The literary formulas for most male-written science fiction are mostly just familiar, pop-Romanticism, with virtuous populist hero-hunks, sneering Euro-villains, and melting babes for women characters (occasionally varied by androgynous teens).
Given this formulaic tradition for the literary side of science fiction, innovations for the genre largely depend on novelties or new possibilities provided by science (or in movies, advances in animation / CGI).
The past generation of science fiction writing broke new ground by representing (and in some cases anticipating) the revolution in information technology and its effects on human relationships and cognition.
Other terms for this broad realm: cybernetics, IT (instructional / information technology); wired / wireless; cyberspace, computer-simulated world; artificial reality; computer graphics; online
Cyberpunk identification: cyberpunk < cybernetics + punk
cybernetics = artificial intelligence, computer systems
punk = street style, semi-outlaw, walking line between in and out
cyperpunk = high tech and low life
previous examples: "Stone Lives," "Gernsback," "Mozart in Mirrorshades"
films: The Matrix, Blade Runner, Dark City, Videodrome, RoboCop, Johnny Mnemonic,
Austin TX as one center of cyberpunk movement (Bruce Sterling, Lewis Shiner, authors of "Mozart in Mirrorshades" etc.)
Narratives and aesthetics
Narrative conflict or adventure rises from characters discovering a new frontier of cyberspace that may feature hostile agents intent on increasing territoriality. The mood is often one of personal detachment or disillusion with glimpses of better possibilities that dissipate in an atmosphere of entropy or vague loss.
Setting: Two dimensions prevail
1. Virtual reality or cyberspace resembling an exhilarating fantasy frontier whose unlimited open spaces may be a battleground of strongholds, mobile agents, competing territorial entities or domains.
2. The depressingly limited world of late 20th-century street life in an increasingly impoverished actual urban reality.
Time-frame relative to narratives of the future
Cyberpunk literature assumes the ongoing evolution of computer technology under increasingly unregulated and state-less capitalism. Evolutionary features may include implants that alter human nature or abilities. Cyberpunk may also feature evolutionary interconnectedness with other animals.
Cyberpunk lacks the urgency or moral commitment necessary for apocalyptic urgency. "Inverted millennialism," howevver, may assume the world has radically changed at some point in the past, and so may resemble post-apocalyptic literature, especially as a wasteland environment populated by survivors desperate to defend territory and gain resources.
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
Fredric Jameson: repeated revaluation of past to discern moments of rupture that account for current state > Post Apocalyptic
A potentially attractive feature of cyberpunk literature is its disinclination to see change as an end-point or apocalypse that concludes history or existence.
True to its punk attitude, cyberpunk literature is disffected from either hope or fear. It expects no salvation or deliverance; its hope is to survive with some shreds of individual independence and dignity.
Literary and Popular Appeals:
"hard science" sf (or at least a hard, current edge)
virtual reality = computer-simulated environment (as in online fantasy games, video games, animation)
computers as metaphors for human consciousness, or vice-versa
human-machine or biotech interface: implants, prostheses, enhancements, designer drugs
punk as street style assumes non-family relations; human relations limited to strangers competing or colluding in black-market economy
Cyberpunk style and content markers / "signatures" or conventions:
body enhancement and transgression: implants, extensions
neon (from Film Noir?)