Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms / Themes


associated terms: Hi-Tech / Virtual Reality

associated styles: slick, cool, unreal, easy with power

term "cyberpunk" first used in 1983-84, 80s phenomenon

Style or sub-genre of science fiction

films: The Matrix, Blade Runner, Dark City, Videodrome, RoboCop, Johnny Mnemonic



"hard science" science fiction (or at least a hard stylistic edge)

virtual reality = a computer-simulated environment (as in online fantasy games, video games, animation, computer graphics)

youtube video of virtual reality


Cyberpunk identification:

linguistics: "portmanteau word" created by combining parts of two other words

cyberpunk < cybernetics + punk

cybernetics = artificial intelligence, computer systems

punk = street style, semi-outlaw, walking line between in and out


Many current terms for same general field of phenomena:

cybernetics, IT (instructional / information technology)

wired / wireless world

cyberspace, computer-simulated world

artificial reality

computer graphics

going digital

examples of virtual reality places, events: Gulf War as video game; The Truman Show; Disney World; Holiday Inn + cable TV


Cyberpunk style and content markers / "signatures" or conventions:

body enhancement and transgression: implants, extensions

neon (from Film Noir?)


Why Cyberpunk broke through to literary prestige

Background: science fiction often dismissed as escapist fantasy for nerds indifferent to style or quality of literary fiction.



Inverted millennialism

That is, cyberpunk is *not* millennial, despite sense of general decline and munginess

Rather, people survive, even beauty survives or is remembered amid general decay of overpopulated, hustling world



Austin TX as one center of cyberpunk movement (Bruce Sterling, Lewis Shiner, authors of "Mozart in Mirrorshades" etc.)


Clear Springs High School Theater
Steampunk production of Suessical the Musical