Retro gaming fans and lovers of the book have been (anxiously?) waiting for this movie to come out: Ready Player One is in the cinemas now. Even though we haven’t seen it yet, the trailer already gave us a very cyberpunk-ish vibe for this science-fiction story.
Thus, we wanted to take the time to look at the cyberpunk subgenre a bit more!
You might also be interested in reading about the Steampunk genre.
What Is Cyberpunk?
So, what is cyberpunk? It’s a subgenre of science-fiction. Just like sci-fi, cyberpunk has a futuristic setting. However, while science-fiction often concentrates on space adventures and exploring new worlds and parts of the galaxy, cyberpunk explores another social class in these scenarios. The parts of the futuristic cyberpunk novels and movies show are often run down and broken, showing a poorer population of the future world.
The future displayed can rather be described as dystopian, showing more of the negative effects the high-end technology had on the human (and robotic) evolution. In its themes and characters, cyberpunk is actually quite close to film noir. Often, the protagonists are displayed as loners that revolt against the megacorporations of the future, or hackers fighting against the highly technologically developed government of the cyberpunk world. In general, they appear to be social outcasts in their world.
The Beginnings Of Cyberpunk
The 1960’s and 70’s are widely regarded as the years of the origins of cyberpunk. The magazine “New Worlds” invited authors and writers to experiment with their writing and explore more controversial storytelling. Many authors were intrigued to paint a less attainable and happy picture of future worlds. Thus, their stories were set in a dystopian, more terrifying setting. The effects of rapidly evolving technology, drugs and the debauchery of coping with all of this were common themes.
All in all, cyberpunk strayed from the positive and hopeful look into the future. One of the most prominent novels created in this time is Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” (1968). The novel was later turned into a movie by Ridley Scott of “Alien” fame. “Blade Runner” was released in 1982, following another cyberpunk movie that released one year earlier named “Johnny Mnemonic“.
While traditional science-fiction was more popular and mainstream, cyberpunk can still be found. 2013’s “Snowpiercer” was a cyberpunk movie set in a destroyed, snow-covered futuristic world, based on the graphic novel of the same name. “Blade Runner” also saw a sequel in 2017 which also picked up the cyperpunk/noir setting. In 2018, Netflix released a series titled “Altered Carbon” that is also categorized as cyberpunk.
The developer team behind the widely popular “The Witcher” video games series are also working on a roleplay game called “Cyberpunk 2077” that will be released in the upcoming years (hopefully before 2077).
Want to immerse yourself even more in the world of cyberpunk?
Check out Cyberpunk Atmospheres on Ambient Mixer.