The term cyberpunk refers to a literary offshoot of the science fiction genre that generally focuses on the effects of advanced technology—particularly computers—on individual and collective human psychology and behavior. More specifically, cyberpunk came to describe a cultural movement, which included not only fiction but also music, film, print and online magazines, and scholarly theory, that sought to come to terms with the post-industrial Age of Information by confronting it with punk subculture rebelliousness. Characterized by a self-conscious style and dystopian themes, cyberpunk reached the height of its popularity in the 1980s alongside the deconstructive and postmodernist theories of thinkers such as Jacques Derrida and Jean-François Lyotard, who emphasized subjective interpretation and denied the existence of central meaning in literature and society. These ideas coincided with the rise of Internet culture, a phenomenon that moved the personal computer from the workplace to the home, where it became entrenched in daily human life. Cyberpunks imagined a world devoid of human contact, where robots and cyborgs—hybrids of humans and machines—ruled and human consciousness was usually detached from the body. While the cyberpunk movement explored valid fears about the encroachment of machines into human life, it was strongly criticized by feminists, who believed that it promoted the needs and desires of white middle-class males. Consequently, a branch of cyberpunk arose that addressed the concerns of women, homosexuals, and people of color in the technological era. Cyberpunk began dying off as a literary subgenre in the early 1990s, as acceptance of cyberculture and computers increased among the public. Critical assessment of cyberpunk ranges from those who approach it with scorn to those who view it as a legitimate literary exploration of life in the post-humanist age.
Blood Music (novel) 1986
Great Sky River (novel) 1987
Bone Dance (novel) 1991
Mindplayers (novel) 1989
Synners (novel) 1991
Fools (novel) 1992
Neuromancer (novel) 1984
Burning Chrome (short stories) 1986
Count Zero (novel) 1986
Mona Lisa Overdrive (novel) 1988
William Gibson and Bruce Sterling
The Difference Engine (novel) 1991
Worlds: A Novel of the Near Future (novel) 1981
Worlds Apart (novel) 1983
Tool of the Trade (novel) 1987
“A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s” (essay) 1985
K. W. Jeter
Dr. Adder (novel) 1984
Farewell Horizontal (novel) 1989
Arachne (novel) 1990
China Mountain Zhang (novel) 1992
Red Spider White Web (novel) 1990
Glass Houses (novel) 1992
Gravity's Rainbow (novel) 1973
Chimera (novel) 1993
Software (novel) 1982
Rudy Rucker, R. U. Sirius, and Queen Mu, eds.
The Mondo 2000 User's Guide to the New Edge (magazine) 1992
The Female Man (novel) 1975
Frontera (novel) 1984
Slam (novel) 1990
Schismatrix (novel) 1985
Mirrorshades (novel) 1986
Islands in the Net (novel) 1988
Correspondence (novel) 1991
James Tiptree, Jr.
The Girl Who Was Plugged In (novella) 1973
Walter Jon Williams
Hardwired (novel) 1989
SOURCE: “The Post-Liberal Mind/Body, Postmodern Fiction, and the Case of Cyberpunk SF,” in Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 19, No. 58, November, 1992, pp. 395-403.
[In the following essay, Fekete reviews the volume Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodern Science Fiction, providing a brief overview of the cyberpunk movement.]
We see through eyeglasses and contacts; we eat with dentures. We remove cataracts and replace the lenses. We insert video cameras inside our bodies to aid in “keyhole” surgery; we remove our gall bladders and throw them away. We replace our hearts, kidneys, and livers with other organs: human, baboon, or...
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SOURCE: “Cyberpunk and the Crisis of Postmodernity,” in Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative, edited by George Slusser and Tom Shippey, The University of Georgia Press, 1992, pp. 142-52.
[In the following essay, Olsen examines the increasing conservatism and mainstream acceptance of cyberpunk and postmodernism.]
The 1980s may have marked the beginning of the end of postmodernism—that mode of radical skepticism that challenges all we once took for granted about language and experience—as the dominant, or at least quasi-dominant, form of consciousness in American culture. This demise may be partially the result of our country's drift toward...
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SOURCE: “Fiction and the Future,” in College English, Vol. 55, No. 8, December, 1993, pp. 908-18.
[In the following essay, Crossley provides a survey of futuristic science fiction works and reviews several works that critically examine science fiction and cyberpunk.]
The future has been a viable locale for the novel ever since Mary Shelley imagined a twenty-first century world depopulated by plague in her 1826 The Last Man. H. G. Wells turned Shelley's isolated experiment into a career, patenting the future as a playground of imagination and a laboratory for disciplined speculation. Beginning in 1895 with The Time Machine, he produced a series of...
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SOURCE: “Cyberpunk = Gibson = Neuromancer,” in Science Fiction Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2, July, 1993, pp. 266-72.
[In the following essay, Latham reviews Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative, finding the volume narrow in scope and lacking in substance.]
In the informal interview that closes Fiction 2000 (a collection of essays from “an international symposium on the nature of fiction at the end of the twentieth century … held in Leeds, England … between June 28 and July 1, 1989 … [and focusing] specifically on the form of science fiction called cyberpunk” ), Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, responding to a remark that the conference...
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