What is Cyberpunk?

I recently saw an article with the headline We’re on the Brink of Cyberpunk and while I did not read this article it did get me thinking about what people might consider a Cyberpunk world to be. With images of from the movies eXistenZ and Ex Machina running through my head, I did my best to envision this future we are on the ‘brink’ of.

Some might ask, “What is Cyberpunk?” It’s a combination of advanced technology paired with a gritty society, one that’s falling apart. This term was initially coined by Bruce Bethke in his short story Cyberpunk. You’ll find plenty of options in our catalog for exploring how different authors envision cyberpunk worlds.

To start us off, if you’d like a little mood music, try the album 100 Greatest Science Fiction Themes which has 100 songs from different movies that would go great as your Cyberpunk background music.

As for books, try Moxyland by Lauren Beukes.  It’s set in a dystopian South Africa where you get in serious trouble for disconnecting from the internet. You get to see this world through four different narrators challenging this way of life. In Infomocracy, a political thriller by Malka Older, we see a world controlled by a search engine with an election on the horizon.

In a city full of pollution and illness, the wealthy buy their way out of the smog and leave everyone else to suffer, until some teenagers decide to make a change in Cindy Pon’s young adult book Want.  Another young adult book is Warcross by Marie Lu, in which we follow a bounty hunter who accidentally hacks her way into an online gaming tournament. Making a sensation of herself, she gets hired to discover a security problem in the tournament but ultimately has to unravel a conspiracy.

Next are two books with the same theme of drugs in the future. In Ramez Naam’s book Nexus, a drug connects you to another person’s mind. This gives us a world where people want to improve, eradicate, or exploit the drug and leaves us with a book about international espionage. False Hearts by Laura Lam is centered around conjoined sisters who get separated and are given artificial hearts. They go about their lives until one of them is accused of murder and associated with a crime syndicate that specializes in a drug that allows people to live out their most violent desires.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you get the feel for Cyberpunk, if that does end up being our fate.

~Posted by Meranda T.


One thought on “What is Cyberpunk?”

  1. I would have listed William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” and Neil Stephenson’s “Snow Crash,” as the most important cyberpunk, coining the terms “The Matrix” and “The Metaverse,” respectively.

    The entirety of Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy (including Neuromancer) and Bridge Trilogy are excellent cyberpunk.

    Neuromancer: https://seattle.bibliocommons.com/item/show/2950899030
    Snow Crash: https://seattle.bibliocommons.com/item/show/2632135030

    And for music, one might search Central Industrial’s albums “Tuned to a Dead Channel,” and “Flaring Blue in a Timeless Space.”

    Seems the genre is really taking off these days.

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