SUMMARY | Q&A Interview | REVIEW

Cypulchre Summary: CYPULCHRE is a dark and twisted cyberpunk thriller, that will take readers on a journey through revolt and redemption, high-tech nightmares and low-life dreams.
Writer: Joseph MacKinnon
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The inventor of the CLOUD technology—that’s swept Los Angeles’ rich and willing into the noosphere—has lived in exile for a decade, north of the mountains, feared, defamed, and despised by his former colleagues and estranged family. When he learns that the same technology that led to his downfall now threatens his family as well as the thousands synchronized to it, he must take action. Nothing is what it seems, especially with his psychoses turning allies to enemies, and enemies into demons. cypulchre


Q&A Interview With Writer Joseph MacKinnon:
TG: What were some of your early influences and current ones?
JM: Early influences so far as writing is concerned (ones that I’d love to emulate): Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, Isaac Asimov, G.K. Chesterton, Philip K. Dick, Joseph Conrad, Ray Bradbury, and Hemingway. Confession: I used to take Star Wars audio books out of the library and listen to them on my dad’s cassette player. I was a big Harrison Ford fan and, blurring the lines between actor and character, was desperate to find out what happened to Han Solo after the movies.

Recent influences: There is a lot of overlap, but in the past few years, a lot of science fiction, particularly William Gibson, Orwell, Huxley, and Dick. I’m also in love with Ellis’ Hellblazer, Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49”, Sheila Watson’s “The Double Hook”, Chris Ware’s “Jimmy Corrigan,” and Joe Sacco’s “Safe Area Gorazde.”

TG: How did you get into writing? Why the Cyberpunk genre in particular? Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
JM: When I was really young, my parents had an ingenious ploy where they’d prompt me to invent and tell them stories on the spot while giving them neck rubs. Why neck rubs? Helps the creative process, of course! I’m grateful for this trickery, because I’ve been telling stories and tall-tales ever since.

In terms of getting into writing, I dabbled but was never really serious about it until I went to college. There, I had a number of existential crises (which have all been more or less resolved). I found the best way to deal with whatever question or fear was plighting me was to write through it. I also played music, but that’s another thing altogether. My first long-fiction piece was a work called The Fallen Inconscient—a 40-page theodicy re-contextualizing Satan’s fall from Grace—a read that I wouldn’t force on my worst enemy.

Re: Cyberpunk For about a decade, I had a recurring and emotionally-paralyzing nightmare that used to make the very idea of sleep unnerving. It was of chaos—an overwhelming cloud of numbers and wires that would dwarf my very person and render my individuality moot. In the dream I’d yell and fight, but there was nothing to be done. The datascape would swallow me and that’d be it. I’ve since fetishized that feeling of powerlessness; it has been and can be well represented in cyberpunk, particularly where cyberspace is concerned. In the darkness between low lifes and high tech, I can see that chaos burbling.

Advice? Write about whatever it is that most interests you. If you’re bored, chances are, so are your readers.

Do you write by PC, typewriter or hand?
JM: For any given project, I usually have a few notebooks on the go, two Word docs open, and a stack of printer paper blotted with indecipherable scrawl, not to mention the five-or-so back-up saves I’ve emailed around to my different aliases.

TG: Do you listen to music while writing if so what’s usually on your playlist?
JM: If I’m writing, I can’t listen to music with lyrics. I find that if Brody Dalle’s sweet voice is piping through my speakers, part of my mind gets caught up with the lyrics, thus splitting my attention, especially dangerous when the writing process demands and deserves all 100%. For Faultline 49, I listened to Philip Glass’ discography a few times over. A lot of classics (i.e. Beethoven, Bach, etc.) and some electro mayhem. I do, however, love to idle and daydream (part of my process), which requires music of all kinds. I try to become my characters and let the soundtrack dictate circumstance and context, and then I attempt to determine how they’d behave by acting on their behalf. Granted their interactions in this solipsism of sorts, I then know how they’ll react when they reach a certain event or pressure point in the story I’m working on.

Usually on the playlist: Queens of the Stone Age, Philip Glass, Ashley MacIsaac, NIN, Truckfighters, Death From Above 1979, Glitchmob, Graveyard, Isis, Clutch, and Tool.

TG: How did you come up with the title?
JM: The title… I was reading an article about the history of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. I loved the sound of the word sepulchre. Three syllables. Rolls off your tongue. Means a place of burial or a place for religious relics. I already had a rough map of the story I wanted to tell, and realized that the towers housing Los Angeles’ minds and bodies were ultimately tombs. The cyber- prefix melded well, and it too rolled off the tongue, so Cypulchre stuck.

If you could spend some time in the CLOUD, would you? What would you do?
JM: If I could spend some time in the CLOUD, I’d probably synch to a stuntman’s memex and ghost over risks and gambles I would not have otherwise experienced. Hell, I’d synchronize to Josh Homme’s memex and see him jam Better Living Through Chemistry. To be perfectly honest, I’d move to the embattled south and live a life free from the technological lures of the Blue Zone, and let the desert wind and RIM tick revolutionaries test my mettle. After all, wouldn’t it be better to be the source of the memories, knowledge, and information? Anybody can read history. It’d be far more interesting to make it. What would you do?

TG: What’s your fascination with monocles?
JM: Monocles? Who doesn’t want a Monocle?

REVIEW: Score: Avoid | Skip | Rent | Sale | Buy
Do you harken back to the times of William Gibson’s Neuromancer or Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash? Canadian’s Joseph MacKinnon second book Cypulchre might quench your thirst. The story follows Dr. Paul Sheffield, his assistant Oni and his coworker Dr. Shouta Katajimaa’s accidental discovery of a brand new technology called the CLOUD. Their falling out and how the megacorporation Outland that they worked for led by Niles Winchester III takes control of said invention. Paul’s gamble to put everything on everything to redeem himself in the eyes of his wife Rachel and his two kids Pythia and Angela.

It’s a roller coaster ride that will have Paul go through different city sectors like the RIM, Blue Zones and the PIT which MacKinnon knows how to describe in minute detail like your actually there. While the ending might not be entirely conceived as original the ride to said destination makes it required reading for any Cyberpunk aficionado. The book comes with it’s own glossary which could be a welcome addition of terminology to any Shadowrun or Cyberpunk 2020/2077 campaign. It wouldn’t surprise me to see words like CLOUD, Memex, Noosphere, Cypulchre and the famous Monocle be integrated into future stories.

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