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New Albion Explained: Is It Really An Atompunk Opera? -From The Geeky Athiest

06 Mar

The Geeky Athiest has put up a new New Albion Explained video where they posit whether the Atompunk Opera is really atompunk or cyberpunk. It’s an interesting question, one that i hadn’t realized would come up and it’s fascinating to hear their take on it.

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2 Comments

Posted by on March 6, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

2 responses to “New Albion Explained: Is It Really An Atompunk Opera? -From The Geeky Athiest

  1. JayKerschner

    March 7, 2017 at 5:20 am

    I see what he’s saying, but I’m not certain I fully agree.

    It’s true that some of the plot components (the portal, the AIs, etc.) are more cyberpunk in feel, as is the war-like setting of the second and third acts. It may be appropriate to call the album a mix of atompunk and cyberpunk in that regard.

    However, I feel like the setting of New Albion as it is presented in the album is firmly atompunk; it unfortunately isn’t explored too much, since only the first two acts take place in New Albion and the second act is a flashback which really focuses on a small sequence of events which doesn’t show the scope of the city.

    But the first act sets up a firmly atompunk setting. Perhaps this isn’t the right way to perceive the distinction, but when I hear “atompunk” I tend to think of a utopia, whereas “cyberpunk” evokes a dystopia. Both often focus on an underdog character living in the society (the “punk” component).

    In the AO, especially in the songs “New Albion 9”, “Rachael”, and “The Shopogopolis”. The last of these is the best look we get at the city in this era, and it sure sounds like its people are, for the most part, living happy lives. There’s the occasional few like Rachael (the outcasts of society… and therefore, the undesirables who don’t fit into the utopia) who aren’t so well off, and there’s a decent chance that much of society might be brainwashed into complacency… but as far as I can tell, there’s not really much bad actually happening in the city. People in the AO era are happy, and that’s not what a cyberpunk setting looks like. Mentions of there being a “city council” who seems to be able to control the corporations also seems to reinforce an atompunk setting; in a cyberpunk setting, the corporations would surely be the ones in control of the government, rather than the other way around.

    Another thought: Rachael’s situation at the start of the album is a curious one. She’s basically in a prison, but it is called “Miss Idle’s Home for Orphaned Girls”. The name alone makes me think less of the brooding darkness of a cyberpunk setting, and more of a… “forced refuge”. Like, a clean psych ward sort of thing rather than a prison with cells. Granted, Rachael is “crazy” (due to Lee’s song), but most of the people who are kept at Miss Idle’s probably aren’t… they’re just orphans. Orphans who, in an atompunk society, don’t fit into the norm… they’re not part of the “atomic family” which was such a common theme in the postnuclear era. At atompunk utopia has no space for people who don’t fit that sort of mold. By contrast, in cyberpunk, I’d expect to see many loners and many broken families as the norm, and the prisons would be dark places which would hold potential usurpers rather than people who just aren’t quite normal. From what I’ve seen of cyberpunk, such settings often don’t have a “normal” the way an atompunk setting does.

    To me, AO-era New Albion reflects the idyllic vision of the future which media in the 60s portrayed. I’m honestly not too familiar with the era, but some of the imagery which comes to mind is reminiscent of the Jetsons… everything is clean, swooping designs, and despite some day-to-day troubles, people are happy. That’s also where the music comes from. In the video, the Geeky Atheist comments on how the music of the AO is more synthesizer heavy, compared to what one might expect of 40s or 50s stylings… and that’s because, it reflects that idyllic, technological paradise which the media of the era espoused, rather than reflecting the era itself. Tim Morgan treks the galaxy, and all that.

    There are enough hints of cyberpunk stylings that I can see the argument for the album’s plot being a more cyberpunk one, especially given some of the technology in the third and fourth acts. In fact, I could see a Cyberpunk Opera being a natural evolution of the story, if it were to be continued. But New Albion, the city, as it stands during the AO is firmly atompunk in nature… it’s just not thoroughly explored in the album, so it’s reasonably easy to get the two “punk” styles conflated.

     
    • Phoenix Bryant (@PhoenixVox)

      March 19, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      Not only do I second everything you’re saying, I also would like to add that, thematically, while the concept of “analogue consciousness” does feel very cyberpunk, it takes a back seat (both in the opera and in the goals of Arcadia Corp) to the journey to Elysium. The idea of an “out there” where the hope for the future lies is 100% pure atompunk. In cyberpunk, transcendence is found in what it fundamentally means to be human. In atompunk, transcendence is less of a state of being and more of a place. Space, in classic 60s retro-futurism. Elysium, in The New Albion Guide to Analogue Consciousness.

      Also, the feel of the music to me is a little too “chunky” to be cyberpunk. It reminds me of visiting Tommorowland in the Magic Kingdom at Disney World, that beautifully idealistic retro-futuristic feel. It’s not quite the same kind of thing as, say, Fallout, but then, Fallout is not the end-all-and-be-all of atompunk! In fact, since it’s post-apocalyptic, it’s basically doing its own thing, distinct from classic atompunk. To me, cyberpunk is more like walking in to your local Apple store! We’re very much already living in a cyberpunk dystopia.

       

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