No Happy Endings In Night City. We’ve Talked With The Writer of Cyberpunk 2077: No Coincidence

Cyberpunk 2077 is back in the game. After all the patches, the Phantom Liberty expansion and Netflix anime Edgerunners, this universe has recently had one more addition, the book No Coincidence by Rafal Kosik. We’ve talked to the author of this novel.

science fiction
Hubert Sosnowski19 November 2023

Cyberpunk 2077 caused a storm, but not quite the one that the developers from CD Projekt RED had hoped for. Nevertheless, the game was popular and sold well, delivering an unforgettable story. Finally, after all the patches and the Phantom Liberty expansion release, it's complete. RED's shares may not be staggering with prices anymore, but for the game itself, the story ended well. Rough, but good. Glory regained. A rare thing in Night City.

Among other things, I talked about this with Rafal Kosik, the co-screenwriter of Cyberpunk 2077: Edgerunners and the author of the recently published novel from the Universe – No Coincidence. We met at the Paradox Cafe in Warsaw, a popular spot among geeks. Surrounded by books and artifacts related to all kinds of fantasy, we talked about the world of Cyberpunk 2077, including movies, books, and series, but also about the future and, to some extent, about AI.

Rafal Kosik is the founder of the Powergraph publishing house. He has written many books – the Felix Net and Nika series, the Amelia and Kuba series, as well as single novels (Mars, Vertical, Kameleon, Rozaniec). He wrote for many major Polish magazines and claimed numerous prestigious awards.

Hubert Sosnowski: Does Night City scare or fascinate you more?

Rafal Kosik: Both. Without the terror, it wouldn't be fascinating, and we do enjoy being scared, but in a safe manner. That's why we enjoy reading fantasy, especially for entertainment.

Since we like to be scared, would you find yourself fitting in this city?

You're not the first person to ask about that – such a question is simply implied. I usually respond by pointing out that there are still much worse places in the real world, such as war-ravaged places like Ukraine. If necessary, it could be done, but that doesn't mean I would like to.

If you really had to – then who would you be? Corpo, street kid, or nomad?

I think the safest spot is at the mid-level manager of a corporation. Nobody really wants to oust you, and your situation is fairly stable.

For a while, at least.

Yeah, for a while. I have a buddy who works in a state-owned corp, where he’s quite well off. He strongly resists promotion because, after every election, when the ruling party changes, everyone above gets fired.

Is such balancing in the middle – whether in Night City or in reality – the only chance for a good ending? Is it even possible to get a good ending in Night City?

The concept of constructing this world is such that there are no happy endings, but it seems to me that you can still be a skilled professional. Someone who doesn't annoy others too much. Perhaps being a ripperdoc is a profession which lets you survive. Of course, it carries a risk because it's often operating outside the law, but as long as everything is done sensibly, it's one of the best jobs. You just need to know how to do it correctly. Just like real-life doctors.

In the case of Night City, is this a result of technology, society, or crime? When you cross a certain line, do you always have to pay?

Yes, it's a world that’s corrupted at every possible level, governed by cruelty. The basic rule is that if you stick your neck out, you'll be gone in a moment. The only thing that somehow saves the situation is people, but reality exerts such pressure on individuals that humanism subsides.

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Cyberpunk 2077: Edgerunners, Netflix 2022

Which part of Cyberpunk 2077’s narrative structure excites you the most? Biology, technology, or the combination of these?

The whole difficulty with Cyberpunk 2077: No Coincidence was that the title just said “Cyberpunk 2077;” that world was already created, so I couldn't modify it. I had to act according to the rules, so I focused on the fate of the people who live in this world. I usually do things differently – I spend a lot of energy on developing the rules governing the universe. Here, the rules were made.

So, how did working with a pre-defined world look like? How many limitations did you face? Was it a tiring, or rather interesting challenge?

Both. You know, I recently realized why I don't like writing historical novels. They require a lot of research before you even start writing. When creating SF, I still have a lot of research to do, but I do it on ongoing bases, while writing, when I don't know something, or when the plot takes an unexpected turn. Writing in an already established world is akin to writing a historical novel because you cannot alter the reality.

All in all, it was challenging indeed; it turned out many times that it was impossible to do something because, in this specific world, things didn’t work that way. When I had to describe a device that somehow functioned and looked in the game, nobody could explain how it really worked. There's something there and there are lights on it. No one wondered what it was supposed to do. I had to analyze such things many times.

Moreover, I often had to name such objects. These are simply there and we only know what they look like. Many times, I have had to delete some fragments because I couldn't direct the action the way I wanted, or because I needed to conduct more research. How to reach the intended goal? How do you make devices consistent with the available technology? The cooperation with CD Projekt went very well, they accepted the initial plan and said that I could basically do whatever I wanted as long as I didn't kill any character that appeared in the game nor changed the rules governing the world.

After consultations, we have decided to minimize the presence of characters from Cyberpunk 2077. They appear for a moment, with one exception – of Dum Dum, the Maelstrom gangoon. He has a role to play in this novel. The remaining characters from the game appear in the background because I can't change their fate. For instance, the Phantom Liberty expansion has just been released, developed simultaneously with the novel. We didn't even try to synchronize because it wouldn't make any sense. The resulting stories go side by side.

What was first? Did CDPR come to you asking for an idea, or did they come with their own concept?

I was invited to write scripts for games many times, also before Cyberpunk. I immediately decided that I wouldn't be good at this. However, the cooperation finally came to fruition, and it happened on the occasion of the script for the Edgerunners series. Cyberpunk 2077 was well received despite its initial troubles, so CD Projekt concluded that it was worth expanding this universe. They stated that firstly, I knew this world because I worked on the script for the series. Secondly, my novels, to a lesser or greater extent, touch on the cyberpunk genre. Additionally, I also write for teenagers. I didn't make up my mind about it right away, I saw a danger in the fact that it's a pre-existing world and I would have to create in areas that someone else had already come up with. But it turned out to be possible after all. I presented some initial, loose ideas. One of them appealed to me very much.

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Cyberpunk 2077: Edgerunners, Netflix 2022

They allowed you to introduce innovations into the world that weren't there, technologies, elements of lore?

I added small details, something I had used before – for instance, neologisms. This is seemingly nothing new, but they are interesting additions. When a netrunner remotely hacks something, you can watch their actions, but there’s an issue with the terminology used to describe it. Therefore, I have introduced a few words to enhance this setting. I threw in a few more ideas that don't go against the rules of this universe. For instance, implants enabling quasi-telepathic communication, which Maelstrom uses. The developers of the next installment of the game can use this. I will be even happier.

So, these ideas may end up as canon in Cyberpunk 2077.


I'm eagerly anticipating these ideas being implemented in the game.

Probably in the continuation. (laughter)

And what don't you like about writing scripts for games?

This isn't my format. Besides, I already know how to write scripts for movies and TV series. These are corrections of corrections. It's also about teamwork. Everyone has an idea. It's not that everyone always agrees with everyone else. In such situations, there’s a great oversupply of good ideas that end up in the bin just because they didn't fit someone else's vision. It's frustrating. Writing a section of the game will take me the same amount of time as writing a novel, and in the end, nobody will even know who wrote it.

You just switched to another interesting topic. It's hard to find information that you wrote Edgerunners. I didn't see you in the credits...

I'm there, but not at the beginning, with the screenwriters and creators. I appear at the end.

My bad. What exactly was your involvement in the creation of Edgerunners?

Participation in the creation process applies to all film scripts. The entire team is working on it, and the director is also eager to join because there is money involved, and it will be a valuable addition to the portfolio. The dialogues are written by someone else, sometimes they’re even mentioned separately in the credits. Then someone else revises it all.

Scenarios are created in subsequent iterations. The first one is rarely even released without revisions. It operates on the principle that perhaps the next version will be an improvement, so let's rewrite it once more. This is also how you make doubles of quality scenes. Just in case, if it turns out that we missed something – and besides, it can always come out better after all. The script is rewritten many times, and those who rewrite it also change. The goal is to approach the topic from a different perspective.

At this particular stage of work, Katarzyna Sienkiewicz-Kosik, (co-manager of the Powergraph publishing house – ed. note) joined us. To prevent things from becoming too easy, the authors from Studio Trigger still corrected us.

To better fit the anime convention?

Yeah, because I didn't write it as an anime, but as a regular show.

And how much of your original vision was preserved in the final version?

That's another thing that makes me dislike working in a team because... I’m not sure. You can't tell whose idea is whose. We were constantly collaborating with the creative team, mainly Bartosz Sztybor and Rafal Jaki. Especially at the first stage. It's like brainstorming – they threw out some ideas, we reworked them, and then it was no longer clear who came up with what.

When I watched Edgerunners, there were a few moments where I was absolutely certain that it was my idea. Most of the time, I found myself thinking, "Maybe I wrote this, or perhaps someone inspired me, or maybe I inspired someone and they adapted it." It's hard to say.

It seems a network of interconnected vessels, reaching a point where deciphering it can become tiresome.

Yes. I believe that a significant portion of the arguments regarding the contributions made to a particular project arises from a lack of understanding. This is usually impossible to tell. We know for sure that the main person who oversaw everything was Bartek Sztybor.

Okay, we already have both of your accomplishments in the Cyberpunk 2077 universe on the table. I noticed that No Coincidence is much more pessimistic than Edgerunners. In the series, even though so many characters died, the protagonists had the strength and ability to resist until the very end and this resistance was somewhat rewarded.

No Coincidence, on the other hand, from page to page takes away all hope, especially at the end. I get the impression that you have intensified the grip on the characters in the novel.

In adult novels, I am quite pessimistic. I infuse my novels for a younger audience with more optimism. Felix Net and Nika are a little more optimistic, and Amelia and Kuba – even more so. I don't know, maybe I just have limited optimism.

When you have such a hopeless world, and you describe people in such an environment, it's natural for things to turn out ugly. I know, this goes against the current trends in literature. Now comfort books are selling. And this is something I cannot even bear to read. No one is bad; everything is good, and it ends with a happily ever after. Even if something completely failed along the way, everyone is still happy. And this is probably necessary when everyone around is scared by threats real and imagined. Escapism must be positive.

Neither Edgerunners nor No Coincidence are comfort food, are they?

They aren't.

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Cyberpunk 2077: Edgerunners, Netflix 2022

But! I noticed a spark of hope in both of these works and in the game. This is a very similar motif. Both V, at least two of the protagonists of No Coincidence, and David from Edgerunners all have one thing in common. They are more resistant to cyberpsychosis. Is this simply a narrative rule for the "chosen one" of a given story in Cyberpunk 2077, or is there some deeper meaning behind it, a specific plot motif that may emerge as a separate thread someday?

There is such a rule. When talking about Felix Net and Nika, people asked me what was going on because normal teenagers don't experience such adventures. The answer is simple: Who would want to read about regular teenagers? In order to present the world in an interesting way, you must select captivating characters who are more than just random individuals.

Even if you wanted to create a story about a corporate CEO, it wouldn't be an interesting tale because the individual spends the majority of his time waking up early, going to work, working, coming back home, and indulging in some entertainment in the evening. Every now and then, something exciting happens to them. You need to choose a character who’s engaging right from the start, then ramp up both him and the action. That's the whole secret.

Seems a simple mechanism. But in this particular case, can it add up to a single story? Notice that the pattern is always the same. Someone is always watching this "upgraded" character in Cyberpunk 2077 from behind the corner – and it isn't fully explained in the game, the show, nor the book.

I can only say that conspiracy theories and a narrator who knows much more than the protagonist are always in demand.

Very well! [laughter] Since we're talking about the game... I know you played Cyberpunk 2077 as part of your research. Did it help you flesh out the ideas and take control of this world, or did it limit you?

I played Cyberpunk long before it launched, and it was the same with Phantom Liberty. It wasn't about testing the game or completing missions; it was just about getting the feel. Even then, while writing, I played a bit, but it wasn't very enjoyable because I wasn't completing these multi-hour missions. Instead, I was just wandering around and checking what could be done and what couldn't be done for some reason or other. It was a bit like watching a movie while having to edit it at the same time. You're not doing this for pleasure; you're watching it multiple times to determine which version of the scene will look better in the movie.

The process is exactly the same when writing a book. I also have to read it, and not just once. I'm quickly starting to get sick of the story. In the case of the game, it was something like this: I had to write a story within the world, so I explored it by walking around, observing how it functioned, and attempting to engage in interactions that weren't necessarily planned in the scenario. This was done to see what would happen in different situations. Everything ended when they shut down my Google Stadia.

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Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt RED 2020

If you had the chance, would you finish the game? Did you get hooked?

Yes, I would definitely finish it. You know, I always liked the retro atmosphere of games like Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, or Quake 2.

They later changed the nature of this ID Software series.

Yes, I enjoy the game atmosphere where you have to guess certain things. It's refreshing that not everything is so perfect and obvious. And I found exactly that in Cyberpunk 2077. That's why I'm wondering if I should purchase a service similar to Stadia because I still don't have a computer that could manage the game, and I'm thinking about whether I should finish it now.

This is probably the best moment, because you already have the complete experience. And to what extent were you familiar with the plot of Cyberpunk 2077?

I am familiar with the process of creating game scripts, which has led me to realize that the notion of having choices in games can be somewhat illusory. Regardless of the actions you take, there are predetermined points that must be reached, and certain events are meant to occur. Unfortunately, if you've written several scripts, read and analyzed them, you see that there’s no freedom of choice there. There are only a few paths that lead you to one point. Changing these realities is probably a task for the next generation of game developers.

However, the plot of Cyberpunk 2077 is quite nice. The concept of carrying out missions step by step has always been present in games, and it didn't really bother me until I witnessed how it actually functions. However, I can turn a blind eye to it.

As long as you don't have to create it.

This is another argument for why I wouldn't want to develop games. The developer must create an illusion and anticipate branching story, which isn't real at the end of the day.

I get it. Tell me, all these thoughts about games, scripts, and experiences from the series – did it have any part in the process of writing No Coincidence? This novel is very American in terms of plot construction, after all.

I don't have a specific method here, I did it by intuition. I just assumed that I was writing a novel for the American reader. I didn't create a checklist of criteria that an American novel must fulfill. Some time ago, there was a not-very-smart Polish movie, most likely a comedy, that began with the caption "American film production company presents." I really liked that.

In the back of my mind, I knew this was supposed to be a novel for an American reader. And that's how it turned out.

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Cyberpunk 2077, CD Projekt RED 2020

Speaking of readers and cyberpunk novels: after Gibson and Dick's Blade Runner, is this literature past its best, or does it still have something to show?

It depends on how you consider it. If you consider cyberpunk as an esthetic, the matter becomes more complicated. I had a Blade Runner vibe in my head and with No Coincidence, I tried to avoid it, just like the game did. Most of the scenes take place at night. In Cyberpunk 2077 it's the other way around. So, if we leave the spirit of the genre, everything is as current as possible. You know, I recently realized that writers of non-sf literature don't seem to understand that it's impossible to realistically describe our future without cyberpunk because we are literally merging with technology.

If you are describing a person fused with technology, elements of cyberpunk must come to the surface. Otherwise, it will present an inaccurate depiction of the world. If you take the staffage, the aesthetics of cyberpunk, then it's retro fantasy. However, if you embrace the spirit of cyberpunk and incorporate the scientific and technological elements, your work will be as relevant as it can be. The next novel I write will most likely also be cyberpunk to some degree.

Can you say something more about it?

I still haven't sorted it out in my head. Since I finished No Coincidence, I've written four novels, most of which are more or less cyberpunk. I took a break from long, adult forms. Furthermore, I am currently working on another volume in the series featuring Amelia and Kuba, and it deviates entirely from the fantasy and cyberpunk genres. I'm doing this to refresh my mind after an adventure with No Coincidence.

So do you have any plans for the near future when it comes to writing?

I have too many plans, and not enough time.

I empathize. Are you going to come back to Cyberpunk 2077?

At the very beginning, it was supposed to be a complete series. It's just that writing No Coincidence took me two years with breaks and corrections. I predicted that it would take this long.

You only live once.

Yes. It would be a nice chance to enter the global market, for sure, but I value my independence. I don't completely exclude a return if such an idea arises. For the time being, though, I am engaged in something completely different.

Does it have anything to do with the film and TV show? Edgerunners wasn't your first foray into the film world.

I have several film projects in my back catalog. The problem with them is that they drag on for years. The first is a completely non-fantastic, slice-of-life film. There’s a producer, and I can't really say anything more. I sign some additional contracts for an option – it's a kind of "reservation" of the script, so that no one else takes it. This doesn't mean that the project is entering production. The standard procedure is that first, you sign the "option," then you do the so-called development, and then you buy the script. I have several film projects that are at various stages of progress. None of them are in production at the moment.

I see that the situation can change any minute. Has what you did with Edgerunners, and earlier with Felix Neta and Nica, somehow influenced your current stance?

More experience always comes in handy. I attended several international screenplay workshops, where scripts were created. One has reached the development stage. It turned out that, due to high costs of special effects, no one would be able to bear the costs. If it weren't for these effects, the film would have been made. So maybe the chances of making a slice-of-life film are better. I have one Felix under my belt, although I made it when I couldn't write screenplays yet, which is a bit of bad luck.

After years of working in the book and film industries, I have noticed that similar rules apply in both: you have to work on multiple projects at once. At least one of them will be successful. However, you can't just sit and wait to see what will happen with a single idea. Someone calculated that in the film industry, one in twenty scripts that reach the development stage are actually produced.

However, you have already made an impact, you have a starting point.

It's always something. I definitely prefer writing novels rather than scripts. Thanks to that, I have more freedom. I don't have to rewrite books a dozen times.

So, what are the novel's chances of survival in this quasi-cyberpunk world that we observe outside the window?

Today, AI cannot write good literature, more complex stories. However, it could probably create simpler novels, and then the editors would work on top of them. I was reading predictions about the singularity moment, which is the point at which technology will surpas human intelligence. I don't know how this can be verified, but it is expected to come in 2025. It's unknown what will happen next. However, there’s a possibility that the novel will endure in its present form, much like the theater has. The theater is doing well, despite the emergence of cinema, television, and streaming.

Will it be the survival of the fittest and richest?

I think so.

Will it be the same with the scripts?

One of the reasons for the strike by screenwriters in the US was the fear that AI would take away their jobs. Writing scripts is a bit of an algorithm job, but one that is driven manually by humans.

And with the writing rules of Hollywood.

Yes. Every Hollywood film genre has its algorithms, which – whether you like it to or not – you have to fit. The screenwriter has to write the script according to the textbook, because otherwise the industry won't have it.

So, it seems that AI could easily handle this. It will just have to be polished well. Novels are more complex because they don't have a uniform structure like scripts. The fun is not about creating this structure. The question is, how long will such a stae of affairs last. Until the AI starts inventing new ways of writing novels? It can indeed turn out to be more creative than a human. However, the main concern is that the AI will do it at a much faster pace. So, maybe it can make a thousand attempts until one of them proves to be superior to human.

Let's hope that this doesn't happen in our lifetime.

Let's hope so.

Hubert Sosnowski

Hubert Sosnowski

Editor-In-Chief of Enamored with racoons, cars and thrash metal, a man sentenced to the keyboard. He learned to write articles while working for the Dzika Banda (The Wild Bunch) website. His texts were published on,,, and in the Polish edition of Playboy. In 2017, he joined as an author of texts about games and movies. He is currently the head of the film department and the portal. He lives for "middle cinema" and meaty entertainment, but he won't refuse experiments or "Fast and Furious." Graduated in cultural studies at the University of Białystok. Had his head blown by Todd McFarlane, David Fincher, Paul Verhoeven, Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Don Winslow and J. Michael Straczynski. He has published stories in the Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror monthly and in the first volume of the Wolsung Anthology. Someday, he will finish a book, for real! In a deep need for Dodge Charger or BMW e39 M5.

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