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An introduction to Cyberpunk with a focus on William Gibson's novel, 'Neuromancer'.

Deb Williams

on 13 November 2014

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Transcript of Cyberpunk

Space Opera/Romantic sf
Why and how did this sub-genre develop?
William Gibson
Cyberpunk emerged as a reaction to:
the technological utopianism of much traditional sf
an outdated, tradtional model of the human subject
postmodern theory and culture
1980s counterculture
'Sf has always preached the inevitability of change' Bruce Sterling
Postmodern style
Landscape: The sky above the port was the colour of televisoin, tuned to a dead channel.
- cybernetic - study of how people, animals and machines control and communicate information.

- anarchistic youth movement in the 70s and 80s; youth felt disenfranchised by those with power and rebelled accordingly

Cyberpunk explores the uncomfortably close relationship between humans and technology.

The term 'cyberpunk' was introduced in 1983 by Bruce Bethke in a short story bearing that title. The term became emblematic of the juxtaposition of punk or countercultural attitudes with high technology.

What is cyberpunk?
Living in a global village - we borrow from other cultures - food/music/clothes
Domination of the flow of media images
Break up of ‘traditional agencies’ - family, religion
Class/gender roles - Noveaux riche
Theory - we are made up of several shifting and fragmented identities
Identity is defined by our lifestyle and what we consume rather than what we produce or by our background.
Pastiche, parody and irony
Baudrillard and Simulacra, Hyper-Reality

A Postmodern world
Sf of the 1970s and earlier had relied on a formulaic approach to the future, a future which appealed to the industrialised Western readership who focused on progress (read: prosperity): progress through control of nature, miracles of applied science, penetration of frontiers, taming of alien species, establishing hierarchical governance throughout the galaxy.

Cyberpunk unites, through innovative integration of technology, the hard science tradition and a New Wave approach.
Typical features of the setting:
dominated by urban sprawl
governed by multinatinal corporations
environmental degradation
Locate three quotations from the first chapter which indicate the above features of cyberpunk. Explore the impact of each one.
Gibson relies on dense prose, achieved through the use of :
street slang
high art and pop culture references
high-tech jargon
To creat
in order to create a sense of disequilibrium in the reader.
Echoing other postmodern writers who create pastiche through their stylistic borrowings, Gibson borrows extensively from other genres, for example fusing science fiction with the hard-boiled detective narrative perfected by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Like his fictional junk artists who create powerful works of art using the
that surrounds them, Gibson generate literary collage by reassembling bits and pieces of the literary past, playfully subverting these genres in the process.

Self –reflexivity
Generic Hybridisation
Mix of Low and High Art
Nostalgia (for the past)
Mass produced is now art!
Semiotics (signification confused)
Full transcript