Cyberpunk

HomePage | Recent changes | View source | Discuss this page | Page history | Log in |

Printable version | Disclaimers | Privacy policy

A term derived from: Cyber(netics) + punk.

Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction. It describes the nihilistic, underground side of the digital society, which has started to evolve in the last two decades of the 20th century. Cyberpunk uses elements from noir detective fiction, Japanese anime, and post-modernist prose.

In cyberpunk literature much of the action takes place on-line, in cyberspace - the clear borderline between the real and the virtual becomes blurred. The worlds described are sinister, dark places with interlinked computers that dominate every aspect of life. Great corporations and corrupt, authocratic governments have absolute power. The Sisyphean battle against the centralised authority by disillusioned renegades is one of the main themes of the genre.

William Gibson with his novel Neuromancer (1984) is seen as one of the first and greatest cyberpunk writers, who emphasized style, character development and atmosphere over traditional science-fictional tropes (Neuromancer was awarded the Hugo, Nebula, and Philip K. Dick Awards). Others include Bruce Sterling (who functioned as cyberpunk's chief ideologue with his fanzine Cheap Truth), Rudy Rucker, Pat Cadigan, and Neal Stephenson.

The film Blade Runner and the short-lived television series Max Headroom also introduced many viewers to the genre.

Notable precursors to the genre are Philip K. Dick, Vernor Vinge (True Names and Other Dangers), John Brunner (The Shockwave Rider), Norman Spinrad (Bug Jack Barron), and K. W. Jeter (Dr. Adder).

A role-playing game called Cyberpunk exists. This game is set in the near future, in a world where cybernetics and computers are even more present than today. Corporate corruption is a frequent theme in this game's adventures. The characters often find themselves skirting the law, if not oughtright flouting it.

An unusual sub-sub-genre of cyberpunk is steampunk.

See also: Technocracy, Corporatocracy