Half Done Drowning

Some would argue that the time for cyberpunk is long past, that the present has caught up with the future in every meaningful way, leaving cyberpunk as this strange, vestigial genre clinging to the edges of science fiction and crime genres. Even Neal Stephenson summarily executed the genre before taking a hard U-turn into post-victorian nano clockwork punk in The Diamond Age.

Richard K. Morgan proved these detractors wrong in his brilliantly dark Takeshi Kovacs novels back in the early 00s and, while I can’t claim that A Cold Day to Drown will be anywhere near as revolutionary as Morgan’s books, I think it’s safe to say that there is nothing inherently career-killing about writing a cyberpunk novel.

(Have I said all this before? I know I’ve thought it a million times.)

The world of A Cold Day is beginning to fit together. I’ll have a lot of revision to do (as always), but the more I write in this novel the more I want to know about the world in which Talbot Liu lives. In the coming weeks I plan to publish some short behind the scenes pieces both here on my website and over on my Patreon project page. These will essentially consist of the documents which I compose (in addition to my daily 1500 words) in order to create a consistent set of rules to follow during revision.

Here’s an excerpt from today’s writing. As always, please remember that this is a first draft and will be polished (and possibly heavily revised) before publication.

—- Excerpt from A Cold Day to Drown (First Draft) —-

“Looking to pay you back.”

Darby leers into the camera, his bare muscles glistening as he holds the phone out so I can see that he is sitting shirtless in a padded chair. The room around him is hung about with vaguely medical devices. “Now, Tally, you know that’s not how favors work. I own the favor. You do me the favor when I call for it and, until then, I own you.”

“Getting another implant? Or is this just a tat?” I ask, identifying the room as one of the many shops that peddle unregulated implants. I’m surprised to see Darby there. He’s got enough money to pay for proper, tested and guaranteed wetware at the upper city or midden clinics. Why would he gamble with sepsis and implants that burn out after a few months?

He tilts the camera, revealing the reddened patch of skin on his left pectoral where the clinician has prepped him for surgery by slathering his skin in iodine. Guidelines drawn in black marker peek through the red sheen, revealing the path that the subdermal wires will take.

“This is going to be sweet, Tally. Remember that little show I put on for you in the office? Heh, this will be even better. Artificial tendons wired to an encrypted link.” He holds up an adhesive patch with several small probes on it. “Slap this baby on someone and I’ll feel every beat of their heart. Figure it could be fun for those special times when a client is… you know… fatally late in payment.”