What is Cyberpunk
Cyberpunk is a “high-tech” low-life genre of sub-genre science fiction that mixes technological advancements with a breakdown of social order. Works in this genre often show individuals struggling against more powerful forces, such as corporations or the aristocracy.
Common themes in Cyberpunk
Cyberpunk often takes place in front of a backdrop of rampant capitalism. Many stories involve elements of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and social alienation. Aesthetically the genre tends towards the sensory overload of frantic streets and lawless cityscapes. Given the tendency for characters to have cybernetic implants, the genre often overlaps with biopunk.
Or anti-heroes as the case may be. Cyberpunk is not a genre that lends itself to clean-cut heroes. Instead, we get damaged and broken people, as well as straight-up sociopaths who would be the villains of any other novel. In fact, the heroes are not much more different from the villains. They just happen to be on opposite sides.
Cyberpunk Books You Must Read
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Not the first cyberpunk novel, but possibly the work that best defines the genre. Gibson’s novel mixed science fiction with poetic noir to create something unique. Read our review here.
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Stephenson doesn’t do simple novels, and Snow Crash is no different. Mixing mythology with virtual reality and the breakdown of social order; Snow Crash is a true whirlwind of a novel. For some people, it can be somewhat impenetrable but, for others, it will be life-changing.
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
The Count of Monte Cristo goes science fiction. Bester is one of the founders of cyberpunk and The Stars My Destination is a must read if you’re dipping your toes into the genre. Similar to Bester’s, perhaps more famous, work The Demolished Man, The Stars My Destination is a novel that forces the reader to examine what drives humanity. You can read our full review of The Stars My Destination here.
Cyberpunk Movies to watch
It may have dated a little, but it’s still a classic and it’s still cool. You can also make a good drinking game by picking out the Christ allusions peppered throughout the film.
Inspired by the incredible Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Bladerunner is perhaps the best example of the cyberpunk aesthetic on the big screen.
“High tech, low life.”
Mike Pondsmith, creator of Cyberpunk 2020, defines cyberpunk.
“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding…”
William Gibson, author of Neuromancer.
“I took Punk to be the detonation of some slow-fused projectile buried deep in society’s flank a decade earlier, and I took it to be, somehow, a sign.”
William Gibson, being awesome again.
“We’ve got the corporate control, news as entertainment, hacker revolutionaries, and class warfare of your typical cyberpunk future but somehow missed out on the android servants.”
C.T. Phipps telling us why we’re living in a Cyberpunk Future.
“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead station.”
William Gibson, yet again, from Neuromancer.
“Every new generation of SF writers remakes cyberpunk – a genre often laced with dystopian subtexts – in its own image.”
Paul Di Filippo