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Eighties Cyberpunk

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Eighties Cyberpunk

In the early 1980's, cyberpunk was used as a label to describe a new form of science fiction written by a group of five writers, which challenged the traditional genres associated with science fiction (Shiner, 7). SF used highly imaginative ideas to project scientific phenomenas, resulting in dreamy, stylized stories of space colonies and flying space crafts. This new science fiction was different, because it incorporated present global, social and technological situations to help induce the future of the world. It generated new outcomes for the future's high technological, society and global environment that would help categorize it into a specific form of writing known as cyberpunk.

William Gibson, one of the five writers associated with the cyberpunk genre, is credited by critics and peers for typifying the cyberpunk writing form in his popular novel Neuromancer. Bruce Sterling, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley and Lewis Shiner, the other four writers who helped launch the movement, agree that Gibson's Neuromancer influenced the categorization of the new science fiction as cyberpunk. Therefore, Gibson's novel can be used as a reliable source for defining the cyberpunk genre.

With this in mind, we can analyze the high-technology used in Neuromancer and its importance to the cyberpunk form of writing. Gibson creates an advanced technological machine called Flatline's construct, which is a "hardwired ROM cassette replicating a dead man's skills, obsessions, knee jerk responses" (Gibson, 20). This futuristic device that brings back human personalities from the dead, can be viewed as a result of the present fascination with bringing dead people back to life. This fascination is evident in hospital emergency rooms and in game boards like the Ouija board. Both examples are similar the use of he Flatline's construct, in the sense that all three bring life back to the dead. This incorporation of high-technology with society's present interests in mind, is a frequent form recognizable in Neuromancer and in the cyberpunk fiction of Sterling, Rucker, Shirley and Lewis.

A common element of genuine cyberpunk writing found in Neuromancer, is Gibson's depiction of the futuristic society and the people who live in it. Once again, Gibson uses the present issues of government and nuclear tension to predict society's future. In Neuromancer, this results in a world ruined by nuclear war. However, the people living in the society continue to survive in the world for personal benefit, or just for the sake of living. Gibson shows an example of this with his characters in Neuromancer.
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