At a Glance:The science-fiction subgenre of "Cyberpunk" was at its pinnacle in the mid to late eighties, when authors such as William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and George Alec Effinger produced intense and disturbing near-future vistas. Then came the glut of imitators that follow any decent literary trend, and despite some definite exceptions, the cyberpunk genre has fallen down the stairs and hurt its back. If I ever actually complete a novel chances are it will fall into this subgenre, so to save you the effort of ever buying a novel I write I've selected cyberpunk as this week's SA Story Time theme.

Literary Hack Sub-Genre: Cyberpunk Gone Bad

Chapter One - Concrete Deceleration Trauma

Dare hangs out at Interface, one of the seediest bars in all of Neo Tokyo.The sky was the color of a TV tuned to a 1950's test pattern, black and white with a giant holographic profile of an Indian chief projected across the moon. Below were the cluttered smokestacks, twisting alleyways and neon soaked streets of Neo Tokyo. Many say that Neo Tokyo was built on the ashes of Original Tokyo, but this is incorrect since a Wal Mart Ultra Mega Super Store was built on the ashes of Original Tokyo. Neo Tokyo was actually built on the ashes of Gary, Indiana.

Dare was sitting in a dive bar called "Interface", nursing a sex-on-the-beach from a novelty giant margarita glass that also contained two cherries bisected by a small red pirate's sword made of long-chain polymers. The bartender's name was Trodefire and his right arm was a prosthetic blender from Russia that whined when he tried to blend drinks with too much ice. Trodefire was trying to dislodge some particularly obstinate shaved coconut from the rotating cybernetic blender blades inside his prosthetic arm.

Dare could feel the nanorobots tearing up his cerebral cortex, using his spinal cord as a drag strip, and beating the crud out of his neurons and stealing their lunch money.. The Yakuza had put them there after a botched job, ending his career as a Geocities runner, eating away his nervous system so he could never log on again.

Geocities was the artificial reality generated by computers on which all data was stored. It was more than a simple storage medium though, it was a mass-consensual hallucination of a pop-up ad controlled by powerful supercomputers maintained at the Internet Corporation headquarters in Diamond City. It was a grid of stars expanding endlessly in all directions, glowing towers and conduits of binary, porn ads everywhere, some broken image links.

Dare took a sip of his sex on the beach and leaned back in the battered Taiwanese barstool, his mirrorshades reflecting a huge holographic advertisement for NanoFresh feminine hygiene pads. "For your high-flow days," chirped the ad, projecting an animation of robots shooting lasers at red blood cells.

Vera worked at Turkish Express, all lips, hips, and deadly strong Turkish coffee.Then she walked in. He had hoped he would never see her again, but there she was all hip-hugging vinyl and crimson lipstick. The golden tipped Geocities jacks on her temple shining like a polished diamond that had been glued to her face with three-bond polyadhesive. She just looked at him for long seconds, their history an accretion of lies and longing between them. Dare took one last sip of his sex on the beach, draining it to the ice, and thought that she looked odd not wearing her Turkish Express uniform.

"Do you know me?" Her question was deep and pointed, like a spear driven into the Marianas Trench.

How could he not, she served him coffee at the Turkish Express stand down the block from his shitbox of an apartment. Her name was Vera, he saw it on her nametag every day, he knew she was another assassin sent by the Yakuza to finish him off. What she knew was no doubt contained in a hundred dossiers and précis files created by the Yakuza's master AI Honeypot. At the same time he thought about her lips wrapped around a digital chorizo from the MexiTex shop nearby, a chocolate one, a warm one.

He shuddered and felt ten thousand tiny robot ninjas screaming in his veins.

"I've been watching you for a long time Dare," she took a seat next to him. "My employer is looking for someone with experience in Geocities who can recover some information for them."

"I don't run anymore," replied Daring. "Besides, no way am I helping the Yaks."

She chuckled and tossed her head so her blonde and red-streaked hair swung over her shoulder as seductively as an erotic nuclear bomb.

"I don't work for the yakuza," she smiled. "If you have to know, I work for the Musical Birthday FunDation. It's a party center for children on their birthdays. We just need you to do a little infiltration work on our competitor and nab some data from their server."

"I told you-," began Dare, but she interrupted very rudely.

"We're willing to remove the nanorobots with this," she held out an autoinjector. "It's a hunter nanorobot vaccine, they'll track down the infested nanorobots and destroy them with nanolasers."

Dare reached for it but she pulled it back.

"You have to agree first," she said. "I'll provide the muscle myself, you just have to go into their compound with me and then enter their network from the inside."

"It's a deal," Dare grabbed the autoinjector and pressed it against his arm. The hiss of the injection was masked by the grinding of Trodefire's blender arm as he began to mix a pina colada.

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