I’ve updated the page that deals with The Language of The City, documenting the slang, idiom and jargon of the streets, taking into account some of the new words spawned in the short stories.
Tag Archives: worldbuilding
A few days ago I was told by a young woman I couldn’t have been any older than in my 20’s; of course she was trying to sell me something at the time, so it could just have been flattery. Luckily I escaped with the meager contents of my bank account intact.
The reality is I am a bit older than that. I grew up in a different era. The computer and digital toys that kids today take for granted were either unheard of or only just coming into existence when I was their age. The biggest threat we faced was the Soviets and US nuking the planet – that or the next ice age, which would have been preferable. We thought the dystopic future seen in cyberpunk was a very real prospect, given the way things were going.
It was while in high school that I first saw Blade Runner – I had taped it on VCR (kids ask your parents what that is) on a TV with lousy reception.
Despite that I instantly fell in love with the movie. To this day, over 20 years later, it is still my favourite movie of all time.
Then in my last couple of years of high school and on into university I got into RPGs in a big way – the pen and paper version, not the so called computer RPGs (see, technology does have a downside). That was at the start of the technological revolution – cassette tapes and VCRs were giving way to CDs and the internet was becoming more into vogue. At the time it was still mostly limited to places like education centers, but I picked it up early. It was slow – mere dial up – and limited. The first home plan I had was for just 20 hours online a month.
At first it was mostly D&D (and basic at that before moving on to 2nd Ed), but we were soon introduced to Cyberpunk 2020 (2nd Ed) and it soon rocketed to one of our most played gaming systems for a number of years. A bit later on a new recruit to the circle introduced us to Shadowrun, but it didn’t catch on like CP2020 did.
I collected most of the source books (and hope to get the ones I missed out on some day), and even got into Netrunner, the cyberpunk collectible card game.
There was something about the cyberpunk setting that grabbed me. It was gritty, it was different and it was a way to play at a Blade Runner-esque world. It was all about style over substance – sure you could be hackers and anti-heroes trying to make a difference in a corrupt world, but you went about it with style, flair and panache – all long coats and mirrorshades body augments. For the slightly socially inept geeky kids we were, being suave and cool was something to relish.
Of course as the years went on the group fell apart as people moved all over the country (and world) getting jobs and the like and the CP2020 days ended.
And the world changed. Technologies continued to advance – some predicted by cyberpunk, others not – and new genres came to the fore. Chief among those was paranormal.
A couple of years back I was contemplating writing something new and the idea at having a go at paranormal came to mind. I was doing a fair bit of walking back then, and on one of those strolls I was mulling over how to write paranormal that was different than the norm. One of the things I was contemplating was how magic and tech were usually seen as mutually incompatible. Then the idea came to me to go completely against that and go back to the roots of what I love – the cyberpunk genre. By the end of the walk the character of Braeden Wolf was born – and has barely changed since – and the intro of The Seduction of Honey had been written in my head before I got home.
Despite this the idea sat idle for another year before I wrote up a couple of novellas, and at the encouragement of a fellow writer on twitter, actually tried to make something of them. Surprisingly it seemed to work.
So why cyberpunk? Part nostalgia, part for a different take on paranormal and part because it allows me to build a world that, while our world, is different enough so as not to be totally familiar – that way I don’t have to worry about the details of our real world as much. It gives me a chance to explore and create – such as with the language of the streets, its slang and jargon and idiom, that is slowly developing the more I write.
But mostly because I enjoy it – and that, when it comes to writing, is the main thing.
For this first look at the characters of The City it is best to let Braeden Wolf describe himself in his own words.
Who am I?
I could give a long psychobabble answer asking who any of us are, but I inevitably return to the same answer; I am a collection of bad habits marinated in whiskey.
The man I call Squire is both more and less generous in his description.
He says I am an unrepentant womaniser, an abuser of alcohol and combat drugs, and of my body, that I consort with the wrong types, dabble in hexes, am cynical and sarcastic and a remorseless killer.
And those are my good points.
Yet for that he is not completely wrong.
What can I say, I like the ladies and the ladies like me. There is no crime in that. Not just human ladies, but vamps and sirens and even the aos sí. I don’t dabble with succubi; there are some lines I won’t cross, and succubi are a sure trip to the black. It is a dangerous life I live and I try to live it to the full while I can, whether that be wine, woman or song.
I think of myself as a realist, not a cynic, but there are days the line blurs. I’m not exactly alone in this regards; you’d never be an idealist, not in this city, with its crime and corruption and all the darkness it contains.
As for being a remorseless killer, I only kill those that deserve it. There are many monsters in this city, and some of them are even human. Few others worry about what happens to the teeming masses; I’m not saying I care, but someone needs to do something; my reasons for doing so are my own. I don’t hunt down all monsters; some, like the trolls, are just trying to live their lives like anyone else.
That is a long and unnecessary story.
Needless to say I was born in The City, I’ve lived my life in The City and I will die in the City.
I am an Incanter, though there are others more powerful and with greater finesse, or both, than me. My advantage is that I am willing to fight dirty, a street brawler, willing to use hexes, guns, knives, feet, hands, teeth, elbows and anything else that comes to hand. Most who use magic incantations tend to think of themselves are more refined, and that gives me an edge.
That, and the bioengineered and cybernetic augments I have. Tin eyes, tin ears, wired reflexes, muscle grafts, synthweave to bind the bones and skin, the usual suspects.
There is one gift I have that is unique; many Incanters have gifts, difficult to near impossible to replicate. Mine is the ability to know, on sight, what anyone is, whether human, troll, vamp, demon, aos sí, zombie or any other, disguised or not, even if I have not met their kind before. Knowledge is power, and that knowledge has saved my life on more than one occasion.
That is me in a nutshell, one of those mad disreputable types out walking the mean streets, hard and dangerous.
Be sure to say hello.
The world of The City is both confusingly different and remarkably similar to what you would expect, all at the same time. People go about their lives, struggling to make ends meet. They go to work, watch vids of sport and popular shows, listen to music, fall in love, eat, drink and go to parties. But there are differences, some subtle, other not.
It is a world where the paranormal and the bleak, dark future crash together, where corporations rule and national governments are shadows of their former selves, where vampires and trolls and magic incantations clash with heavy metal cybernetics in the urban wilderness.
So how did it come to be like this?
There has always been the paranormal, lurking around the edges. People knew of it but seldom experienced it. There was a burgeoning of the paranormal at about the time the world was experiencing a futureshock. Cybernetic and biogenetic augments were starting to make an appearance on the common market. Governments were crumbling under economic, political and social turmoil, all brought about by the short sighted greed of not just the politicians but in most cases the voters themselves. Younger generations were bankrupted to pay for the wanton lifestyles of their elders, ad they were not happy.
Into this turmoil the megacorps emerged, bailing out destitute governments – for a cost naturally. Exemptions were made, then more, until it arrived at the stage where it was the corps calling the shots, ruling the world from their fortified skyscrapers and with their private armies, battling each other in clandestine wars for wealth and power. Hostile takeovers have a rather new and more literal meaning.
All this turmoil and upheaval coming at once produced a kind of shock. Cults and gangs and movements emerged. The paranormal became commonplace. There were opportunities to be had but at the same time great dangers.
And nowhere is this more evident than in The City.