John Jennings Answers Eleven Cyberfunk Questions
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a Mississippi born black nerd who now resides in the dusty valley of Southern California. I am an award-winning best selling author and artist who’s best known for my collaborative work with Damian Duffy on two graphic novel adaptations of the great Octavia E. Butler’s work (Kindred, Parable of the Sower). I am a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California at Riverside where I teach courses on Afrofuturism and Aesthetics, Race and Horror, and the cultural impact of comics on society. I am also a publisher and editor of a new line of books dedicated to speculative fiction by and about people of color called ABRAMS MEGASCOPE.
2. What’s your favorite cyberpunk book/movie/anime?
My favorite cyberpunk book is SNOW CRASH by Neal Stephenson. My favorite cyberpunk movie is BLADE RUNNER and my favorite cyberpunk anime is THE ANIMATRIX.
3. What do you like most about Cyberpunk?
I love the fact that the “underdog” is the focus and that technology is the space where all are equal. I also like the fact that the the narratives are usually about tearing down boundaries and uniting against large controlling system. I also love the way it’s imagined. It’s almost in this time capsule of what people thought the future would be.
4. For you, what’s the difference between Cyberpunk and Cyberfunk?
I think the main thing is the focus on Afrocentric thought in Cyberfunk. The fact that black people survive, thrive and win..even under the most adverse conditions is very attractive. Also, I feel that despite the dystopian nature of the hard future, Cyberfunk’s main technology is the technology of hope.
5. What’s the title of your Cyberfunk story?
Flesh of My Flesh
6. Give a brief synopsis.
My story is set in a Southern-fried hard-boiled megacity called Neo Jackson. My space/ genre I work in is called CyberTRap. I think of it as a sub-genre of Cyberfunk that is focused on the lives of black Southern people trying to get ahead in a futuristic post-deluge grimy crime-ridden future Jackson, MS. It’s very much influenced by traditional Cyberpunk but has a dash of Trap culture with a lot of hot sauce and sweet tea. My main characters, The Jones Boys, are private investigators who get hired by the minister of a megachurch to root out some evil ways in The Trap.
7. What do you like/hate about your main character?
My main character is called Cleophus “Kudzu” Jones. I love him because he’s a survivor. He gets his nickname from being hard to kill. He also has a wisdom about him and a quick tongue for anyone who has the misfortune to cross his path.
8. Are we heading for a Cyberfunk/Cyberpunk future?
Not exactly, in my opinion. We’ve already passed 2019; the time of BLADE RUNNER and we have no replicants, flying cars, or Voight Kamf machines. There are dark days now and we will probably see more in the future but, the stylish future of Cyberfunk probably wont’ present itself so readily. It’ll be a slow fall into the future. Hopefully, we will have the foresight from these futuristic narratives to avoid some of the horrors we’ve seen in the genre.
9. Would you become a cyborg?
We’re already cyborgs! Every time we reach out onto the internet! We have so many identities and live so many lives through the web. We don’t have the metal parts but we are definitely enhanced by technology. Think of how lost you’d feel without your smartphone? We’re already post-human. We just don’t have the ports to jack into.
10. Could you love an A.I.?
11. How do we keep up with all things John Jennings?
You can find me on Facebook pretty readily. My Instagram is : johnjenningsart. My twitter is: JIJennings.
Read Flesh of My Flesh and 17 amazing stories in Cyberfunk! Preorder your book today. Release date; February 28, 2021