As writers, it’s increasingly important to decide at the beginning or before you finish up and polish your manuscript, what specific genre you’re working in. It’s important to give your work a marketing persona for pitching and platform building. While you write, if you find your work a bit different within the Speculative Fiction space….it might fit within one of these sub genres of Cyperpunk.
A number of cyberpunk derivatives have become recognized as distinct subgenres in speculative fiction. These derivatives, though they do not share cyberpunk’s computers-focused setting, may display other qualities drawn from or analogous to cyberpunk itself: a world built on one particular technology that is extrapolated to a highly sophisticated level (this may even be a fantastical or anachronistic technology, akin to retro-futurism), a gritty transreal urban style, or a particular approach to social themes.
Of course giving your work a specialized, well defined genre will help you define your own personal writing niche, clear up confusion, and help pave the way for the publishing journey ahead. You’ll be able to explain your work to the agents, editors and publishers more clearly. Below is a list of the increasingly popular ‘punk,’ genres finding their ways in and out of the literary labyrinth today. There are MANY of them .
According to Wikipedia, Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that tends to focus on a “combination of lowlife and high tech,” featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.[
Much of cyberpunk is rooted in the New Wave science fiction movement of the 1960s and 1970s, when writers like Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny, J. G. Ballard, Philip José Farmer and Harlan Ellison examined the impact of drug culture, technology and the sexual revolution while avoiding the utopian tendencies of earlier science fiction. Released in 1984, William Gibson’s influential debut novel Neuromancer would help solidify cyberpunk as a genre, drawing influence from punk subculture and early hacker culture. Other influential cyberpunk writers included Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker. The Japanese cyberpunk subgenre began in 1982 with the debut of Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga series Akira, with its 1988 anime film adaptation later popularizing the subgenre.
Early films in the genre include Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, one of several of Philip K. Dick’s works that have been adapted into films. The films Johnny Mnemonic (1995)[ and New Rose Hotel (1998),both based upon short stories by William Gibson, flopped commercially and critically. The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003) were some of the most successful cyberpunk films. More recent additions to this genre of filmmaking include Blade Runner 2049 (2017), sequel to the original 1982 film, as well as Upgrade (2017), Alita: Battle Angel (2019) based on the 1990s Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita, and the 2018 Netflix TV series Altered Carbon.
Lawrence Person has attempted to define the content and ethos of the cyberpunk literary movement stating:
Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.— Lawrence Person[
Cyberpunk plots often center on conflict among artificial intelligences, hackers, and megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than in the far-future settings or galactic vistas found in novels such as Isaac Asimov’s Foundation or Frank Herbert’s Dune.The settings are usually post-industrial dystopias but tend to feature extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its original inventors (“the street finds its own uses for things”). Much of the genre’s atmosphere echoes film noir, and written works in the genre often use techniques from detective fiction. There are sources who view that cyberpunk has shifted from a literary movement to a mode of science fiction due to the limited number of writers and its transition to a more generalized cultural formation.
According to Wikipedia, Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre,[ steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. However, steampunk and Neo-Victorian are different in that the Neo-Victorian movement does not extrapolate on technology while technology is a key aspect of steampunk.[
Steampunk most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retrofuturistic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art.[c Such technology may include fictional machines like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or of the modern authors Philip Pullman, Scott Westerfeld, Stephen Hunt, and China Miéville. Other examples of steampunk contain alternative-history-style presentations of such technology as steam cannons, lighter-than-air airships, analogue computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
Steampunk may also incorporate additional elements from the genres of fantasy, horror, historical fiction, alternate history, or other branches of speculative fiction, making it often a hybrid genre. The first known appearance of the term steampunk was in 1987, though it now retroactively refers to many works of fiction created as far back as the 1950s or 1960s.
Steampunk also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions, or subcultures that have developed from the aesthetics of steampunk fiction, Victorian-era fiction, art nouveau design, and films from the mid-20th century. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical “steampunk” style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.
Also according to Wikipedia, Catherynne M. Valente uses the term “mythpunk” to describe a subgenre of mythic fiction which starts in folklore and myth and adds elements of postmodern literary techniques. As the -punk appendage implies, mythpunk is subversive. In particular, it uses aspects of folklore to subvert or question dominant societal norms, often bringing in a feminist and/or multicultural approach. It confronts, instead of conforms to, societal norms. Valente describes mythpunk as breaking “mythologies that defined a universe where women, queer folk, people of color, people who deviate from the norm were invisible or never existed” and then “piecing it back together to make something strange and different and wild”.[
Typically, mythpunk narratives focus on transforming folkloric source material rather than retelling it, often through postmodern literary techniques such as non-linear storytelling, worldbuilding, confessional poetry, as well as modern linguistic and literary devices. The use of folklore is especially important because folklore is “often a battleground between subversive and conservative forces” and a medium for constructing new societal norms. Through postmodern literary techniques, mythpunk authors change the structures and traditions of folklore, “negotiating—and validating—different norms”.
Most works of mythpunk have been published by small presses, such as Strange Horizons, because “anything playing out on the edge is going to have truck with the small presses at some point, because small presses take big risks”.[ Writers whose works would fall under the mythpunk label include Ekaterina Sedia, Theodora Goss, Neil Gaiman, Sonya Taaffe, Adam Christopher, and the anonymous author behind the pen name “B.L.A. and G.B. Gabbler”. Valente’s novel Deathless is a good example of mythpunk, drawing from classic Russian folklore to tell the tale of Koshchei the Deathless from a female perspective.
Folkpunk in Literature is the intersection of folk culture, (distinct cultural groups like the Pennsylvania Dutch or Creole) with folklore, (stories of the oral tradition, or stories now in the public domain). Then an added layer of punk attributes, (defined and characterized by the author themselves (steampunk, mythpunk, cyberpunk, punk rock) or other derivatives) and set within the speculative fiction genre- with a moral, parabolic or allegoric message.
Folkpunk literature is a genre less about overthrowing the system- which is an attribute of punk rock culture. Rebellion, apathy and antiestablishmentism are dominant in the music, clothing, art and literature as well. Of course, the inclusion of the ideology of punk rock culture and punk is up to the discretion of the writer and can still be labeled as #folkpunk if it incorporates the other elements listed above. It’s art. It’s meant to be fun. This is only a guideline for writers wanting to find a home or label for querying purposes or marketing.
OTHER CYBERPUNK DERIVATIVES – all linked to Wikipedia
If you find this article fun, interesting and informative, let me know in the comment section below, and as usual…happy writing!