This cyberpunk murder mystery looks lovely, but feels incomplete


I was ready to love Murder from the moment the game opened on a female police lieutenant waking from a rain-soaked cyberpunk nightmare about murderous robots, and walking out on her balcony to smoke a cigarette over the light-spattered skyscrapers of Future Tokyo. "Yes," I thought, "I'm in." Sadly, I spoke a little too soon.

Developed by Peter Moorhead, the creator behind the abandoned astronaut game Stranded, Murder is another brief, point-and-click adventure illustrated with beautiful pixel art. This time around, Moorehead promises players a "short story" that delves into some pretty lofty ideas: "the intersection of morality and sentience, in a future where both are commodities."

The moral crux of the story revolves around the sentient service robots of Murder's near-future world, and whether humans can ethically use them for unpaid labor. If that sounds familiar, it should. It's an idea that has been explored rather extensively by some very talented science fiction writers, and even trickled far enough into the mainstream to inspire a Will Smith movie. That doesn't meant there isn't anything left to say about it, only that the notion of robot sentience and the civil rights implications around it aren't exactly fresh ideas, and the mere mention of them is not enough to carry a story, even a short one.

Ostensibly, the game is a murder mystery; as Lieutenant Motomeru Minori, you're tasked with investigating a brutal killing, the latest in a string of mysterious deaths. But "investigate" might be a strong word—you visit one crime scene, exchange a few one-liners with some other cops, and that's about it. Read the rest

Beautiful pixel art of a cyberpunk coffeeshop in the rain


In this 12-frame animated gif, pixel artist Kirokaze imagines a small sliver of a rainy day in a world of "thought vigilance" and random ID checks, where a mysterious woman sips coffee and watches the world rush by, twirling a knife idly in her hand. Check out more of Kirokaze's work on Deviantart, or follow them on Twitter. Read the rest

Mondo 2000 retrospective in Wired - UPDATED

When I saw my first issue of "Reality Hackers" -- at a bookstore I was working at in high-school -- I knew I wanted to keep reading this magazine, and made my boss place a big order for the next issue, which was called "Mondo 2000." Read the rest

Brian Wood's Starve: get to your comic shop now!

Brian "DMZ" Wood's new comic from IMAGE is Starve, and issue one, which just hit shelves at your local comic shop is the strongest start since Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan. Read the rest

Your cyberpunk games are dangerous

How roleplaying games and fantasy fiction confounded the FBI, confronted the law, and led to a more open web

Hapheads season one, all in one go!

Hapheads, the incredible crowdfunded science fiction drama (previous) is about to get its NYC premiere at Games of Change, and to celebrate, the creators have put all 75 minutes of season one online as a single video, without interruptions. Read the rest

Johnny Mnemonic and the perfect cyberpunk movie it wasn't

Before The Matrix, there was this, starring Beat Takeshi and Keanu Reeves. Cyberpunk's truest vision lurks not in gnostic fantasy but in the cheap mediocrity of corporate power.

Thousands of fish rescued from Bangkok's rotting, derelict mega-mall

Thousands of carp, iridescent sharks, catfish and tilapia have been netted from the flooded remains of the New World Mall in Bangkok, which has been collapsing in legal limbo since 1997, when judges ordered it demolished after finding that the 11-storey mall had been built on the basis of planning permission that only allowed for four storeys. Read the rest

WATCH: Trailer for Haphead, crowdfunded indie cyberpunk series about pro gamers

In one week, Toronto's Postopian Pictures -- the people who brought us Ghosts With Shit Jobs and many other delights -- will premiere their crowdfunded cyberpunk series Haphead (previously): Read the rest

Shave a stripe into your head, get $95 off visit to cyberpunk indie movie shoot

Jim Munroe sez, "In our webseries set 10 years from now, teenagers have learned that shaving their hair at the haptic cable's point of contact allows them to overclock their game's tactile feedback. As well as boosting the signal and muscle memory retention, the shaved stripes become a subcultural indicator of sorts." Read the rest

Richard Kadrey's Metrophage back in print in signed special edition

Before there was Sandman Slim, there was Richard Kadrey's classic, groundbreaking cyberpunk debut novel Metrophage, a Terry Carr Ace Special (the same line that gave us Neuromancer) -- now it's back in print. Read the rest

William Gibson reads Neuromancer

It's from the original audio edition of his seminal 1984 novel, which is sadly no longer available, though it's easy enough to find bootlegs online. Read the rest

Alien Autopsy: William Barker on Schwa, two decades later

Twenty years ago, William Barker's Schwa artwork revealed a world of alien abductions, stick figure insanity, conspiratorial crazy, and a hyper-branded surveillance state. It's now more relevant than ever.

Cyberpocalypse: the cyberpunk Lego city

In 2013, a group of Lego masters unveiled Cyberpocalypse, a spectacularly detailed, moody, neon-lit cyberpunk city. It's a triumph of EL wire and science fiction aesthetics, a kind of bricky Burning Man theme-camp in miniature. Read the rest

RU Sirius on the history of cypherpunk

Over at The Verge, our pal RU Sirius writes about the history of "cypherpunk," a term coined in 1992 by legendary hacker St. Jude Milhon (RIP), and now used by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the title of his new book, Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet. From RU's piece at The Verge:
(EFF co-founder) John Gilmore summed up the accomplishments of the cypherpunks in a recent email: "We did reshape the world," he wrote. "We broke encryption loose from government control in the commercial and free software world, in a big way. We built solid encryption and both circumvented and changed the corrupt US legal regime so that strong encryption could be developed by anyone worldwide and deployed by anyone worldwide," including WikiLeaks.

As the 1990s rolled forward, many cypherpunks went to work for the man, bringing strong crypto to financial services and banks (on the whole, probably better than the alternative). Still, crypto-activism continued and the cypherpunk mailing list blossomed as an exchange for both practical encryption data and spirited, sometimes-gleeful argumentation, before finally peaking in 1997. This was when cypherpunk’s mindshare seemed to recede, possibly in proportion to the utopian effervescence of the early cyberculture. But the cypherpunk meme may now be finding a sort of rebirth in one of the biggest and most important stories in the fledgeling 21st century.

"Cypherpunk rising: WikiLeaks, encryption, and the coming surveillance dystopia" Read the rest

Soccer match-rigging, straight out of a Gibson novel

Here's a brutal, must-read article from Brian Phillips detailing the bizarre, globalized game of soccer-match-rigging, which launders its influence, money and bets through countries all over the world, in what sounds like an intense, sport-themed LARP of a William Gibson Sprawl novel:

Right now, Dan Tan's programmers are busy reverse-engineering the safeguards of online betting houses. About $3 billion is wagered on sports every day, most of it on soccer, most of it in Asia. That's a lot of noise on the big exchanges. We can exploit the fluctuations, rig the bets in a way that won't trip the houses' alarms. And there are so many moments in a soccer game that could swing either way. All you have to do is see an Ilves tackle in the box where maybe the Viikingit forward took a dive. It happens all the time. It would happen anyway. So while you're running around the pitch in Finland, the syndicate will have computers placing high-volume max bets on whatever outcome the bosses decided on, using markets in Manila that take bets during games, timing the surges so the security bots don't spot anything suspicious. The exchanges don't care, not really. They get a cut of all the action anyway. The system is stacked so it's gamblers further down the chain who bear all the risks.

What's that — you're worried about getting caught? It won't happen. Think about the complexity of our operation. We are organized in Singapore, I flew from Budapest, the match is in Finland, we're wagering in the Philippines using masked computer clusters from Bangkok to Jakarta.

Read the rest

Luminous retro Cyberpunk costume

Photo by Mike Vickers

In the Boing Boing Flickr pool, Melissa Li shares some wonderful photo documentation of a cool costume she developed in multiple editions, over a period of years. Above, "Cyberpunk 2.0," the 2012 build: Read the rest

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