Special Guest: Interview with Cyberpunk Author Norfy A.R. of Welcome to Autumnport

Greetings, cyberpunk lovers.

And Welcome to Autumnport… Where “You will exist as my toy in perpetuity – and you will like it!”

Well, not mine. You belong to the Duchess now.

And you will like it. You will love it!

I haven’t had this much fun with a cyberpunk book in… well, ever.

If you want to know what I’m talking about, you can check out my review of Act 1 in the fun, sexy cyberpunk romp through Norfy A.R.’s fantastic debut Welcome to Autumnport. Click here to read.

But today, I have an extra special treat, because we are sitting down with the Grand Duchess of Cyberpunk herself, Norfy A.R., to learn a little bit about how this world came about and what we can expect to see in the next acts.

Norfy and I connected in a Cyberpunk fan group and I have had an absolute blast getting to know her and her work. She’s easily one of the most brilliant indie authors I’ve had the pleasure to meet… perhaps a bit too brilliant… but if we must have a questionable moral character cracking the whip in our dystopian future, Norfy gets my vote!

Without further ado, let’s meet our new evil overlord!

Can you describe what Welcome to Autumnport is about? What themes are you exploring?


Without spoiling anything, Autumnport is basically my take on the Isekai-style of light novels, in which the main character is flung from Earth into another world bound to completely different laws of physics. The setting is delimited to the namesake metropolis, ruled by the evil cyborg demoness Duchess, and follows the exploits of Doctor Vortimer Lance as he plays a game of double agent to undermine her rule.

Superficially, Autumnport is the unholy combination of mad scientist characters, urban fantasy backdrops, and antics straight out of some Japanese dating simulator – which’ll hopefully make a fantastic lure to reel in new readers, that promise of a smutty romp through cyberland. Once I have my poor reader tangled up in the world, they will find that Autumnport, at its core, is a story about overcoming difficult emotions, breaking human limits, and of shaking apart the often self-imposed shackles that bind you to learned helplessness. The story really is just one big allegory for that.

Vortimer Lance

What is Doctor Lance like, and how did he become your protagonist?

Vortimer Lance is my handsome emoboi protagonist, a chaotic-neutral mad scientist afflicted with an Edgar Allen Poe-esque internal ennui. He is a superposition of all my own weaknesses and neuroses, a psychological test dummy to be flung into Autumnport on a personalized trial of character. The city is a proving ground from which champions are forged. Lance will either flounder in anxiety-ridden mediocrity as he submits to a reprehensible technocratic regime, or he will overcome the external and internal limits that bar his full potential and finally defeat the literal demons that haunt him.

To separate him from the typical isekai protagonist, I wrote him as a bisexual man with androgynous/gender-neutral mannerisms. Even still, he is inexplicably magnetized to attractive and highly unusual women – and sometimes men. It’s an adult book. I don’t set the rules.

The Duchess

Tell us about Duchess and how she came to be the antagonist.



Duchess is a Mary Sue turned on her head. She is an absurdly powerful egomaniac with universe-conquering ambitions – and with the technology and might to follow through on them. She is the manifestation of my own aspirational drives cranked up until the dial is snapped entirely. Unlike a proper Mary Sue, though, she is more-or-less resented and despised by the others in her world. She rules her human subjects with a kind of sinister science they can easily see through, a superficial meddling upon basic impulses {especially the sexual kind} that ignores the deeper need for spiritual fulfillment and self-actualization. She has cultivated Autumnport into this hedonistic dystopia of fornication and nihilism. It is a true hell that only gets scarier the deeper you consider it, and one that I think to be a clever remix of the standard cyberpunk dystopia.

Duchess is the ultimate tormentor for Lance. But, as the reader will realize, she too suffers from her own profound existentialism and identity issues. She maintains a SHODAN or Kerrigan inspired façade in the face of her subjects, but she is otherwise painfully aware of her status as a monster, and it’s not something she is always proud of.

She’s also an intersex lesbian woman, and is my best attempt at filling the void for powerful, interesting queer villains.

What drew you to cyberpunk as a genre? How does it complement your themes?

I like the neon-soaked aesthetic, but more than that I like that it’s a near-future backdrop dealing with social and technological topics more readily envisionable than those in, say, a space opera. It feels the most down-to-earth of the high-tech speculative fiction genres. Hardcore cyberpunk fans are certainly going to scoff at Autumnport as being blatantly impure to the genre, so I’m better off erring to say it’s an urban fantasy with a cyberpunk coat of paint, in much the same way Star Wars is a samurai fantasy with a space opera coat of paint.

DNA-440F Policy Enforcement Android

Welcome to Autumnport is a wonderful genre mashup. Where did you draw your inspirations from?



Autumnport is my love letter to all the speculative fiction media I’ve exposed myself to throughout my life, which encompasses far too many works to list off here, but which include books, movies, music, anime, and especially video games. Everything from System Shock, Black Butler, Akame ga Kill, Star Control II, Star Trek, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Monster Girl Quest {if you get that reference, shame on you}, and even prog rock bands like Rush, Genesis, and Devin Townsend can claim their fair share of credit for creative inspiration.

Ask me again on a different day of the week and I’ll give you an entirely different list.

Would you like to live in Autumnport?

With one caveat, yes. Autumnport by itself is my conception of a dream city. It’s a scientific utopia of unrestrained progress and a bastion of my aesthetic and epistemological values. For the sake of an interesting story, of course, I had to put an actual devil there to rule it and twist said values to suit her own mania. Think of how George Orwell, despite being a socialist himself, wrote a book to explore how his own beliefs may be misconstrued and exaggerated into a corrupted permutation.

Remove the megalomaniacal tyrant {or reserve the position specifically for myself, muhaha} and I’m totally on board.

Doctor Molly Eden

Who is your favourite character?

Gods, that’s a brutal question to answer; It’s hard to pick favorites among my brainchildren. As my readers could probably tell, I favor Duchess due to my personal disposition for lawful-evil big bads. She’s not nearly as fun to write as our friendly hacker dead_crow is, though, if only cause I just love reminiscing on my own ridiculous mannerisms as a teenager. Maxwell may seem like a generic, throwaway baddie for the time being, but I love him in my head ‘cause I’m so excited to flesh him out in future installments and hopefully make him into a fan favorite. Daphne is adorable, too; I love her inappropriate remarks, and the fact she’s a crooked subversion of the anime cliché of the cute, innocent loli companion by being a murderbot in disguise – and who viciously defends the MC rather than the other way around.

When did you start writing and why do you write?

Before Autumnport, I was writing a non-fiction book about the history of computer malware, cybercriminality, and the underground virus and cracker scene. The flip from non-fiction to fiction was motivated by a combination of boredom and a desire to allegorize my tough feelings into a fictional world that I have total control over. In a way, Autumnport started out as an outlet for my own power fantasies. It’s just so much fun to torment my poor characters with increasingly unlikely trials and tribulations. Supposing it just helps me to navigate my own difficulties in life after I’ve acted them out in a hyperbolic sandbox of sorts.

It’s also nice to take a break from fangirling over the intellectual property of others and take a stab at creating one of my own. I consider it my way of giving back to the genre that’s done so much to fill the voids in my life with wonder and discovery.

What drove you to publish this first book?



In all honesty, the most exciting part of publishing this first book was the chance to cultivate a community and a scene of my own. If anything were going to motivate me to continue writing, it would be for the reading pleasure of those who loved Act I and are eagerly looking forward to the next installment. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, but I also have starry-eyed thoughts of hosting a booth at some convention and getting to meet my readers in person and sign books and all that. I’m a fairly extroverted woman, so the social aspect of publishing the book and getting eyes on me and my work has easily been the biggest source of joy for me throughout all this.

What can we expect to see in Acts II and III?



Hoo boy, you’re in for a treat. You can expect gorgeous new additions to Lance’s harem, gorgeous new additions to his friendzone, and best of all, gorgeous new additions to his circle of enemies. We’ll further explore the backstory of Lance, Duchess, and various other characters, and expand upon various subplots and other themes that were {purposefully} handwaved away in Act I. Most exciting of all, you’ll see Lance grow his backbone at last and establish himself as a formidable contender against the bad guys. Hope you’re as excited as I am! I just need to put down my heavily modded copy of Stellaris long enough to actually write the damn thing down.

Discussion

I have been delighted to connect with Norfy since we first met in a Cyberpunk fan group earlier this year, and she’s easily the most interesting and intellectual cyberpunk creative know (and she’s got the comp. sci. chops to back her ideas up which is super cool, too!)

Have you read Welcome to Autumnport yet? What did you think?

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