CYBERPUNK 2009 TOP TEN: A Year In Review
Welcome to 2010, my digital surfers! 2009 was a fascinating year for cyberpunk, not only in fiction but in the slow bleed into reality. From the auspicious beginnings of Hard Drive to record-breaking hacks and new, real life cyberpunk technology, we had them all, and I've compiled my favorites.For easy synaptic absorption, I offer...
The Top 10 Cyberpunk Stories of 2009!
10. Hard Drive/Cyberpunkcomics.com debut
That's right, kiddies! In August 2009, Cyberpunkcomics.com went live, just before Toronto's Fan Expo. We met awesome people, spread the word, and sold some kick-ass t-shirts and comics. 2010 looks to be even better! Issue 2 is just around the corner...
9. Cory Doctorow
This guy is everywhere. He is co-editor of Boingboing.net, one of the best futurist websites out there. He published Little Brother, a well-written cyberpunk allegory for post-9/11 paranioa AND he gave it to us for free. You can download it from his website, or if you prefer hard copy, you have the option to buy the dead tree version. He also has been involved with the fight against oppression in cases such as Peter Watts, who was roughed up pretty severely by border crossing guards. Activist, author, and cyberpunk expert, if you want to know about cyberpunk, Cory Doctorow is the guy to go to.
8. More Cyberpunk Comics
Matt Fraction's Invincible Iron Man continued to rock our socks. Boom! Studios cracked out a stellar adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Brian K. Vaughn's Ex Machina rumbles towards the finale, and even the X-Men and Deathlok stood strong in the cyberpunk comic genre. Awesome stuff!
7.The Invention of Sixthsense
The "gestural interface" technology from Minority Report is not far off! Right now, the forerunner is Sixthsense, an experimental technology comprised of a pocket projector, a mirror and a camera that allows the user to manipulate computer images through hand gestures. The kicker is, it can be used with any flat surface! The concept has already won a PopSci Invention Award and the TR35 Young Inventor Award. Created by a team from M.I.T., the prototype only cost $350 to build, and the software is being honed to perfection, funded by Samsung for their new phones. Expect to see it soon!
6. Cyberpunk Movies
The Surrogates did okay at the theatres and was critically panned. The new Tron 2: Legacy trailer made cyberpunks salivate with anticipation. But Avatar...ah, sweet, sweet cyberpunk fantasy... Incredible eye-popping 3D and groundbreaking CGI made for an early Christmas present for cybergeeks everywhere, thanks to James Cameron. We love you, James. And we love "Dances with Smurfs."
5. Biggest Hacks in History
Both China and the U.S. fell victim to what was touted as the biggest computer hacks in the history of the Internet this year.
In China, a cybergang rented 81 servers for a DOS attack as revenge against "their rivals," causing a massive failure of the DNS in China. This effectively pulled the plug on millions of Chinese websurfers. The tough gang out for revenge was known for pimping out...a private server for online games and advertisements. Revenge of the nerds, indeed.
What is touted as the biggest hacker bust ever came courtesy of Heartland versus the hacker "segvec." Segvec and his crew used some serious (and scary) hacking skills and tools to crack Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven, and other companies wide open. Heartland is the 6th largest credit card processor in the United States, dealing with restaurants and retail. Segvec and co. were busted for stealing data related to more than 130 million credit and debit cards, and Segvec is currently in prison.
4. Big Brother Tightens His Grip
Isn't technology wonderful? Corporations and governments can use things like e-readers to monitor what you read, and for how long. CCTV cameras are passe, but your cell phone shows where you go, who you talk with and what you do. Whole-body image scanners at airports let security know if you are wearing boxers, a thong or going commando. No more secrets.
3. Yaar! She's sunk!
Torrent sites had a hard go of it this year, as aggressive legal action was taken to shut them down. Mininova was forced to go legal. Comic torrent tracker Z-Cult FM folded due to pressure from Marvel and DC. Rumors flew about the Chinese government shutting down torrent sites. The largest French torrent tracker Snowtiger was shut down with the help of the French Military!
But the really big news was made when Pirate Bay founders were ruled guilty of copyright violation just because their software allowed copyrighted material to be shared! Think about this one for a minute. Any owner of hardware or software that allows illegal activities is now vulnerable to a criminal charge! The implications for impact on the internet is...horrifying. The precedent is set. And the war has begun.
2. United States Military Hack!
We greatly appreciate the irony on this one. The US has been using Terminator-style killer planes called unmanned drones. These bad boys are remote controlled stealth planes that send video reconnaisance to controllers and even fire missiles! Using these in an already wartorn and crippled Iraq is like using a laser beam to cut butter. "Insurgents" got the last laugh, however, when they learned how to hack into the video surveillance streams! The cherry on top was that they used completely legal, cheap software to do it.
Aaaaand the number 1 cyberpunk story of the year is...
1. The war over the Internet
All governments and corporations view the Internet as a potential threat to their power. They are fighting tooth and nail to control it. China, Pakistan and North Korea opt for heavy-handed site blocking. But the western world is working towards something even more frightening: The illusion of free access to information. The telecom industries are scrambling to control access to what YOU surf. Watch the video below. FIGHT FOR NET NEUTRALITY, people. Free the internet. Be a hacktivist. Be a freedom fighter. Be a CYBERPUNK...Before they shut us all down...