I have not written action, pure, enjoyable action – not a deconstruction or a subversion or any such thing – for a very long time. Whenever I try I find I want to subvert expectations – and so, in this season of writing short stories against my grain I thought I would write a simple cyberpunk-esque fight scene. There is not much to comment on – my intent was to simply try and write an exciting vignette rather than an in-depth dissection of a genre.
After my last story ended up a very dark one, all about the horrible secrets behind something innocuous, I wanted to write something very lighthearted. One of my favourite animated films is Kiki’s Delivery Service, mostly because of how amiably it presents the idea of magic in everyday life and how it talks about ideas of the expectations placed on young people. I was thinking about it recently, along with other nonviolent magical girl anime; series like Creamy Mami about trying to use magic for fun. A lot of the ways in which magic is depicted in such fiction are as wish-fulfillment opportunities. They give a girl the chance to do what she has always wanted to, to not want for things. Even in the more combat-oriented series like Sailor Moon, it is someone on the bottom rung socially given the power.
If you think about it, magic, as the power to become something else, is effectively wealth and privilege. So, I began thinking about turning this around; what if a good-hearted person of comfortable means was given magic? How would they use it well? The answer, I felt, was this…
I do not want to give this story the usual lengthy explanation of my inspirations and intentions, because it is intended to be interpreted by the reader. This sounds perverse – usually I relish the opportunity to explain my thought processes in these stories – but in this case, as part of my intent this NaNoWriMo to experiment with my writing, I am leaving the interpretation of events to the reader.
This year, for National Novel Writing Month, I am not writing a novel. I aim to use it to write more short stories, and try and write more challenging ones for me. Ones that try to be more ambitious in their scope, or explore ideas I am interested in in some new way. This is one of those, a response to what is best called cyborg fiction – that introspective science-fiction about the meaning of humanity in a transhumanist world, about being a machine. I dearly love Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell and even, in lighter handlings of the story, Full Metal Alchemist, Astro Boy and Robocop. I think these stories are if anything even more timely the closer science comes to the science-fiction prosthetics they depict – in a real life where transhumanism is discussed seriously as a possible future for mankind, asking questions about whether it is morally acceptable, and where boundaries should be drawn is vital.
My perspective, which comes across very plainly in this piece, is that transhumanism is entirely the wrong attitude to approach this technology from; rather than considering the idea that “mankind” (as argued generally from positions of privilege, and at times implicitly referring only to those privileged humans) needs uplifting to something beyond human, a better use of technology would be to give everyone equal opportunity. Before one can even begin considering what comes after humanity, humans should try to give everyone a fair opportunity in the world as it is – rather than creating an introspective circle dedicated to “improvement” of the lives of the already affluent and healthy.
Thus I wrote my own, arguably Oshii-esque, internal monologue of a cyborg. It is more than a little Robocop…