About Cyberpunk 2077: No Coincidence
This electrifying novel set in the world of Cyberpunk 2077 follows a group of strangers as they discover that the dangers of Night City are all too real.
In neon-drenched Night City, a ragtag group of strangers have just pulled off a daring heist on a Militech convoy transporting a mysterious container. What do each of them have in common? Good, old-fashioned blackmail. Forced to do the job, they have no idea how far their employer’s reach goes, nor what mysterious object the container holds.
The newly-formed gang – consisting of a veteran turned renegade, a Militech sleeper agent, an amateur netrunner, a corporate negotiator, a ripperdoc and a techie – must overcome their differences and work together lest their secrets come to light before they can pull off the next deadly heist.
CYBERPUNK 2077: NO COINCIDENCE is the first novel set in the world of Mike Pondsmith’s Cyberpunk setting. As a huge fan of the tabletop game, I always dreamed of writing my own entry into the dystopian world of Night City and was disappointed there never seemed to be any urge to do as TSR did to create novels set in the world. This has finally changed with the entry by Rafal Kosik. But can anyone truly capture the garish colors of a hyper-stylized city that is otherwise painted in black as well as red? Well, yes, this book does.
This is a heist book, first and foremost, with a focus on a crew rather than an individual protagonist like V in Cyberpunk 2077. This is probably the best way to experience Night City and one of the failures of the video game since, for the most part, you operate solo with the rare exception of the Relic heist in the first Act of the game. The characters are archetypal but not necessarily stereotypical and the way they bounce off one another reminds me of how quite a few of my Cyberpunk parties were not terribly social with one another. The best of Night City’s gangs are Chooms for life, but these are rare as an honest corpo.
Basically, there’s a former member of the NUSAA (New United States Army), a stripper with a child needing a vital operation to cure her disability (which is not something that one can survive with in Night City), a middle-aged woman who has a lot of money but no thrills, a hacker (sorry, netrunner) who still lives with his mother, a borged out hedonist, and a ripper doc who just wants to upgrade his clientele to sleazy versus ultra sleazy.
This book is a curious mixture of deep characterization and incredibly tense action that doesn’t always completely jive together. A lot of books which open with a huge epic gunfight set the readers to believing that this will be a fast-paced quick read. Instead, this is one of those books you should take the time to savor and soak in the atmosphere. A lot of attention is made to how soul-crushing Zor’s job at demolition is, how slimy Aya finds her job as a stripper (while noting other people don’t seem to mind it), and how even a talented lover is boring when Melina has no emotional connection to the guy whatsoever.
There are some scenes that I felt were a little too stereotypical. Aya turning to stripping and crime because of her sick child before being rescued from an unruly customer by Zor is something that feels a bit too on the nose but doesn’t distract too much from the way Night City is portrayed. Rafal Kosik manages to get the hyper-stylized nature of cyberpunk. There are fantastic toys everywhere but everyone is as miserable as before because they’re only for those people who can afford them. Indeed, people are poorer than ever because the people who make said toys have continued to squeeze a populace that’s apathetic to their own misery.
I also appreciate how unsympathetic our protagonists are while simultaneously being very relatable. Aya is aware that when she kills people on her Edgerunner missions, they’re effectively innocents and she’s doing it for money rather than any cause. There’s no Johnny Silverhand, “Fight the Power!” motivation. She and Zor are the least scummy of their group but they’re not blind to the fact being an Edgerunner means you’re a killer for hire. The only difference between them and the psychopathic heroes of Grand Theft Auto is the possibility of cybernetic upgrades.
I’m a big fan of the Expanded Universe that CD_Projekt Red has been creating for some time now. I think this is the one with the most artistic merit (and a lot of them are fantastic). This is a hard-R rating grimdark sort of story and all the better for it. You just know things are going to go to hell before they get better (if they ever do). Still, don’t rush this read. You need to soak in the rainy alleys and smell of garbage before the guy next to you is gunned down in an explosion of blood under a neon sign.