Cyberpunk, as a genre, includes a wide variety of visual aesthetics but is recognised by its encompassing theme of "high tech, low life." This became prominent in the 1980s. thanks to the works of authors like Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny, J. G. Ballard, Philip Jose Farmer, and Harlan Ellison as they examined the impact of drug culture, technology, and the sexual revolution while avoiding the utopian tendencies of earlier science fiction.
Settings in the cyberpunk genre range from the richly colored, rough-around-the-edges urban jungles of Akira (1988), to the hyper-futuristic, neon cityscapes and bleak wastelands of Blade Runner 2049 (2017), with the first work in cyberpunk fiction being William Gibson's Neuromancer novel.
Themes used in cyberpunk media involve artificial intelligence, class uprising, governmental and corporate corruption, anarchy, gang warfare, and transhumanism. The range is broad but the cyberpunk aesthetic is often used to convey deeper meanings and commentate on modern society and sometimes predictions of our future society.
Cyberpunk was likely the partial inspiration (or anti-inspiration) for Solarpunk - an aesthetic that also aspires to cast a glance into the future, but does so with a much less nihilistic perspective and played a role in inspiring Vaporwave since both seem to share a seeming disdain for mainstream capitalism, but Vaporwave is more sarcastic and mocking compared to Cyberpunk, which is more open with its disdain for the corporate dystopia. In truth, most online aesthetics almost completely owe their entire existence to Cyberpunk and its rebelliousness to the status quo of the 1980s; everything from the Steampunk and Dieselpunk of yesteryear to any sort of micro-genres that will pop up in the future.
- 1 Fashion
- 2 Written Media
- 3 Film and Television
- 4 Video Games
- 5 Music
- 6 Podcasts
- 7 Philosophy
- 8 Online Communities
- 9 Subgenres and Derivatives
- 10 Images
- 11 Sources
Cyberpunk fashion, also known as tech wear, is heavily influenced by films like Johnny Mnemonic, Blade Runner, and The Matrix and could be interpreted as being "futuristic gothic fashion" and involves trench coats, boots, shiny black clothing, colored "dreads" that women might wear, etc.
- High-Cyber Gypsy
- Memetic Tees
- Plastik Wrap
- R.A.G.E. Nation Apparel
- Pat Cadigan
- William Gibson
- Rudy Rucker
- Lewis Shiner
- Bruce Sterling
- The Demolished Man, by Alfred Bester
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
- Agency, by William Gibson
- Neuromancer, by William Gibson
- Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson
- Altered Carbon, by Richard Morgan
- Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
- Accelerando, by Charles Stross
Film and Television
Cyberpunk has been very influential to film and television, inspiring the aesthetics of movies, television shows, and anime. There just seems to be something encoded into the DNA of cyberpunk that makes it incredibly compatible with a lot of future-themed speculative media, even that aimed for children (an argument could even be made that the Sonic SatAM series from the '90s is something of an example of cyberpunk since it involves a group of freedom fighters fighting back an oppressive technologically-based regime run by Dr. Robotnik).
- Blade Runner
- Johnny Mnemonic
- The Matrix
- Altered Carbon
- Black Mirror
- Ghost in the Shell
- Armitage III
- Cyber City Oedo 808
- Cowboy Bebop
- Serial Experiments Lain
- Ergo Proxy
- Mardock Scramble: The First Compression
- Neon Genesis Evangelion
- Battle Angel Alita
- Æon Flux
- Bubblegum Crisis
- Parasite Dolls
- Aeon Flux
- Sky Blue
- Heat Guy J
- Eve no Jikan
- Pale Cocoon
- Baldr Force EXE Resolution
The cyberpunk genre has spurred the creation of various cyberpunk-themed video games such as Cloudpunk, Va-11 Hall-A, and most notably Cyberpunk 2077.
- 2064: Read Only Memories
- Æon Flux
- Angel Devoid: Face of the Enemy
- Blade Runner
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Deus Ex
- Gemini Rue
- Ghost in the Shell
- Hard Reset
- Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
- Mirror's Edge
- Paradise Cracked
- Raid 2020
- Remember Me
- Rez Infinite
- Rise of the Dragon
- State of Mind
- System Shock
- The Ascent
- The Red Strings Club
- The Solitaire Conspiracy
- Va-11 Hall-A
While Cyberpunk itself is not a genre of music (nor does it have one genre associated with it), there are some characteristics of music that tend to make it sound Cyberpunk. These characteristics include the use of synthesizers, Cyberpunk themes, and sounding dark. Music is typically lacks vocals. Synthwave music tends to sound Cyberpunk.
- Notre-Dame of Tokyo
- Cyberpunk | Retro Future Spotify playlist by aofd3
- Cyberpunk Ambiance ||| Night Spotify playlist by ihonestlyd0ntcare
- Cyberpunk Synthwave Spotify playlist by elisamunoz3
- Cyberpunk Spotify playlist by Timothy Walschaerts
- Cyberpunk / Future Spotify playlist by wongjp
- Cyberpunk Chill Spotify playlist by 12102695653
- Cyberpunk Study Music Spotify playlist by Jason David
- cybernoir Spotify playlist by demixian
- electro punk -ish Spotify playlist by sleepyyjax
Cyberpunk podcasts include podcasts that are related to cyberpunk interests, including science, technology, privacy, and cybersecurity.
- Defense One Radio
- Inside Skunk Works
- Omega Tau
- Planetary Radio
- Robohub Podcast
- The SynBioBeta Podcast
- This Week in Microbiology
- Titans of Nuclear
Transhumanism is an international philosophical movement that advocates for the transformation of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology. This very philosophy has very close ties to the Cyberpunk aesthetic in that, what's more Cyberpunk than becoming part human/part machine? There have also been numerous examples of protagonists in Cyberpunk fiction that are transhuman in their own right (most famously, Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell is an example of Transhumanism in Cyberpunk).
Cybersecurity and Hacker Culture
Cybersecurity (also known as information security or infosec), is the practice of protecting computer systems and data from security hackers, cybercriminals, spies, or other bad actors. "Hackers" are now generally understood to be bad actors, but hacker culture reclaims the label for people who see programming and computer systems as a medium of freedom and creativity.
The "high tech, low life" nature of cybersecurity is often reflected in the offensive and defensive security operatives of cyberpunk fiction and media. In Neuromancer, the protagonist Henry Case is a security hacker working to penetrate corporate computer networks. In Ghost in the Shell, Motoko Kusanagi is referred to as a hacker as short hand for her programming ability which she uses to investigate and prevent cybercrime.
Many characters in cyberpunk fiction and media embody hacker culture and the hacker ethic, which asserts that all information should be free. The protagonists of The Matrix embody the late 1990s self-image of hackers attempting to free humanity from corporate dominiation of technology. Today, many advocates and users of free and open source software adopt a cyberpunk aesthetic, as demonstrated by the r/unixporn subreddit.
The Cyberpunk community has a strong interest in privacy and cybersecurity. Members of the community advocate improving personal privacy and security by using linux and tools like DuckDuckGo, Firefox, and VPNs. Other resources for personal privacy and security are privacytools.io and the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Surveillance Self-Defense.
Subgenres and Derivatives
Biopunk is a subgenre of Cyberpunk that focuses on biotechnology.
For more information, see Biopunk.
Bronzepunk takes Greco-Roman aesthetics and puts them into a pseudo-modern world. The name comes from the use of bronze-age technology, albiet with modern twists.
For more information, see Bronzepunk.
Clockpunk takes elements of Cyberpunk and puts them into a Renaissance setting. Some call it steampunk without the steam.
For more information, see Clockpunk.
Ironpunk adds traits of Cyberpunk to an Iron Age setting.
Nowpunk essentially says that Cyberpunk is now. Bruce Sterling used it to describe his 2005 novel, titled The Zenith Angle.
For more information, see Nowpunk.
Solarpunk is the opposite of cyberpunk. It features an optimistic view of the future, emphasizing renewable energy, handcrafted wares, and anti-capitalism.
For more information, see Solarpunk.
Lunarpunk is closely related to Solarpunk with its emphasis on nature and renewable energy, with an addition of witchcraft.
For more information, see Lunarpunk.
Tupinipunk refers to the Brazilian sci-fi/cyberpunk movement. This is a criticism of the Euro-centric and US-centric views that tend to dominate Cyperpunk.
For more information, see Tupinipunk.