It’s an interesting genre. I’ve found myself reading more and more cyberpunk lately, most notibly William Gibson, Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson. I find it not only facinating but ripe with potential. I think that my current work in progress (and at least one other on the back burner) can be classified as cyberpunk. But what exactly is cyberpunk?
According to The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, cyberpunk is a “term used to describe a school of sf writing that developed and became popular during the 1980s.”
The word is believed to have been coined by author Bruce Bethke in his short story Cyberpunk, which appeared in Amazing Stories in 1983. It was subsequently picked up by writer and editor Gardner Dozois and used to describe a literary movement sparked by writers such as William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.
That explains the start of the cyberpunk movement, but how about what it is. Like many speculative genre’s, there is no one specific, clear cut definition. To me, cyberpunk is a genre that explores the interaction of technology and man (in the generic sense of the word) in a not so distant future. This could be the measurement of the effect of technology not just singularly, but on a larger scale, such as a society. In fact, I think that both views are required for a cyberpunk story to be believable. Ironically, technology has changed so rapidly in the past decade that stories written in 80’s and early 90’s are now outdated, with many of the ideas explored come true.
Cyberpunk today is a prediction of tomorrow. That’s what makes it fun.