Mar 8th, 2019
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  2. [22 March 2019]
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  8. Cyberpunk is where science and technology meets society
  9. What exactly is cyberpunk? The question seems to be continuously resurrected in cyberpunk communities without ever coming to a conclusion as to a definition. What is the point of this topic then? While it is true that cyberpunk may mean different things to different people, there certainly is a common thread. That then is what we're after.
  11. Cyberpunk is “low life, high tech”
  12. The very word cyberpunk is itself a portmanteau of cybernetics, the science and technology of the system, and punk, the philosophy of rebellion against the system. Where the system intends for order, cyberpunks frequently make disorder; as they say, “the street will find its own use for things.” To understand the movement we must look past the black-and-white to see the modern world in its true shades of grey as the lines between natural and artificial, organic and mechanical, and real and virtual continue to blur.
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  17. Trying to define Cyberpunk is a difficult task. In short, however, Cyberpunk refers to both a culture and a genre.
  18. Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that features advanced science and technology in an urban, dystopian future. On one side you have powerful mega-corporations and private security forces, and on the other you have the dark and gritty underworld of illegal trade, gangs, drugs, and vice. In between all of this is politics, corruption, and social upheaval.
  19. “High tech. Low life.”
  20. Cyberpunk is also a culture with attitude and a distinct style. Anti-authoritarian, brand-averse, tech-literate; these are just some of the qualities you may find in a cyberpunk.
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  25. Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction that's "high tech and low life." The genre generally focuses on the conflict between hackers and corrupt governments and megacorporations, in a dystopic near-future setting. Subtexts of the genre, like in William Gibson's prophetic novel Neuromancer, often deal with the social (and occasionally economic) impacts of new technology like cybernetics.
  26. Originally gaining popularity in the late 20th century, cyberpunk has stood the test of time, as our present-day world starts to move more and more in the direction of the fictional worlds in the aforementioned Neuromancer and Ridley Scott's near-prophetic film Blade Runner.
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  31. A comment from Thomas Eicher, about defining cyberpunk:
  32. "Gibson said it in a short story somewhere. Cyberpunk is the stuff that has EDGE written all over it. You know, not edge, it's written EDGE. All capital letters. Now ask me how I'd define EDGE. Well, EDGE is not about definitions. To the contrary, things so well known that they provide an exact definition can't be EDGE. They probably once were but now they ain't. SO DON'T TRY TO DEFINE IT!!!"
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  37. There are competing claims about the origins of the term "cyberpunk": according to John Clute in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (s.v. "Gibson") the term originated as the title of a short story by Bruce Bethke in the November, 1983 issue of Amazing. Gardner Dozois then used the title to describe near-future SF focused on heavily-computerized global economic culture with a strong popular-culture ambience. The most-quoted description of cyberpunk is found in Bruce Sterling's "Preface" to Mirrorshades:
  39. "Science fiction - at least according to its official dogma - has always been about the impact of technology. But times have changed since the comfortable era of Hugo Gernsback, when Science was safely enshrined - and confined - in an ivory tower. The careless technophilia of those days belongs to a vanished, sluggish era, when authority still had a comfortable margin of control.
  41. "For the cyberpunks, by stark contrast, technology is visceral. It is not the bottled genie of remote Big Science boffins; it is pervasive, utterly intimate. Not outside us, but next to us. Under our skin; often, inside our minds.
  43. "Technology itself has changed. Not for us the giant steam- snorting wonders of the past: the Hoover Dam, the Empire State Building, the nuclear power plant. Eighties tech sticks to the skin, responds to the touch: the personal computer, the Sony Walkman, the portable telephone, the soft contact lens. (Sterling xiii-xiv)"
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  48. The people who populate the dark urban sprawl cities of the future, who are caught in the cogs of an immense world machine, follow trends and fashion as if their lives depend on it because there lives often do. Cyberpunk writers are fascinated by popculture as a skill, not just popular culture as a topic of academic interest, "In pop culture, practice comes first; theory follows limping in its tracks," writes Bruce Sterling. They explore the immediacy of the latest trends; and in cyberpunk trends and fashions are indistinguishable. They pass so quickly that it is a full time job just keeping up with them. In his short story "Freezone," John Shirley explores a society in its different fads, and how these fads conflict with one another. There are two "crowds" in this story vying for popularity: the Minimonos, who are rising in popularity, and the Flares whose popularity is waning,
  50. "The Minimono crowd wore their hair long, fanned out between the shoulders and narrowing to a point at the crown of the head, and straight, absolutely straight, stiff, so from the back each head had a black or gray or red or white tepee-shape. Those, in monochrome, were the only acceptable colors. Flat tones and no streaks. Their clothes were stylistic extensions of their hairstyles. Minimono was a reaction to Flare. And to the chaos of the war, and the war economy. The Flare style was going, dying."
  52. These fleeting fashions also reflect the immediacy of life in these stories because fashions come and go as quickly as the people.
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  58. Lawrence Person has attempted to define the content and ethos of the cyberpunk literary movement stating:
  60. Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.
  62. —- Lawrence Person
  64. Cyberpunk plots often center on conflict among artificial intelligences, hackers, and megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than in the far-future settings or galactic vistas found in novels such as Isaac Asimov's Foundation or Frank Herbert's Dune. The settings are usually post-industrial dystopias but tend to feature extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its original inventors ("the street finds its own uses for things"). Much of the genre's atmosphere echoes film noir, and written works in the genre often use techniques from detective fiction. There are sources who view that cyberpunk has shifted from a literary movement to a mode of science fiction due to the limited number of writers and its transition to a more generalized cultural formation.
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