Thursday, August 12, 2010

13 Things about the Cyberpunk Subgenre

Samhain Publishing's latest call for submissions is for a cyberpunk anthology. Editor Sasha Knight is looking for a few good futuristically oriented novellas with a deadline of February 2011. You can check out the full call for submissions at the Samhain Paranormal Authors blog, where I posted the request. Or here

Don't know much about cyberpunk? Here are some tidbits to get your creativity flowing:

1) Think of movies like Blade Runner, Terminator et al, The Matrix, A Clockwork Orange, Akira, Brainstorm, Brazil, Robo Cop et al, Heavy Metal, Tron (and New Tron, coming soon to theaters near you!), Alien et al, Wargames, Fifth Element, eXistenZ, Gattaca, Ghost in the Shell, Hackers, Johnny Mnemonic (on second thought, DON'T think of this movie), Tank Girl, Twelve Monkeys, Virtuosity, Appleseed, Aeon Flux, Gamer, I Robot, Minority Report, Imposter, Surrogates, Trouble and her Friends

2) Think of books like Neuromancer, Naked Lunch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Shockwave Rider, Mirrorshades, Islands in the Net, Wetware, Snowcrash, Mona Lisa Overdrive, Hardwired, The Diamond Age, Mindplayers, The Difference Engine, Glass Hammer, Halting State, Diaspora, Kamira: The Sky Village, Kiln People, The Hunger Games, the short-lived Shomi books, Archangel Protocol

3) Check out this article about female characters in cyberpunk (you'll notice the books are almost all written by dudes):

4) Here's an interview with a female cyberpunk author, Pat Cadigan, with some fascinating reflections of what it means to be a feminist:

5) When you Google Cyberpunk Romance, Samhain's call for submissions and the various repostings of it are one of the main things that appear. Which means the cyberpunk romance field is wide open!

6) Here's a discussion about whether cyberpunk is dead at Absolute Write forums:

7) Adjectives I've seen repeatedly in connection to "What is cyberpunk?": dystopian, cynical, post-industrial, bleak, gritty, cybernetic, techie, near-future, computerized, post-modernist, troubled, dark, sinister, Orwellian

8) Nouns I've seen repeatedly in connection to "What is cyberpunk?: wasteland, Earth, datasphere, film noir, anime, future, corporations, networks, cyberspace, virtual reality, rebellion, revolution, hackers, Japan

9) According to several online sources (Wiki, others) the bleakness of cyberpunk was in part a rejection of the ebullient science fiction utopias so common in the 40s and 50s. That being said, considering cyberpunk didn't really take off until the 80s, I guess they had to work themselves up for a couple decades. Not to mention survive the 60's and 70's with their brains intact enough to write...

10) Site with a ton of cyberpunk movie reviews:

11) Cyberpunk is different from other subgenres of science fiction because it's usually near-future earth, very dystopian, and focuses on the implications of a totally networked culture, where genetic and cybernetic alternations, Ais and androids are common and giant corporations generally control the world instead of governments.

12) According to several sources, cyberpunk also often contains a lot of drug references, violence, Asiatic influences, anti-heroes and anti-heroines and a general nihilism.

13) Steampunk is more optimistic than cyberpunk.


What else marks cyberpunk as distinct from other science fiction genres?

Jody W. *


  1. I can do drugs (although i suppose you meant something else.)

  2. Good definitions, thanks, I hadn't heard this subgenre mentioned before. Sounds like a bleaker version of urban fantasy in the near future.

  3. I started a series I think would be cyberpunk 10 years or more ago and couldn't remember the title until now -- Otherland by Tad Williams. I never finished it!