:cyberpunk: /si:'ber-puhnk/

"Gibson said it in a short story somewhere. Cyberpunk is the stuff that has EDGE written all over it. You know, not edge, it's written EDGE..." - Thomas Eicher

primordia

it's a genre, a subculture, an idea, a state of mind, a way of life. it's almost impossible to define. it's present in every form of art and culture - literature, movies, art, music, computer games, you name it. some see cyberpunk as little more than an offshoot of science-fiction, but it would be hard to argue that something so influential could still be considered an "offshoot".

the term itself is attributed to Bruce Bethke. it's easily identifiable as a synthesis of "cyber" and "punk", but it's a master stroke of semiotics. there's no mistaking how the prefix cyber feels electronic... it tastes of silicon and smells of power. punk meanwhile is an unmistakeable scream of chaos, rebellion, anarchy. together you have technology, out of control. machines on the edge of reality, pushing the boundaries of what their creators dared to imagine.

cyberpunk drags us away from sterilised visions of the future; where everything is clean and nobody really gets hurt. fuck all that. cyberpunk is gritty, it has what Gibson would call EDGE. cyberpunk is all EDGE.

i'm drawn to the genre. i've loved watching it grow into an identifiable movement; enjoyed seeing the subculture draw together from disparate groups. it may not exist in my physical location, but does that matter? think about it.

i think the passion slowly trickled into my life with the bytes that arrived at my 14.4k modem. it drifted into my mind as i devoured the pages of gibson's works, settled into my psyche as i played Cyberpunk 2020 and read the sourcebooks endlessly. perhaps i was born with the seeds inside me. perhaps i really do have "an affinity for computers". perhaps i was conditioned into it. perhaps, but who knows. i can't explain why it effects me and doesn't touch others.

i can't remember what my first taste of true cyberpunk was... maybe it was when i read Burning Chrome; or when my friends and i discovered the talsorian rpg Cyberpunk: 2020. good game, and the books themselves were as interesting to read as the game is to play. between netrunners, fixers and medtechs; i was hooked.

but don't be fooled - it's not just technology. technology must have the punk before you enter the genre. high-tech is not enough and in fact it can be a distraction from true cyberpunk.

the essence can exist in a screen of plain ascii text. gibson wrote neuromancer on a manual typewriter; scientists in suit and tie or classic white labcoats admit to being inspired by cyberpunk literature. yes, it's a technology thing; no, that's not all.

cyberpunk is synthesis. pull together the attitude which knows what to do with the tech, and you're on your way. it's a punk mode. if anyone would support the use of technology to decentralise power and ensure freedom of information, then it'd be your quintissential cyberpunk.

they know knowledge is power.