Cyberpunk

First use of term: Bruce Bethke in a 1983 story called "Cyberpunk"

First use of it as a sub-genre name: by Gardner Dozois

aka: Radical Hard SF | the Outlaw Technologists | Neuroromantics | Mirrorshades Group | the Movement

John Kessel on Cyberpunk, from The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, ed. James Gunn

"Cyberpunk finds its center in the writing of William Gibson and the theories of Bruce Sterling. In his samizdat flyer Cheap Truth, Sterling (under the pseudonym Vincent Omniaveritas) charged SF of the 1970s with having fallen into a rut. At the high-tech end of the genre, Sterling maintained, SF amounted to little more than an endless rehash of galactic empires, faster-than-light drives, and social system that seemed to be projected from life in the American suburbs of 1960, which were out of keeping with subsequent changes in technology and society. On the literary end, the descendants of the New Wave had almost abandoned technological extrapolation and moved toward the values of the literary mainstream, concentrating on style and characterization more than on original SF content. To Sterling this "humanist" SF, typified by the fiction of Kim Stanley Robinson, Connie Willis, Pat Murphy, John Kessel, James Patrick Kelly, Carter Scholtz, Michael Swanwick, Nancy Kress, Leigh Kennedy, and others, was merely warmed-over New Wave, unwilling to come to grips with the revolutions in computers, information theory, and biotechnology."

Cyberpunk Culture: The Worldview
By Gareth Branwyn, quoted in Rucker, Mondo 2000, 64, 66

 The future has imploded onto the present. There was no nuclear Armageddon. There’s too much real estate to lose. The new battlefield is peoples’ minds.

The megacorps are the new governments.

The U.S. is a big bully.

The World is splintering into a trillion subcultures and designer cults with their own languages, codes, and lifestyles.

Computer-generated info-domains are the next frontiers.

There is better living through chemistry.

Small groups or individual "console cowboys" can wield tremendous power over governments, corporations, etc.

The coalescence of a computer "culture" is expressed in self-aware computer music, art, virtual communities, and a hacker/street tech subculture.

The nerd image is passé.

The computer is a cool tool, a friend, an important augmentation.

We’re becoming cyborgs. Our tech

 

 is getting smaller, closer to us, and it will soon merge with us.

The Cyberpunk Ethos: Motifs/Givens/Idea Clusters

anti-middle class values

Asianization

bodily metamorphosis

centrality of cyberspace

designer drugs

destructive sex

disillusionment

hard-boiled narration

high tech contrasted with junk

machine augmentation of the body

mean streets

"meat, the" (derogatory term for the body)

near future setting

nihilistic

noir atmosphere

postmodern

streetwise

virtual reality

Some Cyberpunk Authors

Acker, Kathy (1948- ) | Ballard, J. G. (1930- ) | Bear, Greg (1951- ) | Bester, Alfred (1913-87) | Brunner, John (1934- ) | Burroughs, William (1914-98) | Cadigan, Pat (1953- ) | Delany, Samuel R. (1942- ) | DeLillo, Don (1936- ) | Di Filippo, Paul (1954- ) | Dick, Philip K. (1928- 1982) | Dorsey, Candas Jane (1952- ) | Gibson, William (1948- ) | Hand, Elizabeth (1957- ) | Kelly, James Patrick (1951- ) | Kadrey, Richard (1957- ) | Misha (????- ) | Mooney, Ted (1951- ) | Murphy, Pat (1955- ) | Pynchon, Thomas (1937- ) | Rucker, Rudy (1946- ) | Shiner, Lewis (1950- ) | Shirley, John (1954- ) | Sladek, John (1937- ) | Stephenson, Neal (1959- ) | Sterling, Bruce (1954- ) | Vinge, Vernor (1944- ) | Williams, Walter John (1953- ) | Wolfe, Bernard (1915-85)

Some Cyberpunk Films/TV Series

Alien: Resurrection: Jean-Pierre Jeunet (1997) | Barb Wire: David Hogan (1996) | Blade Runner: Ridley Scott (1982) | Brazil: Terry Gilliam (1985) | Crash: David Cronenberg (1996) | Demon Seed: Donald Cammell (1976) | eXistenZ: David Cronenberg (1999) | Fly, The: David Cronenberg (1986) | Hardware: Richard Stanley (1990) | Harsh Realm (TV): Chris Carter (1999) | Johnny Mnemonic: Robert Longo (1995) | Lawnmower Man: Brett Leonard (1992) | Lawnmower Man II: Beyond Cyberspace: Farhad Mann (1996) | Matrix, The: Andy and Larry Wachowski Brothers (1999) | Max Hedroom (TV): (1985, 1987) | Naked Lunch: David Cronenberg (1991) | RoboCop: Paul Verhoeven (1987) | RoboCop II: Irvin Kershner (1990) | RoboCop III: Fred Dekker (1993) | Terminator: James Cameron (1984) | Terminator II: James Cameron (1991) | Total Recall: Paul Verhoeven (1990) | Total Recall 2070 (TV): 1999-2000 | Tron: Steven Lisberger (1982) | 12 Monkeys: Terry Gilliam (1995) | Videodrome: David Cronenberg (1983) | X-Files, The (TV): Chris Carter (1993-2000) |