Tag Archives: Mong Kok

Goodbye privacy, in 2159 it’s a surveillance state. At least there’s no humans watching.

The latest in the digital, online, graphic novel/web comic: Page 42

Last week we moved location from the Mong Kok district to high atop TopCity and the landing zone for Police Headquarters in what was once the Causeway Bay area overlooking the harbor. On the 275th floor of Police Headquarters is the citywide, public security, command center. From here, almost every square inch of interior and exterior space in the 560 square miles that is Hong Kong 2. Everything is monitored by synthetics and illegal behavior can be detected even within someone’s living quarters. To learn more about the mesh see this link. Most people have come to accept this knowing that only synthetics with artificial intelligence are able to view the most intimate aspects of their lives. That is, of course, unless it is illegal behavior and then it becomes accessible to human authorities for evaluation and action. Nevertheless, the incredible light show that is the “big board” in the command center at Police HQ is quite a visual treat and there we find two key characters in The Lightstream Chronicles story, Chief Science Officer, Kristin Broulliard, her right-hand “synthetic” Toei-N, Commander of Synthetic Police. While human presence is not required in the command center the two seem to be perfectly content just “hanging out” and surveying the multitude of feeds and data displays from thousands of collection sites around the city.

command-close-up
The “big board” in the police headquarters, public security command center.

This week we see some friendly banter between the two friends.  Kristin is lamenting the lack of excitement in her life, reducing her evenings to hanging out in the police command center and talking to a synth. Though the term “synth” can be used in a derogatory way, it can also be interpreted as affectionate slang. Synths make ups significant portion of society. Numbering in the millions throughout the world, they serve in civil service jobs, manufacturing, law enforcement, the military, domestic service,  and also for companionship. They are available in hundreds of different configurations and designs, from deliberately non-human to virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. Some synthetics are so life-like that they are legally required to identify themselves and their “class” status upon before interacting with a human. A complex set of laws has been written and rewritten to accommodate these new designs providing rights and protections for both humans and synthetics.

Enjoy the conversation.

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Web Comic Comments on the Cyberpunk Future

As many a CG artist will tell you, finding something productive to do between renders can be a real challenge. I’ve manage to submit an article to a magazine and an abstract for a conference in Berlin this summer, but that seemed too go awfully fast. To make the time a bit more productive, I have been immersing myself in the world of cyberpunk, via Tumblr. I’ve managed to post and research quite a few images, and there seems to be no end to the creative visions of whoever my fellow Tumblr’s are. The hashtags are pretty consistent: #dystopia, #cyberpunk, #urban, #urban decay, #architecture, #futuristic, #transhuman, #sci-fi, #science fiction, #tech, #cyborg, #android, #crime thriller, #design fiction. But the well is very deep. If you are interested in seeing what I’ve compiled thus far stop on over to The Chrons.

Page 27

Need some cheap replacement retinas, a refurb on your artificial skin, a 50 finger massage, virtual, synthetic, or any other kind of sex you can imagine (or would rather not)? You’ve come to the right place: DownTown, Hong Kong 2, in the Mong Kok sector. Sean has arrived as of last week, his location logged by cyber-surveillance, and in panel 1, he has just crossed the street where he encounters throngs of people (using the term loosely) as well as all of the diversions DownTown has to offer. Sometimes I wish this really was a movie instead of still images, because in panel 1 the woman to the left of Sean has programmable skin that shows live action video of… whatever.

The 50 Fingers Massage Parlor. Therapeutic.

But Sean is on a mission and in panel 2, “A few minutes later” he has walked to a less crowded alleyway. Sean is a bit of a fish out of water here and the locals know it. A street urchin goads his friend to hit on the guy who looks like he’s from TopCity. Maybe the boots are a dead giveaway; too clean.

In panel 3, Sean has arrived a his destination, an antique electronics store that looks like it has all the most popular antique brand names from the 20th century (zoom opportunity).

What or who awaits him?

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Cyberpunk Web Comic New Post Page 26

Page 26 commentary

This is another one of my favorite pages. Sean has just emerged from the MagShuttle that descended the more than 300 floors to DownTown Mong Kok. There’s lots going on with this page but I have not spelled it out hoping that you will download and zoom in to the high resolution image. I’ve discussed the mesh in previous commentaries, so you already know that the New Asia government prides itself on knowing where everyone and what they are doing at any moment. In the year 2159 just say, “Goodbye privacy.” The only consolation is that most of the visual record of your life is monitored by dispassionate synthetics or biocomputers that aren’t voyeurs and they don’t make personal judgements. That is, unless they determine that you are breaking one of the laws of the New Asia Protocols. Risky business.

In panel 1 Sean is being scanned by a Hong Kong Police surveillance drone TS-1. If you don’t speak Chinese, these signs highlight the fact that this section of town specializes in buying and selling experiences – some legal, some not.

The TS-1 surveillance drone.
The TS-1 surveillance drone.

The drone in panel 2 captures both a visual of Sean and his identity data stored on the chipset that you are implanted with at birth that lives at the base of your cerebellum. This chipset is continually updated throughout your life with memories, emotions and experiences. The resulting readout gives a complete dossier on young Sean, but there is some data missing.

Even computers in the 22nd century have glitches.

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Cyberpunk commentary – Page 24

Herewith the director’s/artist’s/writer’s commentary on page 24 of The Lightstream Chronicles.

Now things are getting interesting. Last week Sean was about to step into the MagShuttle to head down to the dangerous street level in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong 2. Things will get a little grittier now and the oppressed, cyberpunk side of this society begins to gain some legibility.  In panel 1 Sean is inside and looking out at the view from more than 300 stories above. Upon entering and by virtue of the fact that his identity was logged before the shuttle doors would open, the mesh promptly notifies him that TopCity residents are not advised to travel to that dangerous section of town. (The mesh refers to amalgamation of every network of every device, everyone’s chipset, every touch sensor, camera, scanner, electronic device and active surface in the greater 47,000 square kilometers of the Hong Kong 2 Mega City. The mesh is monitored by New Asia government computers and police security forces. It knows where you are and what you are doing. Though it is not something they advertise, the New Asia government likes to think that the mesh sees everything.

Sean waives the warning without a second thought (typical teenager – even though he’s 18) and opts for street level. As the shuttle descends, the third panel is worth inspecting with a zoom. Once the shuttle drops below the 50 story mark of the TopCity Spanner we can see the descent through the 20th century architecture of old Mong Kok.

Zoom highlights:

For those who want to get the most out of the visuals, a zoom into panel 1 on this page and the last panel of the previous page shows some details of the MagShuttle interior, interface and navigation cameras, and panel 2 features a giant light panel (billboard) for the a synthetic companion from Almost Human Corporation, Sean’s employer. Panel 3 gives you a taste of the Mong Kok neighborhood.

 

A view from DownTown as the MagShuttle approaches.
A view from DownTown as the MagShuttle approaches.

 

To read more about the Hong Kong Mega city and the mesh see pages 5 & 6 of The Lightstream Chronicles, and there is additional backstory on the story or the 2159 pages.

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