Today I’ve got a guest post for you from Chris Sarantopoulos, author of Through Stranger Eyes and several other books and stories, he’s here to talk about the cyberpunk theming that inspired him to write Through Stranger Eyes. Enjoy!

Through Stranger Eyes cover

A lot of the sci-fi writers of the past, like Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein and all the others, who paved the way for the newer generations, wrote sci-fi with something very specific in mind: the repercussions technology would have to our understanding of certain things. Things like soul and morality, both for human beings as well as the societies we have built. They pushed the boundaries, and in doing so I think they wanted readers to sit down and think about things. The way I see it, in every story they wrote, there was almost always an underlying question they wanted us to answer. And to a certain extent, perhaps even a warning.

When I started writing my latest cyberpunk thriller, Through Stranger Eyes, I wanted people to do the same about things that in my opinion are important. Things that, even though the story takes place several centuries in the future, are current and should still make us stop and ask ourselves about them. And the most important question was, how far is too far?

As is the case with almost every cyberpunk story, the dominant theme is “high tech, low life.” So immediately, the question I asked myself was, what defines low life? That was the basis behind which I started creating the societal dynamics that would shape my characters. To show this in the most striking way possible, I came up with the idea of a stacked megacity. If that’s too hard to understand, imagine going to your window, looking out and up, and seeing the bottom part of another city on top of you instead of the sky. Then picture another on top of that and so on. The distance between each level is enough to accommodate skyscrapers, mind you. The poorest, those with the fewest opportunities in life, live at the very bottom and the richest at the top. This is one of the things that creates tension and resentment between the different social classes.

Another thing I saw as a means to push the moral boundaries and hopefully get people to think about, was the extensive use of high tech. So extensive that people would rely more and more to it, to the point where technology would become a necessity. A lot of people, myself included up to a certain extent, would say that this is inevitable. It’s in our nature to use technology, whether it’s using a flint stone to light a fire to warm a cave and keep wild predators at bay, or to enhancing our bodies with cybernetics to increase our abilities. But again, how far is too far? What would happen to us as a species if we altered ourselves so much that we no longer resembled a human being as we know it? How able would we be to survive on our own if we relied completely on the tech installed inside us, and then we realised that someone was using that tech, and inadvertedly us too, to further their own goals?

And in the case of Through Stranger Eyes, what would happen if all of the sudden we became a liability to someone and turned that technology into a weapon to take us off the picture?

Of course, there are other things I wanted to address that fitted well in the same “high tech, low life” concept. Mass consumerism, for instance. I’m talking about the invasive and aggressive side of consumerism. The one that, in a futuristic urban dystopia—as is the case of many cyberpunk stories—can even become a form of government. What would happen if this type of government, controlled by a group of companies, no longer saw us as citizens but as wallets meant to spend their contents for their products? What would their boundaries be, once they realised some of us no longer had enough money to spend on their products? Or if we openly spoke against their products? How would they treat us then? Would they create a society where our ability to buy things is the only defining characteristic?

All these questions and more are things I wanted to explore in the world I created for Through Stranger Eyes. In it, a relatively well-off member of that world, a doctor named Rick Stenslandt, one of those who object the fusion of man and machine, ends up in a near fatal accident and is forced to have cybernetic ocular implants or lose his social status. That’s when things take a turn for the worse, as he soon starts remembering murdering members of the governing corporate elite. Powerful and dangerous people. The problem is that he has never met them before. Things become even worse for him when the police finds out about it and consider him the main suspect. As if that wasn’t enough, a pair of trained augmented assassins is after him. It doesn’t take too long for his sheltered life to turn to dust and for him to see what the world is really like. When he loses everything, when the only thing he has left, the one thing he cares the most, his family, is threatened, he decides to fight back and in doing so, he starts uncovering secrets and truths that some people don’t want to be known. What he discovers during his struggle for survival can shake the foundations of the world and plunge it into chaos.

Chris Sarantopoulos author pic

Author Bio:

Chris Sarantopoulos is a Greek writer who learned to communicate in English almost at the same time he started using his native language. He studied Geology in Scotland (you may hear him say aye a couple of times), then decided to diversify and completed a Master’s degree in Service Management. He almost started a PhD, but that didn’t work out. He enjoys writing science fiction, particularly post-apocalyptic fiction and cyberpunk, but also dystopia, fantasy, high fantasy, dark fantasy, and horror (not the splatter type though). Currently, he lives in Greece, and if you happen to spend time there, contact him. He may be able to arrange a meeting.

His work has appeared on Beyond Imagination, Voluted Tales and Eternal Haunted Summer among others.

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