Illusive Mind

The Unquestionable should be questioned

Thursday, March 23, 2006



Over at there is a great article on the perhaps fallacious distinction of 'post-cyberpunk' :
Post-Cyberpunk? Why not Cyberpunk 2.0!

Genre definitions are only settled retrospectively, we may wait a hundred years before critics proclaim that they have post-modernism and it's successor all worked out. Perhaps one of the problems with living in a so-called post-modern age is the utter resistance of clear genre boundaries and categories.

I think the term post-cyberpunk may be meaningless but it has been important in drawing attention to the evolution of the genre. Almost the entirety of 50's Sci-Fi failed to predict the internet and the CP of the late 70's & 80's was revolutionary in re-imagining a vision of the future based on present trends.

But of course, as the present trends change so do the imaginings. The problem with being so close to the decade of emergent CP is that we are desperate to move beyond it's highly stylized 80's imagery, even the term 'cyberpunk' somehow sounds outdated. But in doing so we risk destroying the very distinction this genre affords.

The future didn’t turn out as bleak as we thought? Maybe. Alienation and isolation are gone, heroes are those who uphold the status-quo? No bloody way. I think the world is just a little more complex than the perhaps simplistic imagery of CP. It is cleaner and more efficient at hiding the horror.

I think those critics who want to dismiss the dystopian themes of CP as hackneyed and clichéd are the one’s unwilling or incapable of seeing the darker trends of current society, they believe the hype about living in some 50’s style golden age of technological endeavor.

I think the challenge for the genre is to tackle it’s themes in a way that engages a new generation that is dismissive of the cold-war dystopia / post-apocalyptic scenarios. It needs to accumulate credibility in its vision of the future as being one extrapolated from ‘present’ society not yester-year.

It is a dangerous task, by the mere fact that we are not all drug-addicts existing in a meaningless consensual hallucination, present existence seems like paradise by comparison. But a victory over the worst-case scenario is hardly a victory at all.



Blogger SFAM said...

Hi Illusive Mind, thanks for the mention. Your post really lays out some critical issues with out society today engages in sensemaking. On the one hand, we are pompous enough to think we can "identify" the essence of the age we are currently in and expect this to last in perpetuity. Simultaneasly, we seem to want to disregard most attempts to come up with logical category structures for our constructions.

Also, I think the times are shifting towards a more hyper-realist stance. I expect to see lots more neo-noir style movies in the near future, for instance. I'd guess that Sin City and Renaissance are only the first among many. I say this due to, as you say, the darker trends in our society. They seem far more explicit and publicized than previously.

3/24/2006 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger Kayelene Murphy said...

??? Post Cyber-Punk ???
Okay, how are we post anything, if, as you say, there are still threads in our cultural quilt that purport the technological endevours of the 1950's??? Is that not modernism?

What was Punk in its "original" form? Musically, it was about rebellion, art for arts sake, stick it to the man, if thats what you felt like. So, does that mean CyberPunk is about hedonism/anarchism on the internet? If so, we can't be Post Cyber Punk, otherwise blogs wouldn't be so popular.

4/08/2006 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger Illusive Mind said...

There are those threads but then there are the threads that have come after, out and against the modernist, new-wave, utopian sci-fi, arguably the most identifiable being cyberpunk. Post-cyberpunk is a poor way of describing how the technological, political and philosophical climates that gave rise to the genre have since evolved, not changed so much that they warrant calling the death of anything, no transmogrification has taken place.

The use of the word punk is misleading because cyberpunk has actually very little to do with the punk movement or genre of music. It could have easily been called, Cyber-rebel. And it refers to two types of technological rebellion. One is that the powers that be (governments / corporations) are using technology in ways that do not conform to the modernist vision and people alienated by this nihilistic technocratic society do not conform to the powers that be themselves, using the technology for their own purposes.

The internet is still seen as the ultimate democratizing force, a borderless, governmentless medium of expression. But this forms the narrow realm of what could be called the idealistic vision of the dark views of 80’s cyberpunk. The internet is changing too, it is mostly made up of corporations who are as eager to please the forces of tyranny and oppression as they are in other mediums.

4/10/2006 06:45:00 PM  

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