It is a hard thing to define the term “Cyberpunk”, which indicates both a culture and a genre. The design construct of the Cyberpunk theme, which is one of the sub-genres of the science fiction, suggests that the nature died off completely and it is replaced by the high tech elements and all of this overshadows the human life.
In short, we can introduce the cyberpunk as the “High tech. Low life.”
Fan edited music video for “Within” from Random Access Memories. (About CyberPunk!)
In the cyberpunk universes, an advanced level of science and technology prevails in a dystopian future setting. Social chaos and unrest loom over the in the society. Although there may be a state structure in the background, political chaos and corruption run amok in such a system. However, most of the time, the governments are either incompetent or are dissolved completely. On the other hand, Mega Companies (generally, tech based ones) that seek huge profits direct and shape the society, public sector and even the security. In the cyberpunk theme, an industrial dystopia is dominant.
In the world of humans on the other hand, is defined as a dark world, filled with illegal trade, gangs, and drugs. The internet connectivity is very high and most of the people live in a virtual reality. The outer space is not mentioned in Cyberpunk genre, the space in question is always the virtual space. The line between what is real and what is virtual is as thin as it gets and sometimes they blend in together. The number of hackers is high due to the high level of the technology. In such societies, cyberpunks, androids and artificial intelligences exist and they are found together with the humans. Human like androids are one of the important symbols of this kind of society.
Although resembling a tech based utopia, the cyberpunk genre reveals the darker side of the advanced tech based society. In a cyberpunk setting, system does not work for the benefit of the humans.
In the term “cyberpunk” while cyber indicates the advanced technology, the term punk indicates the society, the people. Being punk underlines questioning the authority and attempting to bring down the acknowledged authority. The protagonists in a cyberpunk setting are, unlike the heroes of today, anti-heroes. They tend to be alienated, divergent, ousted, criminal and dissenter. In the structure of the cyberpunk, the weak shall perish.
“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.” Lawrence Person.
The term cyberpunk derives from the short story titled “The Cyberpunk”, written by Bruce Bethke in 1983 for Amazing Science Fiction Stories Magazine.
The first writers, coming to mind when the cyberpunk is mentioned, are William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley and Lewis Shiner. While B. Bethke is the first writer to coin the term, w. Gibson is the principal writer in this genre. With his 1984 book titled “the Neuromancer” and the subsequent titles “Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, which complete the Sprawl Trilogy, he became the main representative of the Cyberpunk term.
Although the cyberpunk emerged in the literature, by turning into an ever-growing sub-culture, it penetrated into the art fashion and even the philosophy.
The movie “Blade Runner”, which was adopted and scripted from the 1982 Philip K. Dick Book “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” and was filmed by Ridley Scott to star Harrison Ford, is a cult example of the cyberpunk genre.
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The movies such as Matrix, Equilibrium, Robocop, Terminator, Mad Max etc. are also from the genre.
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If we list some of the cyber punk themed games, we can mention the System Shock, Deus Ex, Metal Gear, Megami Tensei, Syndicate.
This genre has also influenced the music. Kraftwerk and the Prodigy can be associated with this genre.
The cyberpunk theme is abundantly used in manga and anime today. Especially the Ghost in the Shell is the first work in this regard due to the fact that it reflects the main theme of this genre. The other examples include Akira, Ergo Proxy, Battle Angel Alita Psycho-Pass.