In the late 1970's and early '80's and new type of writing style came about that relied on many of the traditional criteria to be called science fiction, but had a certain something else that had many people agreeing that it was not just science fiction. This new style of writing was so different and so many people started writing in this style that the general public decided that it was time this genre of writing deserved a label: cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is not an easy group of writing to define on paper, but it is easy to spot when one is reading it. The cyberpunk writing movement started out with many short stories then became recognizable to the masses with probably the movements most successful novel, entitled Neuromancer. William Gibson's novel was the first major work to get recognized from this category, it seemed to set the precedence of what cyberpunk included, and what a piece of writing needed to have to get labeled cyberpunk. Cyberpunk does not define the works that are in it, rather, the works define what cyberpunk consists of.
Since William Gibson's Neuromancer was one of the first to be recognized as cyberpunk, the genre can be easily defined by the aspects set forth in his novel. Neuromancer was clearly sci-fi, but it included many points that typical sci-fi had never dealt with: this is what cyberpunk can be defined by. Bruce sterling said in the preface to his anthology Mirrorshades "it's possible to make broad statements about cyberpunk and to establish its identifying traits"(ix), and all of them are exemplified in Neuromancer.
One of the most distinctive features of cyberpunk is the technological aspect. Traditional science fiction dealt with things that were possible, bu...
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...roup, but it is even harder to define since it is considered to be within the larger group of science fiction. Cyberpunk has almost become a way out for critics to define these writers. These writers are science fiction, but since they do not always deal with the values and ideas brought forth by the "traditional" science fiction writers, the critic will pass it off as being cyberpunk. While the label cyberpunk will take these works, the label itself grows and changes with every work that is added, making cyberpunk a broader, more open category and harder to define. Cyberpunk does however hold on to its original values that include what can be considered a human factor to set itself apart from "traditional" science fiction.
Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Ace Publishing, 1984.
Serling, Bruce. Mirrorshades. New York: Ace Publishing, 1986.
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