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I’m here just to spread love and tell you to take as much time as you need to finish today’s page. Your work is amazing. Hope you’re ok. (sorry for my English if I misspelled something or bad sintax)

This is interesting and explains the more subtle points required to understand the setting. For instance, why it seems counter-culture is on the peak of cybernetics as opposed to the wealthy, or those with status.
In addition it opens new avenues of questioning; like how cybernetics is handled elsewhere in the world. Unylsk is hardly the cutting edge western metropolis we’d expect to be on the forefront of technology. So are they more or less advanced? What about politically? Just how far could a more advanced nation take the concept of Dreamspace with greater adoption and freedom of expression?
My only counter would be drugs, the availability of psychoactive substances to the operator population would be the edge needed to create the most advanced cyberspaces and become the most acclaimed neuromancers. With an environment like that, the opposition’s perspective becomes more transparent; the common enemy of drugs, poverty, violence, prostitution and other crime and decay. It would be no surprise this brave new frontier of the Dreamspace is more like Hell opening up under the city than the digital paradise it could (and was likely designed to) be.
So essentially, I’m really looking forward to how it all comes together and how Unylsk proves to be the epicenter of it all. Or maybe even just a speck on the map of an advancingly digitized world. Perhaps even the creators don’t know.

Those are actually things we’re hoping to elaborate on in future chapters. As we’ve framed it, the city of Unylsk is meant to be a slightly warped reflection of what a lot of ex-Soviet republics were going through in the ’90s; many made an aggressive push towards Westernization and capitalism, only to see those ambitions blow up and create political, economic, and social instability. Unylsk is dealing with its own “post-Western” hangover, which has left a lot of the technologies encouraged by the previous administration (VR included) in a dangerous limbo. However, other countries have a slightly healthier attitude in that regard, and from Chapter 2 onwards, we’ll start taking a look at how the rest of the world is getting on in this alterna-1995.
– Io

Nice to here more lore about the world this was set in! I was kind of expecting it just to go as a vague unnamed retrofuturistic dystopian place, however.

Yeah, part of that comes from the jump to long-form storytelling. Supporting an ongoing plot meant we had to flesh out the setting and develop at least a basic understanding of how the various pieces of the world interact with one another, even if that detail never came up in the story proper. “Wirepedia” is kind of a nice way to share some of that worldbuilding without bogging the comic down with massive infodumps.

At the same time, D&W/Dreamspace were never intended to be 100% generic cyberpunk dystopia – the look and feel of the comics has always been influenced to at least some degree by Claire’s upbringing in Russia/Latvia. In developing the setting, we made the decision to play up that angle a little more strongly, which also opened up a lot of interesting narrative opportunities.
– Io

Is vatnost and religion pretty much the only reasons cybernetics are hated outside of cities? I mean, even considering soviet union’s history of refusing to admit the viability of cybernetics, you’d expect people to have at least some trust in technology considering nobody opposed to any of the innovations introduced after the fall of USSR in the real world, even scaremongering about American HAARPs, mobile & microwave radiation and dislike of computers ruining the youth developed into something as big only later on.

So, is there some more history behind this divide? I noticed some of hardware is built in Stradanye, did some divisions regarding cybernetics pop up back during perestroika or even before, whether the cybertech-related industrialisation being the primary cause of Stradanye’s current ecological situation, or as a result of universe’s tech developing differently from ours and leading to some unorthodox consequences or soviet propaganda putting great effort to discredit the cybernetics before giving in to the western market?

It’s a combination of factors, but vatnost and religion certainly play an important role. The story goes something like this:

Immediately after Stradania became independent, there was an aggressive drive to become “more like the West” and toss as much of the Soviet model into the bin as possible – same story as many post-Soviet republics in the ’90s, really. Ambitious technocrats were elected into office with sweeping majorities, and the country was opened to both foreign investment and foreign technology.

As you’d expect, cybernetics and VR were a big part of that modernization drive. Supported by government subsidies, local businesses started buying up blueprints to older, foreign-made cybernetics so they could manufacture licensed knock-offs to meet domestic demand. Richer citizens, meanwhile, ponied up the import fees and flashed their Class A ‘ware like a Mercedes or Rolex. With ready access to implants, a subculture began to develop around the idea of “improving humanity”, heavily influenced by transhumanist ideas from countries.

But not everybody was excited about the possibilities cyberware had to offer. Among the less-educated, rumors persisted that cybernetic limbs had a mind of their own and could commit crimes without the owner’s knowledge. (And true or not, tabloids _loved_ reporting these kinds of stories.) The local Orthodox Church thundered that implants imperiled your immortal soul and damned you for all eternity. Psychologists warned that too much ‘ware led to a loss of “human essence” and might induce a state of full-blown cyber-psychosis. This stew of misinformation and fearmongering was especially well-received out in the rural areas of the country, where resentment over the country’s shiny new direction already ran high.

Then the economy went to shit. After pissing away untold billions on glitzy projects that were supposed to make Stradania “a world-leading cyber-nation”, but only got mired in graft and incompetence, the government was forced to make hard spending cuts just to keep the lights on. Almost simultaneously, the Stradanian stock exchange, where citizens had been encouraged to invest their savings (for a “brighter tomorrow!”), collapsed. Inflation surged, as did unemployment.

And as one would expect, people were pissed. They blamed the technocrats. They blamed the West – after all, hadn’t it been American “financial experts” who’d put together the doomed stock exchange? And all those people with the fancy foreign-made cyberlimbs who’d been happy to embrace the “new Stradania” (literally, for those who finally could replace their arms with full-functioning prostheses) made a highly convenient target.

– Io

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