This is a continuation of a series I started last week.
In researching punk genres for this series, I soon realized that some people are passionate about labels. I came across several threads in chat rooms and forums, where posters actually argued over the essence of each of these subgenres. More than one included some very not so nice names and explicatives. I find it interesting. I understand the need for genre labels, but for me, the story is ALWAYS more important than the label.
Cyberpunk, as the ones I mentioned last week, stems from an alternative world. The story is often slanted towards a dystopian or post-apocalyptic world where the advances in technology serve to hurt the masses. The characters rebel against society in some form or fashion, often starting in small ways and then ending in a massive way. These characters are often hackers who have just a little more technology knowledge than the ruling party of the time. The stories take place in the future and authors often speculate about the technology that will be available at that time. However, authors are limited to their own frame of reference.
William Gibson author of Neuromancer is credited with jump-starting this genre. The movies Blade Runner, Mad Max, and The Matrix and great theatrical examples of this genre. The name cyberpunk comes from the short story “Cyberpunk” by Bruce Bethke.
Cyberpunk almost seems satirical in nature. It serves to poke fun of current technology and highlight the dichotomy of the haves and the have-nots. In the early ’80s when cyberpunk began, technology began to grow faster than it ever has. With the advent of the personal computer, what was once mostly used in businesses and governments now allowed everyone access to a new world. The corporate world demanded control over technology growth while many argued the possibilities of corruption.
The cyberpunks have been the most powerful single influence on science fiction over the past two decades, an influence that is explained by their perceptive analysis of the cultural and social changes generated or threatened by “media in transition.” (citation)
The main difference between cyberpunk and steampunk lies in world building. In steampunk, authors add to a world that already happened. In cyberpunk, authors must create a world from scratch. Though most of the technology in the stories are based on what is available today, world building is only limited by the author’s imagination. Authors cannot only create a real world but can also create a virtual reality where most or some of the action takes place (think Tron).
I admit I like watching this genre more than reading it. The Matrix Series is one of my favorites. I also enjoyed the movies Aeon Flux and Lucy. I’m looking forward to Ghost in the Shell.
Nanopunk, a subgenre of cyberpunk, is a growing part of the cyberpunk world. These stories center on the use of nanotechnologies. This reminds me of Borg technology from Star Trek. Since nanotechnology is still in infancy, this genre relies heavily on the what-ifs and world building is wide open.
Last week, I shared I wanted to design a steampunk costume for a Halloween party I was to attend. What a lot of work. I am too much of a last minute person so it didn’t happen. I did, however, come up with a different costume: