Monday, January 14, 2013

Introduction to Cyberpunk

Photo by D3ATHW01F6 on stock.xchng

Cyber+punk -- the precursor to all punk genres, the mix of punk attitudes and technological advancement.

Many of you have probably been exposed to the genre, even though you may not know it. Or maybe I'm being unrealistic because I love the beast.

Cyberpunk originated in the 1980's, when computers and their evolutionary potential became the next big thing. It desired to push the envelope of traditional science-fiction, trading far off planets and alien encounters for the extrapolations of a present economical and social climate exacerbated by technology.

"High tech and low life," remains the quintessential sentence for classic cyberpunk. Originally used by William Gibson to describe his first short story Burning Chrome (1982), it has now become the mainstream description of the genre and fits quite well.

Many of the cyberpunk worlds are made of omnipotent technology that has spread to become the norm rather than the exception, with corporations and government as its rulers. This leaves the hacker, cultural deviant, social rebel -- the "low life," to struggle beneath the thumb of society and its demands for generalization. But the low life usually ends up making his/her own way, transforming and individualizing technology beyond its intended use.

There are so many possible backdrops to cyberpunk stories, from the post-apocalyptic remnants of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep to the noir aesthetic of Jeff Somers' The Electric Church, it makes it such an exciting genre. The backdrop is often dictated by the author's intended message, directly related to the concepts of post-humanism, post-industrialism and post-nationalism.

It still doesn't ring a bell?

Have you heard of the authors Gibson, Sterling?

The Matrix ::nods head:: yep, that's considered cyberpunk. Blade Runner, Surrogates... all cyberpunk.
I love writing cyberpunk because it drives me to study and question the current state of things and status quo. Extrapolating from current events, socio-economical aspects and technological break throughs.

Cyberpunk imagines tomorrow.

We will go over the genre in more details (from world-building to characterization) in future cyberpunk related posts.

So, which side would you be on --the corporation's or the hacker's?

1 comment:

  1. Hacker definitely. "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

    Sorry. Everything goes back to Monty Python or Family Guy with me.

    Great intro, Steph!