Hey folks, I’m very pleased to get another interview going with Anna Mocikat, author of Behind Blue Eyes, Shadow City, and Cyber Squad. In addition, these awesome series, she is also the editor of the upcoming Neo Cyberpunk volume 2 anthology. She’s decided to sit down with us and explain what we can expect from that book.
[GdM] Could you describe what Neo Cyberpunk volume 2 is about?
[AM] Neo Cyberpunk II is an anthology book series featuring short stories written by some of the best contemporary cyberpunk authors. It’s the perfect read for cyberpunk fans and readers who experience the genre for the first time alike.
[GdM] Were you involved in the first volume?
[AM] Yes, I created Neo Cyberpunk and functioned as an organizer and editor for both books.
[GdM] What inspired you to create these books?
[AM] I love cyberpunk. For me, it’s the most exciting and innovative sci-fi subgenre. Yet for many people it’s stuck in the 80s and seen as retro-futurism. Some even claim cyberpunk was dead. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Cyberpunk has never been as much alive as it is now, with a new generation of incredible authors exploring this exciting genre in all its diversity. Cyberpunk is so much more than Neuromancer and Snow Crash.
[GdM] How would you describe cyberpunk to readers unfamiliar with the genre?
[AM] Haha, that’s the big question. If you look at social media, you’ll find people arguing endlessly about “What is Cyberpunk?”. One of the reasons I created Neo Cyberpunk is to show how incredibly diverse the genre is. Some works are more action-driven, others are deeply philosophical. Some are funny, others are set in grim, dystopian worlds. Some are set in the near future, in the next 20-40 years, others are set in a future as far away as 300 years or more.
Some are political, others are not. I think what separates cyberpunk from other sci-fi genres is that there are no alien races or intergalactical space travels. Most cyberpunk works is set on earth in relatively realistic, grounded settings. Most are set in urban areas in a world where often mega-corporations have replaced traditional governments. Transhumanism, AI and VR are very important topics in cyberpunk and most works deal at least with one of them, many include all.
[GdM] What appeals to you about cyberpunk?
[AM] Personally, I’m a huge fan of cyborgs. My love for them began many years ago when I saw Ghost in the Shell for the first time. The blend of human and machine and the philosophical and psychological questions coming with that fascinate me. It’s something I explore deeply in my own cyberpunk series Behind Blue Eyes. But as a reader, I enjoy all forms of cyberpunk.
[GdM] Do you think the cyberpunk genre is alive or dead?
[AM] As stated above, I think it’s more alive than ever. And Neo Cyberpunk is a great proof of that.
[GdM] Can you describe what your story is like inside the anthology?
[AM] My story The Heavenly Hunting Grounds is set in the Behind Blue Eyes universe and features one of the most popular characters of the series, Adriel, in a guest appearance. A woman wakes up in a strange place and soon finds out that she and hundred other people have been abducted to be used as game for members of the elite, who pay a lot of money to go on a “hunting party”. It’s all fun and giggles until a real apex predator descends on the wannabe hunters… The story is connected to Behind Blue Eyes: Fallen Angels but can be read as a stand-alone and enjoyed by readers who don’t know my books yet.
[GdM] What are some other stories that you think readers will like?
[AM] I handpicked all stories featured in the book and functioned as a beta reader for all authors, so I’m very proud to say that I think all of them are fantastic. I think there’s something in the book for every taste. Two stories are comedic, some are action-driven, and some are violent and very dark. It’s a unique blend.
[GdM] Do you have a favorite of the stories?
[AM] I do! I think the star among the stories in Neo Cyberpunk Volume 2 is Technoviking by Benjamin Fisher-Merritt. It’s about a man and his axe against a high-tech army, lol. It’s a great story and the character is a bit like a cyberpunk version of the Witcher. I’ve encouraged the author to make a novel out of the story and I think it’s going to be amazing! I mean, who doesn’t love a man and his axe fighting high-tech soldiers?
[GdM] How did you assemble so many authors for your anthology?
[AM] I’m as introverted as any author but I’m also very good at building networks and communities. I have created several groups for cyberpunk authors on Facebook, Twitter, and Discord, where authors can meet, exchange ideas and help each other out. Our genre is a small niche and I firmly believe that teamwork is the key to success for everyone.
That being said, I know a huge amount of very talented authors. The anthology could have featured many more stories by talented authors, but we wanted to cap it 15. I also would like to point out that, that while the whole thing was my idea, it wasn’t me alone who created the anthology. I could never have done it without my co-editor James L. Graetz and the help of Marlin Seigman and A.W. Wang.
[GdM] What can we expect from you in the future?
[AM] A lot! We’re only getting started with Neo Cyberpunk and hope to establish it as a long-running anthology series and a known brand in the cyberpunk literature scene. Other than that, I have my own books, of course. Behind Blue Eyes 3 will launch in March and I’m very excited about that. Besides this, I have two more series running and am about to launch a new one together with my friend and fellow cyberpunk author C.T. Phipps. When do I sleep, you ask? I don’t! I’m a cyborg after all.