Hello, Daddy. Hello, Mom. I'm your ch-ch-ch-ch... / by J.C. Hutchins

Watch your back, shoot straight, conserve ammo, and never, ever cut a deal with a dragon.
—Shadowrunner street proverb

I'm honored and delighted to announce that I'm a contributor to the Shadowrun Returns short story anthology, which will be published later this year by Harebrained Schemes and Catalyst Game Labs.

My story, titled Cherry Bomb, will accompany works from awesome writers (and veteran Shadowrun contributors) such as Michael A. Stackpole, Tom Dowd, Loren L. Coleman, Jason Hardy, Jennifer Brozek and Russell Zimmerman.

I've worked closely with my longtime collaborator — and Shadowrun creator — Jordan Weisman on this story. Fans of my work will recognize some of our past projects, including Personal Effects: Dark Art, Nanovor and the educational transmedia experience Edgar Allan Poe.

I also clocked in time with the anthology's managing editor John Helfers. My objective: To ensure that Cherry Bomb seamlessly and authentically integrated with the existing canon of the badass fantasy-cyberpunk world of Shadowrun ... and intertwined with the narrative seen in Shadowrun Returns, the upcoming video game from Weisman's company Harebrained Schemes.

I've been a fan of Shadowrun since the early 1990s, so this is literally a creative dream come true for me. I fondly recall poring over Shadowrun RPG sourcebooks and playing the Super Nintendo game back in the day. It was a genuine honor to slip into this world once more, this time not just as a consumer, but as a creator. The fact that Cherry Bomb is a canonical prequel to the highly-anticipated Shadowrun Returns game is cool beyond measure.

Last March, Weisman and his team launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund Shadowrun Returns. They had an ambitious fundraising goal of $400,000. Thirty days and more than 36,000 backers later, the campaign earned more than $1.8 million. Shadowrun is a beloved storyworld indeed.

The game — and a package that includes the Shadowrun Returns anthology, and my Cherry Bomb story — is available for pre-order at Harebrained Schemes' website.

If you're unfamiliar with Shadowrun, here's a quick 101, cribbed (and edited) from Wikipedia:

Shadowrun takes place several decades in the future. In 2011, once-mythological beings (such as dragons) appeared on Earth and old forms of magic suddenly re-emerged. Large numbers of humans mutated into orks and trolls, while human children began to be born as elves, dwarves, and even more exotic creatures.

In parallel with these magical developments, the setting's early 21st century features technological and social developments associated with cyberpunk science fiction. Megacorporations control the lives of their employees and command their own armies. Technology advances make cyberware (mechanical replacement body parts) and bioware (augmented vat-grown body parts implanted in place of natural organs) common.

When conflicts arise, corporations and other organizations subcontract their dirty work to specialists, who then perform "shadowruns." The most skilled of these specialists, called shadowrunners, have earned a reputation for getting the job done. They have developed a knack for staying alive, and prospering, in the dangerous world of Shadowrun.

By all appearances, the Shadowrun Returns video game (set in the 2050 era of the storyworld) has turned into something righteously cool. I've gabbed with Jordan a few times over the past year, as the game has been developed. He and his team are busting their humps to make this game something that lives up to player expectations — expectations that have been 20+ years in the making!

It's an unenviable task, but check out this "first look" Alpha gameplay footage, hosted by Weisman and Mitch Gitelman, Harebrained Schemes' studio manager and co-founder. I think they've nailed it.

Like I said, you can pre-order your copy of Shadowrun Returns today at the company's website. If you're keen to snag my story Cherry Bomb, be sure to pre-order the package that includes the illustrated anthology.

Oh, I guess you want to know what Cherry Bomb is about. It explores if two people from wildly different worlds can fall in love while working in an ultra-polluted, ultraviolent superslum. It's also about gunfire. And blood. And pathological lying.

But it's mostly about love. I promise.