My reviews of Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology continue with “The Final Remake of The Return of Little Latin Larry With a Completely Remastered Soundtrack and the Original Audience,” a story by award-winning author Pat Cadigan that was originally published in Future Histories in 1997.
There are a couple of things about this story to make it unusual. For one thing, it’s delivered entirely in first-person as a one-sided conversation. The narrator is speaking to “us” (the audience), but in such a way that it sounds like some old guy in a bar telling stories (which is exactly what this is). The other unusual thing is that this story has no real characters apart from the narrator. There are experiences and encounters, but hardly anyone stands out as an individual. It’s more about the experience than the plot, really.
That said, the whole story is an attempt by the narrator to talk about the hip cyberpunk days of long ago, when immersing yourself in a recorded world of sensory data was the equivalent of going to the movies on Friday night. In his case, he was a producer who put together a remake of a previous sense-show based on a performance by a retro-music band called Little Latin Larry (actually the band’s name is as long as the title of the story, but let’s keep this simple). He describes how he was attempting yet another remake based on the genetic memories of people descended from the original band and audience members–and how mental illness can affect those genetic memories.
What makes this story post-cyberpunk is how the author treats a standard cyberpunk convention (i.e., recorded sensory data as entertainment) like a fad that was big decades ago. What previous authors extrapolated as being a route that the entertainment industry would inevitably take, she takes as being something they’ll adopt, but eventually move beyond as people seek out different forms of media. It’s actually fairly realistic when you consider how much the advent of film and television changed mass media, only to decline once the Internet came along. Pat Cadigan also captures the voice of someone reminiscing about the good old days, which hardly exists in cyberpunk lore.
I’ll admit that the point of this story can be a bit of a challenge to reach, but that’s only because the author does a great job in making the narrator sound real (and not straightforward like most prose). It’s a story that explores what cyberpunk authors thought would be the future and shows us what happens twenty years after the fact.
Bibliography: Cadigan, Pat. “The Final Remake of The Return of Little Latin Larry With a Completely Remastered Soundtrack and the Original Audience.” Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. Ed. James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2007.