Debating the Existence of Cyberpunk Today

277299-header1

The last two weeks I have been conducting a literature review to see what I could find about the existence of cyberpunk today. My first research objectives was to get a clear definition of what cyberpunk is, so I could create some sort of criteria for examining modern texts.

I came to the consensus that cyberpunk can be defined as the intersection between science fiction and postmodernism. It is a type of science fiction that deals with real world technologies and near futures and sets them against a cyber-fantasy backdrop.

“Cyberpunk is the integration of technology and literature in a world where the gap between science fiction and reality is rapidly closing” (Guven 1995).

From my research of the themes found in the cyberpunk genre and through my understanding of cyberpunk in the films I watch, I made this checklist …

High tech – Low Life

Futuristic Dystopian world

Greed driven corporation or oppressive government system

Visual representations of data

Speculations about the future of existing technologies

A convergence between humans and machines

A brooding out cast protagonist

An anarchist rebellion against dominating oppression

A seedy underground of drugs and crime

Outlandish edgy fashion with punk roots

Noire overall feel

 

My next objective was to delve into the debate that cyberpunk as movement is over.

Bruce Sterling proclaims that cyberpunk is dead because it has become restrained, commercialized, and mimetic. According to him the respected benchmarks’ of cyberpunk no longer offer, “spontaneous back-flips and crazed dancing on the tables”. The settings come closer and closer to the present day, losing the fantasy (Sterling 1998).

“In the age of Neuromancer we could still believe for one charismatic moment that the body could deep-dish its way past screenal telemetry into galactic flows of data presence”…” Jonny Mnemonic is a bitter reminder of the decline of cyberpunk into the present state of hyper-rational technology (Kelly & Kessel 2007, p.8)

Finally using my check list I set out to find any modern day examples of cyberpunk and not just in films and novels but in clothing, music, games and real life people.

438581

 

 

1469e1bbe70634757cc43fab47ceccca

EG4F4J portrait of hacker with mask

cyberpunk-culture-today-grimes-plastic-chics-and-male-babes-with-medieval-weapons-and-hair-extensions-freaking-awesome

maxresdefault

cybergoth2

julian_assange_2010-front1

References

Guven, S 1995, ‘The Future in Cyberpunk’, Computer Writing and Research Lab, University of Texas, Austin.

Kelly, J & Kessel, J 2007, Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology, Tachyon, San Francisco.

Sterling, B 1998, Cyberpunk In The Nineties, Interzone, viewed 25 March 2016, <http://lib.ru/STERLINGB/interzone.txt&gt;.

Advertisements

Cyberpunks Not Dead

dystopia-cyberpunk_00353178.jpg

My favourite movies are Sci-Fi, but more specifically Cyberpunk is my favourite sub-genre of Sci-Fi. Movies like Blade Runner with brooding, gun toting, outcast protagonists and not so far off futures saturated with super advanced mundane technologies, urban decay, power balances and oppression.

Lately I have noticed that there aren’t a lot of new movies like this, unless they are reboots of pre-existing movies. This got me thinking about why this may be the case. Is it simply because the trend is over? Just like fashion trends, movies have always come in waves, that are hot one minute and then gone the next; the current trend being Super Hero Action Blockbusters.

I can’t help but think however, that it could be more to do with the idea that Cyberpunk as a genre formed as a result of man’s fear of technology. Cyberpunk is always set in a near future where technologies that exist at the time are being used in a way that threatens the survival the lower to middle class everyday people.

“It was cyberspace and console cowboys, leather jackets, Zeiss eye implants, modded Russian knockoff prostheses…The future was bizarre and threatening and also strangely real”. Paolo Bacigalupi

ygGSny9.jpg

Could it be that we have somehow become less fearful of technology growing up alongside it? We are currently living in an age where technology advances so quickly, we become complacent to it, unimpressed by it and accepting of it. We are also living in the future described by cyberpunk writers of the past, the technologies are real so it’s not exciting or fantastical anymore.

cyberpunk_20somethin_by_nathantwist

We have a clearer idea of where our future is headed already having tapped into Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing and Virtual Reality. Could it be that cyberpunk movies a disappearing  because we have a greater grasp of cyber culture?

What I intend to examine for my research project is the idea of modern day Cyberpunk. I want to form a clear definition of what cyberpunk actually is as both a genre and a culture and I want to pose the question ‘can cyberpunk exist today’ and if so what kind of dystopian visions do we hold for our current technologies? To do this plan to look at recent texts and hold them against a set of cyberpunk criteria.

cyberpunk.jpg