The Cyberpunk wiki last edited by ruckus24 on 12/08/13 12:58PM View full history

Overview

In 1980 Bruce Bethke coined the term cyberpunk for his eponymous short story. The term was quickly co-opted to describe the works of a select group of writers who were working with new combinations of commonly recurring literary themes within the genre of science fiction. Global megacorporations and near totalitarian governments ruled landscapes dominated by advertising overload and media saturation. Cyberpunk heroes were typically disenfranchised loners who were intelligent and anarchistic, and who had more in common with the noir anti-heroes of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler than the competent man characters that proliferated through the works of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.

History

Like any good sub-genre, cyberpunk built itself from ideas that had already appeared within the confines of its' parent. In the 1950s Alfred Bester pioneered the archetype of the alienated loner in his seminal works The Demolished Man (1953) and The Stars My Destination (1956). In 1968 both Harlan Ellison and Philip K. Dick used the concept of artificial intelligence gone horribly awry in their stories I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream and Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep respectively. In 1969 Roger Zelazny made stunning use of the ideas of human cybernetics and biological upgrades in his experimental novel Creatures Of Light And Darkness. Finally in his 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider, John Brunner became one of the first to bring everything together including: a global information network, hackers, and identity theft, as well as the concept of computer worms and viruses.

Key Writers

The 1980s and 90s were the watershed decades for the cyberpunk genre which has since been re-absorbed into the science fiction mainstream. There are several writers whose early works share a commonality that could easily be classified as cyberpunk.

Bruce Sterling: The Artificial Kid (1980), Schismatrix (1985), Islands In The Net (1988).

John Shirley: Transmaniacon (1979), City Come A Walkin' (1980), Eclipse (1985), Eclipse Penumbra (1988), Eclipse Corona (1990).

Rudy Rucker: Software (1982), Wetware (1988), Freeware (1997), Realware (2000).

William Gibson: Neuromancer (1984), Count Zero (1986), Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988).

Lewis Shiner: Frontera (1984), Slam (1990)

Pat Cadigan: Synners (1991).

This is by all means not an all-inclusive list, and many Manga and comics series fall into the cyberpunk sub-genre as well including: Akira, Ghost In The Shell, Bubblegum Crisis, American Flagg, Shatter, and The Hacker Files.

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