romance novels.”
Only problem is the genre I write doesn’t exist.
So I tend to tell people “I write sci-fi action-adventure” and that seems to get the idea across.
But it’s not quite that either. I want to say it’s a genre of its own. Better yet, it’s a sub genre of a sub genre.
So I propose calling it “cyberpunk pulp” and make it a sub-set of New Pulp.
First, New Pulp: What is it?
fiction written with the same sensibilities, linear storytelling, pattern of conflict, and creative use of words and phrases of original Pulp, but crafted by modern writers, artists, and publishers.
Furthermore, according to New Pulp
“New Pulp is Pulp written today.”
I’m a modern writer. I write fiction with the same sensibilities, linear storytelling, pattern of conflict, and creative use of words and phrases of original Pulp.
I appear to fit the definition of New Pulp.
Now, cyberpunk pulp.
Let me break it down.
Cyberpunk is, according to Wikipedia
science fiction in a near-future setting. Noted for its focus on “high tech and low life,” it features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.
Cyberpunk plots often center on a conflict among hackers, artificial intelligences, and megacorporations…
Let’s look at my fiction and see if it fits.
I write a series of stories about Kat and Mouse, a pair of female mercenaries who operate in the city of Bay City in the California Free State in the year 2042. As mercenaries, they take jobs from a variety of clients–some from individuals, others from megacorporations looking for a third party. Since they deal and operate outside the law, Kat and Mouse often encounter heavily armed opponents and must equip themselves properly. To that end, they are each fitted with biomodifications such as optical implants for night vision, infrared, and computerized targeting, and implanted body armor to defeat standard handgun rounds.
Down the cyberpunk checklist.
- Near-future setting? Check.
- Focus of “high tech and low life”? Check.
- Features advanced science such as information technology and cybernectics? Check.
- Degree of breakdown/radical change in the social order? Check.
- Plots center on a conflict among hackers, AI, and megacorporations? Two out of those three but check.
The Kat and Mouse stories fit the cyberpunk definition.
Add to that the definition of New Pulp and we get something like this:
Cyberpunk Pulp is science fiction in a near-future setting with a focus on “high tech and low life,” featuring advanced science coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order, with plots often centering on a conflict among hackers, artificial intelligences, and megacorporations written with the same sensibilities, linear storytelling, pattern of conflict, and creative use of words and phrases of original Pulp.
Now some of you might be scratching your head, saying, “Abner, ol’ buddy–that’s a mouthful.”
You might also be saying, “Abner, ol’ buddy–why go through all that? Why not just call it ‘cyberpunk’ and be done with it? Or better still, go with your original description. Sci-fi action-adventure.”
A couple of problems with that.
If I go with “sci-fi action-adventure,” there are some who would immediately think of Star Wars or Star Trek.
But it’s not that.
If I just call it “cyberpunk,” there are some who would expect some exploration of transhumanism or the impact of technology, positive or negative, on society.
But I don’t do that.
I write cyberpunk but with a pulp flavor.
The closest other subgenre I could compare it to would be sword and sorcery with its tales of high adventure and swashbuckling derring-do set against a backdrop of kings, queens, warlords, sorcerers, shining cities, and magic.
And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do with this. Tales of high adventure and swashbuckling derring-do set against a backdrop of noir cities, high tech gadetry, Orwellian governments, world-spanning megacorporations, and the underbelly of society.
In fact, Conan and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser were among the early influencers for the Kat and Mouse stories. After reading pages and pages of their adventures to get the right feel for those types of stories, I then took a tip from S&S writer Darrell Schweitzer. In his essay, “Sword and Sorcery, Dragon and Princess,” (from How to Write Tales of Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction edited by J.N. Williamson), Schweitzer advises:
You need an action plot. Sword and sorcery is not a field of deep psychological introspection. This is not what the readership comes to sword and sorcery stories for. Try for overt conflicts, plenty of physical action, and rapid plot movement. That is, if they’re plotting to overthrow the barbarian king in chapter one, by chapter two, the palace should be invaded by Serpent Men of Valusia, and in chapter three, the hero is magically whisked away to the Black Crypt of N’Kai. You get the idea.
That’s the underlying style I’m going for.
Overt conflicts. Plenty of physical action. Rapid plot movement.
No time to ponder the implications of implanted optical night vision. Kat sees the megacorporation’s gun-toting mook in the coming around the corner of a darkened corridor, she lets fly with a hail of .45-caliber slugs in a spray of fire and thunder, the mook’s chest craters six times, and he crumples.
That’s the idea.
That’s cyberpunk pulp.
Now–strap on your semi-autos, boot up your optical implants, and let’s get cyberpunk pulping.
Abner Senires writes cyberpunk pulp and probably drinks far too much coffee. He lives just outside Seattle, WA with his wife and a pair of rambunctious cats.
KAT AND MOUSE, GUNS FOR HIRE: PAYBACK
Things are heating up for near-future female mercenaries Kat and Mouse as they tackle even more hair-raising jobs for shadowy clients and run afoul of terrorists, freedom fighters, hired assassins, a Japanese crime syndicate, and warring punkergangs. And smack in the middle of this, an enemy from the past is back and wants revenge on the duo.
Now these two sassy sisters-in-arms must fight back and survive…and still get their jobs done.
And that’s it from me for today! Do go find this book and enjoy it. I read Book One back when it first came out, and enjoyed the heck out of it. I’m delighted to be getting my grubby paws on Book Two! Thank you, Ace, for posting with us today; it was a pleasure to read, as always. And tell Dr. Jericho I said hi!
I’ll be back on Friday for, well Fun Friday. Between now and then, don’t forget to comment, share, tweet. And if you have a recommendation for a Fun Friday posting, contact me at my email, which you can find on my About AJ page.
See you Friday!