City descriptions in a Cyberpunk world?

Penny

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Hey all, trying to come up with a good way of describing what my character sees out her apartment in a vast cyberpunk world.
I am envisioning large conglomerative blocks of buildings, a mixture of skyscrapers, city blocks, shanty like buildings. I have no idea what I should all them, the internals are like an apartment block, lots of corridors rooms and so on, graffiti and such.

This kind of structure would from the outside appear like a mound of buildings, and the city is made up of many such structures with valleys and canyons between where hovercars and other fliers cruise past or sit in gridlock.

Out my characters window Im picturing a long valley between such structures which stretches off into the distance in either direction.

but I'm having difficulty figuring out what I might call them as they are not standard city blocks nor are they individual skyscrapers. They would have a base that is kind of regular but turn into a wierd mishmash on top like someone built ordered city blocks and then said anyone could build whatever they wanted on top.

Conglomeration aaalmost fits but I think people in the cyberpunk world would give them a name. any help would be reaaaaly cool.
 

reiver33

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How about 'The Mash' - as in 'mishmash', given you have a secondary population who live in a shanty town which has sprouted, like fungus, on the core of the old city. Only the corporate archologies stand alone; austere, pristine geometric forms - irresistible targets for graffiti taggers, even if the telepresence drone had now replaced the spray can...
 

Brian G Turner

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The big tip is to try and avoid being objective and instead use emotional cues, where possible. That means you can relate to the landscape via the character and what it means to them - which IMO will have more impact on drawing in the reader than a purely objective one. Remember: the unique advantage of a novel over film is that you can get inside the thoughts and emotions of characters, and the more you can use it, the better IMO. :)
 

Penny

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*main character gets all emotional over light poles due to tragic backstory?*
 

Brian G Turner

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I just meant flavour something of the character thoughts and feelings in to give it more depth. Are the buildings imposing, inviting, gloomy, exciting, etc? When the character looks out their window do they see a place where they've struggled to survive common dangers, or a place of concrete warrens they've grown up comfortable with?

I may be off tangent here, though. :)
 

Penny

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Not entirely, you just gave me a good idea, If i look at animal habitat names there are more nifty words to pilfer.
Mash sounds like food not a building :<

And yeah at the moment, its early in the morning with light shafts passing through the high buiildings behind her so im describing what the character sees as being cold and stark, at least for now. she has to get to work in like 20 mins, has just used the last of her coffee and is slurping on instant noodles so she might be in a bit of a mood :p

edit -
aannnd gerbilarium is apparently a thing o.o
 
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CTRandall

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I pretty mich agree with Brian. The first thing that popped into my mind was a set of questions: is it beautiful? nightmarish? depressing? impressive? full of life? full of desperation?

These aren't mutually exclusive and a single character can see the world in different ways at different times. Infusing your cityscape with the sights, smells and sounds of life is what will make it come alive.
 

Lumens

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I also agree with Brian. I am currently writing a story set in a large futuristic city, and use every chance I get to infuse something about it. A little goes a long way, especially when appropriate to the story. You are exploring a world in your imagination, and making it come alive through the senses of your characters. Happy writing.
 

janeoreilly

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In Ready Player One everyone lives in piled up caravans and they're called the stacks, so you can go with appearance/shape - such as with some of the buildings in London like the gherkin and the cheese grater. The way you described it made me think of a mushroom. If it's the informal name that everyone uses then as has been said, it can reflect how people feel about it - positive/negative etc. It doesn't have to be complicated.
 

Penny

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mmm, currently going with Urbstacks, idea being they are a condensed suburb built up into a stack like structure, I like the mushroom idea, I like the idea of describing the buildings growing like a fungus or mould.
 

tinkerdan

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First it could be anything you decide it is.
My questions would be:
What are the characters used to--ie: are they stuck in this from the beginning or do they know what cities should look like?
What have they seen to which they could compare to in relationship to how it is envisioned?
Could it look like a lego city to them?
Could it look like a modular city?
Could it look like a cancer that's metastasized across the foundation of what once was a city; and once again from where are they making their comparison of cities.
Is the city alive and could this be a carcinogen city.
 

Penny

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The main character has lived in similar cities their whole life, some more organised and some worse. I am going with a vast chaotic concrete steel jungle, shanties and slums growing like fungus off the sides of once clean and gleaming skyscrapers, the buildings squished together and connected by precarious hanging walkways, rusted ducts and pipes crawl across once clean and shining windows.
A once pristine planned city now un-managed and growing organically while it decays with mismanagement and lack of regulation. With no one maintaining the system, those who live within the Urbstacks use their own skills and money to maintain its systems, building and expanding as needed often dangerously.


referring to the decay and change that has been wrought by showing that what remains of the past is still showing in places is how I am going about it, the organic references help. the stuff about mismanagement and stuff is all about showing the chaotic nature of things.
 
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Toby Frost

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I suppose that what the character thinks about living in the city will affect the way in which it’s presented to the reader. If this is normal life for him, then it might be difficult to portray how weird and bad it is to the reader. Maybe something like: “No water came out of the taps. That meant that the company had turned the power off again, which meant that he’d have to check the buckets on the roof. And if there was no power, he’d be using the stairs to get there. He decided to drop in on Jim on the way: Jim couldn’t manage the stairs any more, and if he brought back some water for him, Jim might cut him a better deal on the chems.” Or something like that.

It’s probably worth looking at William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, especially Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, which have a wide range of characters in cyberpunk cities.
 

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