It's all about "high-tech and lowlife." Set in near-future dystopias, the cyberpunk genre is all about the easy availability of new technology and its utilization by those folks on the "other side of the tracks." We're talking about criminals, here—brawlers, thieves and school skippers. It's also about computers, the smarter the better. Oftentimes they prove smarter than the people around them.
The word "cyberpunk" was coined in a short story published in 1983 and this sci-fi subgenre was made popular by authors like William Gibson, Rudy Rucker and Neil Stephenson.
Cyberpunk stories usually have the following themes in common:
Impact of technology on humanity: In a cyberpunked near-future, technology is everywhere and usually affects most social interactions. People use computers for everything and can access them directly through neural interfaces. Humanity can be augmented with bionic parts—stronger limbs, better eyes, faster reflexes and longer lives.
Fusion/Confusion of man and machine: Cyborgs, sentient computers and robots—cyberpunk often blurs what it means to be human. Traits and roles we take for granted as human are adopted by machinery. This fusion also affects the control of perception—numerous storylines explore "cyberspace" or use a virtual-reality environment to take the place of the “real world.”
Corporate control over society: Cyberpunk almost always has an all-powerful controlling entity that directs society. Most often this is represented as a corporation. Sometimes it’s an ever-present singular government or a crime syndicate.
The story is told from the gutter: Cyberpunk almost always focuses on the underground of society. While the story may lead to revolution and a dismantling of the power structure, the perspective is almost always that of the oppressed "punk."
Access to information: Cyberpunk often deals with the continual spread and access to information. Hacker themes and ever-connecting internets are common.
Cyberpunk visuals and style: Cyberpunk visuals, ideally, are dirty, hyper-realistic “lived in” looks at the near future. And just as important, a sense of slick style often pervades a cyberpunk movie or game.
Cyberpunk plots: Often center on a conflict among hackers, artificial intelligences and mega corporations. They tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than the far future.
Settings: The settings are usually post-industrial dystopias, but tend to be marked by extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its creators.
The Hero (Protagonist): Protagonists in cyberpunk writing usually include computer hackers, who are often patterned on the idea of the lone hero fighting injustice: Robin Hood, Zorro, etc. They are often disenfranchised people placed in extraordinary situations. Many cyberpunk protagonists are placed in situations where they have little or no choice but to act.
Here's a PowerPoint presentation on the subgenre.
Learn something useful!!!!
Every weird word and odd phrase you will find in the subgenre is here.
The Hackers' Manifesto
They are many, they are angry and they have mad computer skillz.
This is the short story that started it all.
Two criminals take on a bigger fish, and one of the guy's girlfriend wants designer eyes.
He has a hard drive in his head. Plus, a heroin-addicted dolphin!
It's tough to stay on top..