Cyberpunk

So, we finally get to the subgenre I know the very least about. I have a few friends and acquaintances who are in love with it, but I honestly never got the bug.

The most important thing I have learned (the hard way) about Cyberpunk is: It is NOT Steampunk. The technology that is the main theme of Steampunk is steam-driven technology. The technology that is the main theme of Cyberpunk is computer technology and cybernetics.

Cyberpunk is usually set in the nearby future, but certainly does appear in far-future settings as well. Here and there cyberpunk even crosses the technology/magic boundary to include races like elves and dwarves and so on (Shadowrun, a role playing system and computer game).

Society is often run by large, heartless corporations (I immediately see Zorg Enterprises from The Fifth Element in my head). Computer technology and cybernetics is a source of power for the establishment  and, hence, the resistance often comprises of hackers and the like. Moral values and humane treatment of others are no longer the rule most live by.

Common features of this setting:

  • Bionic (i.e. electromechanical) and cybernetic limbs or other implants
  • Society has become dominated by computer technology and cybernetics
  • The protagonists are often part of a subversive anticulture
  • Human life has become as expendable as money
  • Post-apocalyptic setting
  • Robots (may) rule humans
  • Giant corporations rule society
  • Breakdown of moral values

Examples:

  • Ghost in the Shell (animé movie)
  • The Ship Who Sang – Anne McCaffrey
  • Battle Angel Alita (animé and manga)
  • The Matrix (movie and comic books) – though, apparently, it’s not considered Cyberpunk by all
  • Neuromancer – Tom de Haven and Bruce Jensen
  • Blade Runner (movie)

Honestly, just like any of the other subgenres I have discussed, there is much dispute about the true definition and true examples. I’d love some comments and discussions on this one.

Disclaimer:

Yes, yes, I know. But I don’t have any of the more “pure” cyberpunk stories out there in my collection just yet. I’ll fix it later if I can.

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