My thoughts on attempting this in the dreaming, dissonant dystopia of the Eastern Pacific, 2099. Chosen Shackles has had a lot of influence from vaporwave, and cyberpunk fiction and film. Often, however, I take my cues and find my themes from art. It was that inclination to art which drew me to the aesthetic and idea of Vaporwave Fiction. I wanted to know what specific permutation of genre fiction would be a best embodiment.
Vaporwave as Art
After setting out to write, I began to wonder what it is which makes Vaporwave a coherent, recognizable form. Its signals to technology, in the glitch and neon hues, is nostalgic and dated. In that way, I believe that the cyber aspects are both incidental and integral.
Incidental in that, were it not so visually distinct in and of itself, the message would not have developed into a full aesthetic. Integral in that the message is about technology. I’m stating the obvious, but it would seem to me that how technology has changed even the way the world is witnessed, is parodied in Vaporwave. Especially in its references to tradition.
While disillusioned and surreal, Vaporwave views reality as if it were just as real as the virtual. A kind of solipsistic sentiment, romantically concerned with a disconnect from self. It’s that reduction of reality and personhood which is connected to the next common theme.
A cold look at society as an unstoppable glacier. No single individual in control of the collective destiny, and by extension, their own. The conditions are set, the outcome inexorable. Everything mechanistic at heart.
The subject of Vaporwave varies. From urban landscape, now to classical art, the pervasive feeling of being out of touch reflects critically on the rise of modern society. As a postmodern or post-postmodern aesthetic, no answer to our problems is proposed, only a varied response of despair, rejection, resignation, or acknowledgment. The narrative is interpretive yet I feel it’s pessimistic.
The track we’re on is not great. It appears that only in a brief time we’ll all know humanity’s final destination. Whether destroyed or dystopic, the take is not optimistic. At best, Vaporwave is Absurd in its outlook. As if saying that, ‘this is how it’s always been, so enjoy.’ Everything isn’t meant to be okay but instead a spectacle. And now more than ever, it is.
Cyberpunk as Vaporwave Fiction
Vaporwave fiction is best thematically suited for Cyberpunk, I think we can agree. But beyond that, what are the specific themes which one should cover when trying to write Vaporwave Cyberpunk specifically?
It’s that question which we will practice an answer to, here.
Cyberpunk tropes alone are not sufficient to constitute Vaporwave Fiction. An intentional take requires specific thematic deconstructions and sub-genre.
Vaporwave, in its self-aware fashion, living online, sees the world through a detached and incomprehensible eye. A bewilderment at the choices of modern society and the degradation of information and purpose in a connected, secular, and irrationally rationalistic society.
For this reason, the issues Frode faces will primarily be the grind and risk of living. The need to participate in the world, despite no feeling of agency, and how he takes direction to change that.
Many of you, including myself, feel lost in a globalized world screaming the fact we’re no longer integral to the process. The next nearest societal unit to the person is swiftly becoming the world. The wheel’s turning gets further away as the scope zooms back on humanity’s growth into the monolith, and the individual stays the same size.
A character arc can be created which leads to a solution to this smallness, in whatever form. A reflection on pain with the intent to justify or understand, finding a recourse from apathy.
Finally, the form and tools of narration.
Short of stream-of-consciousness, it would be better to abstain from overly formalized writing. A personal, talkative narrator will be good. One who poses questions and addresses their own observations in more poetic fashion. There’s a balance to strike, however, between rationality and an unreliable narrator.
With a BCI input directly into Frode’s experience at points, this provides the opportunity to visualize a dreamlike world. Through subconscious feedback and psycho-data imprints, reality can be overlaid with an unseen spiritual dimension, potentially. This is something I’m interested to explore.
My conclusion is that Vaporwave Cyberpunk, specifically, must draw from elements of the modern supernatural.
From there, a distinctly cerebral and philosophical approach to storytelling can hopefully carry out the vision. The transition to adulthood and struggle to understand what that necessitates. As always, I try to be ambitious.
Now that I’ve laid out a path, I will revisit it in the future to see how it has unfolded. Read, just as with my previous work, only at the front end as well, I give my thoughts on how themes will or have been handled. Ultimately, though, Chosen Shackles and all my writing is a cathartic experience. This will be my first primarily reflective story, and I’m tremendously jazzed about the way Cyberpunk as a genre facilitates this.
Time to start dreaming.