The Definition Of Cyberpunk Essay

1961 words - 8 pages

The Definition of Cyberpunk

In Bruce Sterling's article, "Cyberpunk in the Nineties," he explained how public opinion had defined himself, Rucker, Shiner, Shirley, and Gibson as the cyberpunk "gurus" in the 1980's. Because of being labeled cyberpunk "gurus," the public had come to understand the definition of cyberpunk as "anything that cyberpunks write." To break this definition of cyberpunk established by popular public opinion, I will pursue giving cyberpunk a more definite definition. After reading numerous cyberpunk fiction stories, I noticed reoccurring themes in these stories. I believe these themes can form a criteria under which a story can be defined as cyberpunk. These criteria are total enhancement and integration of everyday life by technology, some degree of pleasure (by the author) in explaining this technology, cyber-lingo, and some degree of global connectiveness.

The first criterion or theme, total enhancement and integration of everyday life by technology is probably the most obvious and vital in order for a story to be deemed cyberpunk. Why is it the most obvious and most vital? It is the most obvious because cyberpunk writers use the "everyday," that is, objects, concepts, or places we causally shrug off as normal, and integrate/enhance the normal with technology. A good example can be found in John Shirley's "Freezone." Upon entering the "Semiconductor" the scene is unusual but appears to be a everyday freak club. An occasional flare dots the audience. They have multi-colored hair that is styled straight up. In reaction to the flares and much more frequent than the flares are minimonos; they have ultra-straight hair falling down past their shoulders and uniform monochrome colored clothes. Anyway, the crowd is unusual, but you could find just as unusual a crowd at any local punk club. However, one aspect of the club that at first appears normal, but then transforms itself thanks to technology is the walls. They react to the "music with color streaking wavelengthing in oscilloscope patterns, shades of blue-white for high-end, red and purple for bass and percussion" (Shirley 146). What makes this example obvious is that today's walls are expected to be just walls with no redeeming qualities. In the Semiconductor, the walls are a piece of everyday life enhanced and integrated with technology; an everyday object given attention and made into a phenomenon by technology. So what makes this criteria or theme so vital? The primary reason is mood. Cyberpunk fiction seeks to propel the reader into the near-future with the "everyday" made novel. If the everyday seems to normal, the reader feels left in today. If the everyday can't even be found and everything seems foreign because nothing relates to the reader, then the reader is reading another genre - probably mainstream science fiction. So the reader is isolated only by fantastic technology, but not familiarity. This fantastic technology combined with familiarity can be found...

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