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Kris Schnee has been a parrot trainer, an MIT graduate, a zoo intern, a lawyer, a game designer, and most recently a software developer. He lives in Florida. His main science fiction series "Thousand Tales" is upbeat, pro-freedom transhumanism in a future with a game-obsessed AI.

The gang's decker, Ralsei, was plugged in and slashing through cybersecurity at TokugawaCorp when Shintaro called for backup. Using his suitcase phone he said, "Steve, where are you? The 'borgs are closing in on our hideout!"
Steve yawned into his phone. "What? Did they declare honorable vendetta?"
"We're doing our raid, man! Why aren't you here?"
"I didn't know you were raiding."
"For Inari's sake, I posted about this on the Global MemeGrid yesterday. You know, 'Tomorrow, we retake control from the evil Murder Cyborgs'?" Bullets started rattling the warehouse walls but they held for now.
"There's your problem," said Steve. "You're not allowed to talk about Augmented CorpCitizens that way."
Shintaro was baffled. "I didn't get any violation notices or anything on my post."
"Yeah, it's a new thing--the Global MemeGrid secretly blocks anybody from seeing your posts if they contain banned terms. You're shouting into the void, buddy."
"But... they're cyborgs, they're not CorpCitizens, and they murder people. They're shooting right now!" Ralsei sat there placidly but a video screen showed his kitsune avatar doing furious battle with TokugawaCorp's virtual drones.
"Doesn't matter. GMG and the Dor-Sei Clan running it set the rules for honorable conversation. I hear 'megacorp' is getting blocked next."
"That's creepier than the 'borgs."
"Creepier than the what? Didn't hear you."
Shintaro growled. He tapped Ralsei on the shoulder and said, "Pull back and log out, man. We've got a bigger problem."
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Author Comments

1980s cyberpunk writing was based on the fears of that era: corporate dominance, Japanese influence, and a breakdown of law. What really happened was more subtle. We signed away much of our freedom and privacy willingly to a combination of over-protective government and over-inquisitive businesses. Because the Internet is so useful, we're faced with the new danger of people being shunned, de-platformed, and "canceled" because the loudest voices decide what opinions are forbidden. You can't fight that in the same way you can battle a cyborg hacker-ninja! This story shows the clash between those 80s story assumptions and the present day. It's not just for humor; we need new ideas and new stories to talk about what's wrong and how to fix it.

- Kris Schnee
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