Drugs in the Zeitgeist Sounds Like A Good Name For Your Post-Industrial Band

Stay with me for a second, I’m going to recap my book, but this isn’t about promotion.

I wrote Rx: A Tale of Electronegativity, a weird little cyberpunk novel about a society whose primary form of entertainment is custom drug cocktails. They have Feeds in all of their homes, like we have cable connections. The Feeds are tiny 3D printers, and the user subscribes to blocks of chemicals as we would channels, which they use to build the drugs they want. The main character, Red, is a beta tester — somebody that tests out the early versions of new corporate concoctions to work the bugs out before release. There’s a lot I’m leaving out in that description, but I would like to introduce you to the plot synopsis of Daryl Gregory’s Afterparty now:

Any high school student with a chemjet and an internet connection could download recipes and print small-batch drugs. The creative types liked to fuck with the recipes, try them out on their friends. People swallowed paper all the time without knowing what they were chewing. Half the residents of the NAT ward weren’t addicts; they were beta testers.

Again, there’s a lot I’m leaving out of the description of that book. But wow, look at the similarities! Now, we all have a negative bias towards stuff like this on the internet, but I want to make it clear I’m not calling plagiarism or anything. Daryl Gregory never heard of me or my strange little book before he got his publishing deal. This is kind of how science fiction works: You look at emerging tech, and the direction our society is headed in, and you extrapolate out something cool, strange, or ridiculous from that. Then you tell a story in that space.

Daryl and I both just happened to look at the emergence of 3D printers; at the new smart pharmaceuticals and the increasing acceptance of their role in our culture; at tech fetishism and early adoption, and we both arrived at 3D printed smart drugs with seemingly impossible effects, and the shift from “addict” to “beta tester.” On the one hand, I think that’s pretty damn cool. On the other hand, I think that’s pretty damn concerning. If multiple authors are starting to extrapolate out this kind of future from our present, there might be something to it, and neither of our worlds were all that pleasant.

I’m not saying we’ll have a god drug, like in Afterparty, or uh…stairwell-dwelling phallus kings like in my ridiculous abomination, but there’s clearly something in the zeitgeist with 3D printing, smart drugs, and home users. While having your own custom drug-machine sounds great, there are some very worrying implications to wide-spread smart drugs. For example, check out this story about the implications of a proposed ‘anti-love drug.’ One of which was “curing” homosexuals…

My memory’s a little faulty, and there was a lot going on, but I do believe I saw an advert for “No-Gay” in the background of an issue of Transmetropolitan. I guess I just start to worry when we, as a species, start striving for a world that Warren Ellis wrote.

5 thoughts on “Drugs in the Zeitgeist Sounds Like A Good Name For Your Post-Industrial Band

  1. derek pennycuff

    if _afterparty_ involves abraham lincoln: dinosaur hunter then you should call a lawyer.

    Reply
  2. T.J.

    I always assumed RX was loosely inspired by the James Patrick Kelly’s story “Solstice”, which appeared in the seminal cyberpunk anthology “Mirrorshades”. If so, maybe you and Gregory were just drinking from the same commercialized, designer-drug laced watering hole when the zeitgeist and the tech finally caught up to 80s

    Reply
  3. alpine

    Reminded me of the movie “limitless” or especially an almost human episode “perception” which a home synthesized smart drug kills students at a large dose. Recommend both the film and series i’ve mentioned. Keep up the great writing sir.

    Reply

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