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Other Book News > Is Cyberpunk on its way back?

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message 1: by Frog (last edited Jun 04, 2013 11:51AM) (new)

Frog Jones | 56 comments Mod
Good, solid, cyberpunkyness has been relegated to the dusty shelf of cliches. It's right there with men on the moon and writing stories about Mars. We just don't do it anymore.

That is to say, not really. Oh, we've got certain abominations running around woobifying the genre, making it Younger and Hipper and More Appealing to a Wider Audience, but on the whole cyberpunk seemed, for a while, like it was dying.

I'm beginning to see a glimmer, though. Not a lot, but just enough to make me hopeful.

Full media post here:, but I'd rather get a discussion going here.

message 2: by Frog (new)

Frog Jones | 56 comments Mod
Also, you can see an interview with a budding, potentially cyberpunk author, Jessica Keefe, over at the blog.

message 3: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Leigh (jedijessicuh) | 1 comments As a cyberpunk fan what exactly do you deem as cyberpunk? What are some of your favorite novels within the genre?

message 4: by Frog (last edited Jun 05, 2013 02:28PM) (new)

Frog Jones | 56 comments Mod
Cyberpunk is the "high tech, low life" of science fiction. Unlike normal science fiction, the new technology humanity develops is invariably used by the powerful to oppress the not-so-powerful.

Neuromancer is the obvious starting point for any newbie to cyberpunk, but I really prefer Snow Crash. You want a good description of a hard core cyberpunk world, check out the descriptive paragraph Stephenson lays down a couple pages into chapter 1:

"Why is the Deliverator so equipped? Because people rely on him. He is a role model. This is America. People do whatever the fuck they feel like doing, you got a problem with that? Because they have a right to. And because they have guns and no one can fucking stop them. As a result, this country has one of the worst economies in the world. When it gets down to it -- talking trade balances here -- once we've brain-drained all our technology into other countries, once things have evened out, they're making cars in Bolivia and microwave ovens in Tadzhikistan and selling them here -- once our edge in natural resources has been made irrelevant by giant Hong Kong ships and dirigibles that can ship North Dakota all the way to New Zealand for a nickel -- once the Invisible Hand has taken all those historical inequities and smeared them out into a broad global layer of what a Pakistani brickmaker would consider to be prosperity -- y'know what? There's only four things we do better than anyone else:

microcode (software)
high-speed pizza delivery"

That's cyberpunk theory. The world has progressed...and that sucks. It's a genre that allows for us to explore the potential for abuse in our future, and to explore, perhaps, ways of preventing that kind of abuse.

It was huge in the 80s and early 90s, when the world looked like it was going to be pretty scary come 2010. We knew there would be computers. We knew those computers would be networked. But everything else was up in the air, and that was frightening.

And some of it happened. We are starting to see a pronounced wealth polarization. We are starting to see mega-corps data-mining our every move (including this post) for data on how to better sell us meaningless garbage. There are certain elements of original cyberpunk theory that are, in fact, coming true, though not on as epic a scale as those books predict.

The "punk" element generally comes from the main character(s). Since the society is so downtrodden and corrupt, suddenly being a part of the counter-culture has a real nobility and meaning. While society looks down on the "punks" who struggle against the hegemony, they are almost always great, flawed protagonists that find some small triumph.

That's why The Deceiver had me so intrigued. You've got the futuristic setting, the new tech used to oppress the population, and people rising up against it.

I think there's a lot of younger people out there who are starting to realize that the next technological leap forward is coming on us--fast. It's also becoming apparent that it's far more likely that tech will be used to take advantage of us, not to help us. That means the time for cyberpunk themes is once again upon us, and I've been seeing them slowly working their way back into the zeitgeist. I don't think it's by conscious choice--I'm pretty sure you've never read Snow Crash or Neuromancer--but I love the gritty exploration of those kinds of themes, and I'm starting to see them come around again.

message 5: by Esther (new)

Esther | 8 comments Mod
Strangely enough, I've also seen Stephenson's Cryptonomicon pop up in Cyberpunk discussions a lot lately. I'd never really thought of it as an example of the cyberpunk genre before, but it does feature a main character who is rebelling against society, while struggling against a powerful, high-tech opponent. So in that respect I suppose it does have some cyberpunk themes. To me, Snow Crash is still a much more classic example. I'd always thought of Cryptonomicon as more of an of a exploration of the force history exerts on the present, and how interconnected everything really is. I can see how people could include it in the genre though.

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